March 17, 2005

The Green Holocaust Files #20: Major Shifting Times Ahead

Hello everyone

There are both lots of bad news and some very good news in this environmental compilation which, I believe, makes for an interesting mix. As usual I've aggregated together what is related which often puts things in a new perspective...

Feel free to share!

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

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"What a fantastic article. It is absolutely clear that the blocking by the US president Bush of any information and remedies that could help Earth to clean itself up and therefore, to allow for the continuation of human beings living on it, can only be explained by a cynical conspiracy between him and the huge industrial conglomerates and the media. Let us open up to what we the people have to say. Let us listen to these wonderful beings, these authorities on various subjects (including those listed in this compilation), that have the solutions (at least the beginning of them) and the skills to make a difference. Let us give them credit for what they try to convey to us, so that we finally put the right people in the right positions, so that a world of sharing and beauty for everyone is set in place. We can do it. We are not hopeless, it takes only a critical mass of people to make the present political set up tip over."

- Birgitta Storjohann> commenting on the article by Will Thomas and all other articles in The Green Holocaust Files #19: World Hanging in The Balance - Precariously!

Worthy of Your Attention

World On Fire (Audio/Flash) by Sarah McLachlan
Recommended by "Mark R. Elsis">


1. Popularize NION statement on war anniversary
2. Senate Votes to Allow Arctic Drilling
3. America Blocks Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging
4. Forests Could Be Key to Curbing Global Warming
5. Mount Kilimanjaro photo wake-up call for action against global warming
6. Stop the Carnage
7. Sudan army accused of killing thousands of elephants
8. Facing our dubious distinction in extinction
9. Slow-fading salmon
10. A third of world's amphibian species threatened with extinction: UN
11. Here comes the nutcracker - Peak oil in a nutshell
12. Federal Rule Resets Soot and Smog Limits
13. Scientists Prove Less Trees, Less Rain
14. Bad news - we are way past our 'extinct by' date
15. Caribbean Vulnerable to Tsunami, Study Finds

See also:

Europe under snow (11 March 2005 - this picture is worth seeing!)
Spring gets off to an unseasonal start across Europe: this Envisat image from last week shows the continent covered by snow all the way down from Sweden down to Italy. The image was acquired on the first Saturday of the month, at the end of a week of snowfalls across the continent and some near record low temperatures. In particular there was a record cold snap in the Netherlands: the temperature dropped overnight to –20.7ºC, unprecedented for the month of March. Many air flights were cancelled all over Europe and numerous schools were closed in France and the UK. In Italy, farmers estimated that some ¤650 million of damage has been caused to their crops by the cold spell. Rome suffered its coldest March day for 18 years while in the north of the country police advised that only essential journeys should be made. In Spain, both Madrid and Barcelona were blanketed by snow. The cold snap was the coldest for this time of year for the last three decades or more. The one country the snows did not extend to is Portugal, which is currently undergoing a serious winter drought. CLIP

Running on Empty (15 March 2005)
The leading energy analysts who foretold Enron's demise have an alarming new claim: The world's major oil companies are almost tapped out. - Four years ago, the analysts at John S. Herold Inc. were the first to call bullshit on Enron. On Feb. 21, 2001, three Herold analysts issued a report that said Enron's profit margins were shriveling, the company had too few hard assets, and its stock price was way too high. Less than ten months later, Enron filed for bankruptcy. Today, the analysts at Herold -- a research-only firm that issues valuations on several hundred publicly traded energy companies -- are making predictions even bolder than their call on Enron. They have begun estimating when each of the world's biggest energy companies will peak in its ability to produce oil and gas. Herold's work shows that the best minds in the energy industry are accepting the reality that the globe is reaching (or has already reached) the limit of its own ability to produce ever increasing amounts of oil. Many analysts have estimated when the earth will reach its peak oil production. Others have done estimates on when individual countries will hit their peaks. Herold is the first Wall Street firm to predict when specific energy companies will hit their peaks. Since last fall, Herold has done peak estimates on about two dozen oil companies. Herold believes that the French oil company, Total S.A., will reach its peak production in 2007. Herold expects 2008 to be critical, with Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., BP, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and the Italian producer, Eni S.p.A., all hitting their peaks. In 2009, Herold expects ChevronTexaco Corp. to peak. In Herold's view, each of the world's seven largest publicly traded oil companies will begin seeing production declines within the next 48 months or so. CLIP

World's thirst for oil makes falling output worse (March 15 2005)
Matt Savinar Interview On Peak Oil: Feet to the Fire
Recommended by Mark Graffis who wrote: "This show is an hour long and the file only about a 3 MB download. It's an excellent show. Visit Matt's site at (EXCELLENT INDEED! COMPREHENSIVE EARTH-SHAKING INFO)

Cartel producers say they can't keep up with strong global demand (March 15, 2005)
With world oil prices north of $50 a barrel and rising, OPEC ministers meeting in Iran Wednesday will be grappling with a problem they haven't confronted in the cartel's 45-year history. In the past, OPEC tried to cool overheated prices by pumping more when supplies got too tight. But most OPEC producers say they're already pumping as fast as they can. And despite the high cost of a barrel of crude, world demand shows no signs of slowing.¨As a result, some OPEC ministers say, they've run out of options in trying to rein in the price of crude. Global oil demand has taken up most of the slack in extra OPEC capacity. Consumption is now believed by many analysts to be pressing up against the limits of what the world can produce. Saudi Arabia is the only country believed to have any surplus production left, and even then the Saudis are pumping close to 90 percent of capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. CLIP

Reckless' Nuclear Plant Dumps Waste on Beaches (06 March 2005) TIP OF THE ICEBERG?
Saefty breaches at one of Britain's biggest nuclear research stations resulted in hundreds of thousands of radioactive particles escaping into the environment, a former safety officer has revealed. Highly radioactive waste was pumped into the sea and evidence of the pollution was covered up by managers who had a "reckless" disregard for public health, according to Herbie Lyall, a health physics surveyor at the Dounreay plant in Caithness for 30 years. They come as the plant's owner, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, is facing a possible criminal prosecution over a series of radioactive leaks. More than 50 radioactive particles have been recovered from a public beach two miles west of the plant. CLIP

Buy local produce and save the world: why food costs £4bn more than we think (3 March 05)
Every major supermarket spends millions of pounds a day making sure their warehouse-sized stores are brimming with products ranging from Kenyan mangetout to Scottish potatoes. But the true costs of producing and transporting food to and from the supermarket shelf are far greater than any checkout receipt suggests. A study that tries for the first time to calculate the real size of our food bill has found we are indirectly spending billions of pounds a year extra on food without realising it. Government statistics show each person in Britain spends an average of£24.79 a week on food. But if the hidden costs of transport and the impact on the environment were included, this bill would rise by 12 percent, the study found. CLIP

Locally grown food greener than organic, British study says (GRIST summary)
Though organic farming is relatively easy on the environment, buying locally grown food, even the pesticide-sprayed variety, is usually more earth-friendly than buying organic, a new study contends. Published in the journal Food Policy, the study found that the transportation of food over long distances -- anywhere outside a 12-mile radius -- can cause more harm than the growing of food with non-organic methods. Researchers calculated the hidden costs of farming and food transport and found that the U.K. would save some $4 billion a year in environmental and traffic costs if all food consumed was locally grown, and an additional $2.1 billion a year if all food were grown organically. The study authors called on supermarkets to label items with the number of "food miles" they travel to get to the store. "The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes, and food businesses," said study coauthor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex. More details at

Grace Before Dinner (Astounding world gathering of small food growers - REALLY AMAZING!)
In an Italian city, five thousand farmers, fishermen, ranchers, honey gatherers, bakers, and cheese makers from around the globe gathered for the first time. (...) The time was ripe for Terra Madre, where small-scale food producers could address the homogenizing pressures of globalization; the power of the World Trade Organization to pursue corporate control and standardization; the lack of a holistic integrity in industrial food production; and the concomitant decline of human health, soil fertility, water quality, and water itself. Add to these the displacement of rural peoples into overtaxed urban areas, and it becomes clear that those involved with traditional, small scale, sustainable food production must meet, grasp the gravity of our situation, and figure out how to help one another. Terra Madre was our answer to the WTO, a meeting not of brokers but of the actual producers of food -- farmers, cheese makers, bakers, ranchers, poultry people, grain growers, honey gatherers. In all, twelve hundred communities of food producers were represented, constellations linked by specific foods or geography. These communities, whether made up of individuals or co-operatives, produce foods that don't lend themselves easily to industrial processes and therefore are most distinctive for their quality. (...) On the final day, the Native American author Winona LaDuke, a defender of true wild rice and its place in Native American culture, rose to the microphone and gave a fierce speech reminding us that "whether wing, fin, or roots, all life forms are related and sacred; we are all mutually dependent on each other. Human beings share the world with thousands of other beings who have an equal right to their lives." Britain's Prince Charles spoke last. "The one resource the developing world has in abundance is people, so why are we promoting systems of agriculture that negate this advantage and seem bound to contribute directly to further human misery and indignity?" he said. "Left to its own devices, I fear that globalization will, ironically, sow seeds of ever-greater poverty, disease and hunger in the cities, and the loss of viable, self-sufficient rural populations.... At the end of the day, values such as sustainability, community, health, and taste are more important than pure convenience. We need to have distinctive and varied places and distinctive and varied food in order to retain, if nothing else, our sanity." The prince was loudly cheered. As he sat down, a wildly upbeat Romanian brass marching band began to pull dancing delegates into its wake. IN THE WEEKS THAT FOLLOWED Terra Madre, I heard from delegates who spoke of the profundity of the experience and the work that might come from it. Ric Gaudet, a former classics scholar who grows heirloom vegetables in northern New Mexico, e-mailed that "The energy that was created there is actually a spiritual force each of us carries inside to share with our own communities. I listened to hundreds of stories with the same theme: Faced with huge obstacles from the powers that oppress, individuals and organizations are finding ways to combat those forces, and to thrive on their farms and in their communities." CLIP

World Solar Industry Growth Jumped 70 Pct In 2004

Schwarzenegger returns with new, revamped solar initiative (GRIST summary)
Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) joined state senators from both parties to introduce a new version of his solar plan. What David Hochschild of Vote Solar called "the most ambitious solar initiative ever proposed in the United States" would offer substantial rebates to homeowners who install solar panels, require big developers to offer solar as an option (10 percent of customers tend to opt for it if it's offered), and extend a program of solar-energy tax credits. Last year's "million solar roofs" initiative was defeated after developers objected to a provision mandating that a certain proportion of new homes be built with solar. That provision is gone from the new version, and observers say the two bills that would implement the plan have a good chance of passing. California -- already the third-largest solar market after Germany and Japan -- looks set to become what Hochschild calls "the Saudi Arabia of sunlight." More details at

During the past nine years while I was working as a market researcher for a major Japanese auto company, I learned that the price of oil worldwide would continue to climb higher due to a steadily growing demand for a limited supply. It was clear from the reports I read that this presented a very real problem to the auto companies of the world. There was a general agreement in the auto industry that the answers to the problem would come in the future via new technologies. For years now, I have wondered where and when the next Edison with a bright idea will appear and invent a "lean, green, driving machine". I have finally found such a man. He lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and his name is Robert Krupa.We have all heard the saying, "If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is". The amazing new spark plug designed by Mr Krupa, which he named "FireStorm", is the exception to this rule. CLIP

US gases to 'dwarf world savings' (2005/03/07)
The President of Britain's leading science academy, the Royal Society, is to accuse the US of undermining global efforts to tackle climate change. Lord May will tell a Berlin meeting that the growth in US greenhouse gas emissions will more than offset cuts made by other industrialised nations. CLIP

Arctic and Midwest climate change (11 Mar 2005)
Presentations on climate change in the Arctic and within the Midwest were made by Arctic Explorer Will Steger and Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas. The presentations were made at the state capitol in Minnesota on 21 February 2005. A video of the presentation can now be viewed, free, at: - Arctic explorer Will Steger showed drastic changes in the polar areas and said: "more than anything else we need leadership", "global climate change could very easily go out of control". Paul Douglas talked about climate change resulting in more extreme weather conditions, more droughts and heat waves, and "with more flash flooding and river flooding", and discussed impacts to Midwest agriculture ... calling for more research to grow crops with increased heat and drought.

China Timber Demand Threatens World's Forests (March 9, 2005)
HONG KONG - China's soaring demand for timber, driven by its rapid economic expansion, is a major threat to the world's forests as illegal loggers make fortunes supplying the mainland, conservation group WWF said on Tuesday. China's timber imports have increased dramatically over the past 10 years after the government banned logging following the devastating flooding of the Yangtze river in 1998, leading to a significant drop in domestic wood production. "China's efforts so far in forest restoration and forest sustainable management are a good start towards preserving valuable and threatened forests," said Dr. Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International. "But logging bans in China should not lead to forest loss in other parts of the world. Decisive action is needed to ensure that supply chains leading to or through China begin with well-managed forests," he said. CLIP

Brazil solves problem of illegal GM soy production by legalizing it (GRIST summary)
In a victory for biotech conglomerates everywhere, lawmakers in Brazil last week lifted a ban on the growing of genetically modified crops in the country, and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to quickly sign the changes into law. Brazil is now the second-largest producer of soy after the U.S., and for many of its farmers, the measure will simply ratify a long-standing practice -- about a third of the country's soybean crop is already genetically modified. Biotech companies are upping soybean-seed production in anticipation of the law's enactment. Da Silva's approval will come despite objections from environmentalists, some members of his party, and his environment minister, Marina Silva, who said, "The Environment Ministry feels obliged to point out to Brazilian society the potential environmental risks involved in the project that was approved."
More on this at
and at

Agent Orange legal case dismissed
A US federal court in New York has dismissed a legal action brought by Vietnamese plaintiffs over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The plaintiffs had sought compensation from the firms that manufactured the chemical, which allegedly caused birth defects, miscarriages and cancer. They said use of the defoliant - to strip away forest cover during the war - was a war crime against millions. But Judge Jack Weinstein ruled there was no legal basis for their claims. CLIP

Agent Orange Case for Millions of Vietnamese Is Dismissed (03/10/05)
In a decision that could close a controversial Vietnam-era chapter of American history, a federal judge in Brooklyn today dismissed a damage suit filed on behalf of millions of Vietnamese that claimed American chemical companies committed war crimes by supplying the military with the defoliant Agent Orange. The civil suit, filed last year, had sought what could have been billions of dollars in damages and the environmental cleanup of Vietnam. The suit drew international attention for its claims about Agent Orange, which was widely used by the American military to clear the jungle until 1971. The suit claimed that the defoliant, which contained the highly toxic substance dioxin, left a legacy of poison in Vietnam that caused birth defects, cancer and other health problems and amounted to a violation of international law. But the judge, Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court, sided with the chemical companies and the Justice Department, which argued that supplying the defoliant did not amount to a war crime. CLIP

EMF-Omega-News 13. March 2005


From: "Not In Our Name">
Sent: March 12, 2005
Subject: Popularize NION statement on war anniversary

Next weekend (March 18-20) marks the anniversary of the war in Iraq. This is an important occasion for the powerful message of the Not In Our Name statement to be heard all across the country. We have ideas for ways to do this and are reaching out to the tens of thousands of people around the country via this email.

1. The NION statement could be read on the radio, in classrooms, at religious services, at rallies. It could be posted all over the internet. Copies of the statement could be made and passed out at demonstrations, events, and social gatherings, e.g., movie lines. It could be sent to local media, including letters to the editor and/or the op-ed page.

2. People might also want to get together in smaller gatherings at someone's home and talk about the statement, the war in Iraq, and the unacceptable direction of the Bush administration.

3. We'd like to popularize the experiences of some people in Nevada County, CA, who paid to run the statement in their local newspaper. People could do that around the country. Campus newspapers, newsletters, and local arts and entertainment papers might agree to publish the statement without charge.



Senate Votes to Allow Arctic Drilling

By H. Josef Hebert - The Associated Press

16 March 2005

Washington - Amid the backdrop of soaring oil and gasoline prices, a sharply divided Senate on Wednesday voted to open the ecologically rich Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, delivering a major energy policy win for President Bush.

The Senate, by a 51-49 vote, rejected an attempt by Democrats and GOP moderates to remove a refuge drilling provision from next year's budget, preventing opponents from using a filibuster - a tactic that has blocked repeated past attempts to open the Alaska refuge to oil companies.

The action, assuming Congress agrees on a budget, clears the way for approving drilling in the refuge later this year, drilling supporters said.

The oil industry has sought for more than two decades to get access to what is believed to be billions of barrels of oil beneath the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the northern eastern corner of Alaska.

Environmentalists have fought such development and argued that despite improve environmental controls a web of pipelines and drilling platforms would harm calving caribou, polar bears and millions of migratory birds that use the coastal plain.

Bush has called tapping the reserve's oil a critical part of the nation's energy security and a way to reduce America's reliance on imported oil, which account for more than half of the 20 million barrels of crude use daily. The Alaska refuge could supply as much as 1 million barrels day at peak production, drilling supporters said.

"We won't see this oil for 10 years. It will have minimal impact," argued Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a co-sponsor of the amendment that would have stripped the arctic refuge provision from the budget document. It is "foolish to say oil development and a wildlife refuge can coexist," she said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., argued that more oil would be saved if Congress enacted an energy policy focusing on conservation, more efficient cars and trucks and increased reliance on renewable fuels and expanded oil development in the deep-water Gulf where there are significant reserves.

"The fact is (drilling in ANWR) is going to be destructive," said Kerry.

But drilling proponents argued that modern drilling technology can safeguard the refuge and still tap the likely - though not yet certain - 10.4 billion barrels of crude in the refuge.

"Some people say we ought to conserve more. They say we ought to conserve instead of producing this oil," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., "But we need to do everything. We have to conserve and produce where we can."

The vote Wednesday contrasted with the last time the Senate took up the ANWR drilling issue two years ago. Then, an attempt to include it in the budget was defeated. But drilling supporters gained strength last November when Republicans picked up three additional seats, all senators who favored drilling in the refuge.

Opponents of drilling complained that Republicans this time were trying "an end run" by attaching the refuge provisions to the budget, a tactic that would allow the measure to pass with a majority vote.

"It's the only way around a filibuster" which requires 60 votes to overcome, countered Stevens.

The 19-million-acre refuge was set aside for protection by President Eisenhower in 1960, but Congress in 1980 said its 1.5 million acre coastal plain could be opened to oil development if Congress specifically authorizes it.

Bush, who has urged Congress repeatedly to allow oil companies to tap the refuge's crude, said Wednesday it's "a way to get some additional reserves here at home on the books."


Note from Jean: Here is what actor, director and conservationist Robert Redford recently wrote in a message urging Americans to protest President Bush's plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to massive oil development:

"Don't believe for a second that the president is targeting the Arctic Refuge for the sake of America's energy security or to lower gas prices at the pump. President Bush knows full well that oil drilled in the Arctic Refuge would take ten years to get to market and would never equal more than a paltry one or two percent of our nation's daily consumption. Simply put, sacrificing the crown jewel of our wildlife heritage would do nothing to reduce gas prices or break our addiction to Persian Gulf oil. But if the raid on the Arctic Refuge isn't really about gas prices or energy security, then what is it about? It's the symbolism. The Arctic Refuge represents everything spectacular and everything endangered about America's natural heritage. It embodies a million years of ecological serenity . . . a vast stretch of pristine wilderness . . . an irreplaceable birthing ground for polar bears, caribou and white wolves. It is the greatest living reminder that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value. It stands for every remnant of wilderness that we, as a people, have wisely chosen to protect from the relentless march of bulldozers, chain saws and oil rigs. And that's why the Bush administration is dead set on destroying it. By unlocking the Arctic Refuge, they hope to open the door for oil, gas and coal giants to invade our last and best wild places: our western canyonlands, our ancient forests, our coastal waters, even our national monuments. This is the real agenda behind the raid on the Arctic Refuge and the entire Bush-Cheney energy plan: to transfer our public estate into corporate hands so it can be liquidated for a quick buck. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) admitted as much when he said this battle over the Arctic Refuge is really a fight over whether energy exploration will be allowed in similarly sensitive areas in the future. "It's about precedent," Rep. DeLay said. I take him at his word. If we let the president and Congress plunder the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the sake of oil company profits, then no piece of our natural heritage will be safe from wholesale destruction."

- Taken from


There was another similar initiative at

FACT BOX - Key Facts About ANWR's Land, Oil, Wildlife (March 17, 2005)
WASHINGTON - The US Senate on Wednesday approved a Republican plan to allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The drilling measure, attached to the Senate's version of a federal government budget resolution, still faces opposition from Democrats and several legislative hurdles before it could become law. The following are key facts about ANWR: LAND Encompasses 19.6 million acres in northeastern Alaska that includes the Brooks Mountain Range with peaks over 9,000 feet high, lakes, rivers and a rock mesa. Within the refuge, 8 million acres are designated as federal wilderness. The entire refuge lies north of the Arctic Circle and is about the size of the state of South Carolina. About 90,000 acres within ANWR and adjacent to its coastal plain is owned by the Kaktovik Inupiat Corp., a native tribe of about 220 residents. WILDLIFE Home to 45 types of land and marine mammals including the bowhead whale, polar and grizzly bears and moose. ANWR's coastal plain is used as a nursery by caribou in the summer months and by polar bears in the autumn. Some 180 species of birds have been observed in the refuge, including migratory birds such as Dunlins from China, Buff-breasted Sandpipers from Argentina and Tundra Swans from Maryland. OIL POTENTIAL The Interior Department and the US Geological Survey believe the best geologic prospects for a major oil discovery are in ANWR's coastal plain, located about 100 miles east of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. The government estimates up to 16 billion barrels of oil in ANWR are technically recoverable, although much of that would be too expensive to produce at today's prices. With prices were at or above $35 a barrel, energy companies could economically recover an estimated 6 billion barrels of oil from ANWR. The oil estimates are based on seismic surveys, aerial surveys and geological investigations. No exploratory drilling has been allowed in ANWR except for one well in the winter of 1984-85 on land owned by the Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. If leasing is permitted on ANWR and commercial exploration and development begins, it could take up to 12 years before any oil reaches the market, according to government and industry estimates.

"The Bush administration is proposing to open over 90 percent of Wyoming's spectacular Great Divide wildlands to large-scale oil and gas drilling. Please send a message telling the Bureau of Land Management that you oppose its destructive plan to industrialize some of America's greatest natural and cultural treasures. The Great Divide boasts spectacular desert wildlands, sculpted badlands and one of the largest active sand dune fields in North America. It is home to one of the world's last viable wild populations of the endangered black-footed ferret, large herds of pronghorn, wild horses and rare birdlife like the ferruginous hawk and the burrowing owl. These wide open spaces have a colorful past, being the ancestral homelands of the Shoshone and Ute peoples, the site of the Overland and Cherokee trails traveled by the pioneers and the favorite hiding places of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But the Bush administration's proposed plan would give only token protection to the sensitive big game winter ranges, migration corridors and important habitats for rare wildlife. And it would allow destructive industrialization of the most fragile areas. Just as bad, the plan would not protect almost 3,000 sites cherished by Native Americans, archeologists and trails enthusiasts. Hundreds of those sites are eligible for designation on the National Register of Historic Places. I urge you to make your voice heard in defense of the Great Divide's irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures!"

- John H. Adams - President, Natural Resources Defense Council - Taken from Help save Wyoming's Great Divide! at
Recommended by Rebeca Davis>


From: "">
Subject: America Blocks Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging
Date: 15 Mar 2005

By, a project of Ecological Internet, Inc. -- Forest Conservation Portal -- Eco-Portal -- Climate Change Portal -- Water Conservation Portal

March 15, 2005


It has just been reported that the United States intends to block Tony Blair's G8 initiative combating illegal logging. Intensive industrial logging - both legal and illegal - destroys ecosystems and livelihoods throughout the World. Particularly in tropical rainforests, a timber mafia has emerged which is raping, pillaging and plundering ecosystems and local peoples. has been instrumental in bringing this to an international audience over the past decade, and international efforts to address this ecological and human rights crisis have been intensifying. Into this moment of opportunity and hope for the world's forest habitats and their peoples comes President Bush.

The Toxic Texan is apparently not content with destroying the climate, prolonging release of toxic mercury into the air and heavily logging U.S. forests to make them "healthy". How could the self-proclaimed World leader be against US moves to ensure that timber is legitimately produced and forest ecosystems protected?

I am at a loss for words on how to describe the present United States government's attacks and negligent behavior in regard to forests and the environment. Fascist, eco-terrorist, dangerous, dumb, short-sighted, deadly, selfish - all are inadequate to describe a society and its leadership that pursues comfort and affluence at the price of murderous suffering by others now and far into the future.

It makes me sick. I love America - but hate religious zealots that speak of life and morals when callously and self-righteously destroying the biological fabric of all life. Something must be done - a boycott on American products, whenever possible, may be the best response to my country's murderous assault upon the Earth.




Title: US blocks forest protection plan

Date: March 15, 2005

Byline: Roger Harrabin

A secret US plan to wreck Tony Blair's G8 initiative combating illegal logging in the world's threatened rainforests has been revealed in a State Department memo leaked to the BBC's Newsnight.

Mr Blair wants G8 environment ministers meeting in Derby this week to make rules insisting that all timber bought by official bodies in rich nations comes from properly-managed forests.

The UK was prompted to start the initiative after Indonesian government ministers said corruption in their country was so rampant that they did not have the power to tackle the supply of timber from the criminal gangs pillaging the forests.

They urged rich nations to reduce the demand for cheap illegal wood.

But powerful industry lobbyists in the US have resisted moves to certify that timber is legitimately produced. And the leaked State Department memo shows that the US government will refuse to sign up to the Blair initiative.

Anglo-US relations

This will be a major disappointment to the UK Government.

And even more damaging for the transatlantic alliance is the revelation in the memo that the head of forest policy in the State Department, Stephanie Caswell, drafted a strategy in January to work with Canada to stop imposing restrictions on timber purchasing and to lobby Russia and Canada to vote against the scheme.

The memo suggested that any measures by Mr Blair to issue a G8 communiqué committing to timber procurement rules was "unacceptable" and should be resisted.

A State Department spokesman confirmed that the paper was genuine but insisted that it was never formally accepted as US policy. He said the US had reservations about proposals for new rules on timber procurement in America but insisted in this week's negotiations the US would allow other G8 partners to decide whether to support Mr Blair's scheme.

The spokesman also said the US "might have had some discussions with Japan on the fringes of meetings about the issue" in previous G8 preparatory meetings, but said the Japanese would make up their own minds whether to support the UK.

European backing

Europe is strongly backing Mr Blair's initiative and the US tactics drew a furious response from rainforest campaigners.

Faith Doherty from the Environmental Investigation Agency in the UK said "I think it's completely outrageous. What we have is a country that does consume tropical timber. That does acknowledge that there is forest crime, environmental crime in Indonesia and other tropical countries.

"And to try and undermine what people have worked so hard for the last five years on this issue is just unacceptable."

She said the Japanese had recently introduced much tougher timber rules than the US.

Ms Doherty, a veteran campaigner, admitted that the US was not a major primary consumer of tropical timber but insisted that manufactured illegal timber products were still flooding into America having been laundered elsewhere.

Other observers feel the State Department position is driven more by free-market ideology.

But RJ Smith of the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington said: "I think the US views this as a way of moving away from free trade and moving into association with lots of the international NGO's that are trying to have a sort of green trade.

"We don't necessarily believe that this is a step in the right direction. We think that trade should be as free as possible and these other issues as to involving environment and so on should be secondary to free trade, secondary to the major considerations of the WTO.

"The US, in the past, has not been particularly receptive to issues to bring management or use of the world's force in the control of international bodies or the United Nations.

"The last time I know there was a concerted effort to do this was at the World Environment Conference in Rio in 1992 and the US did not go along with the World Forestry Treaty that came out of that. So I would be surprised if the US went in that direction."

In an echo of the debate over climate change the US is sceptical about the effect of G8 timber policies because China is a huge importer of stolen timber. Campaigners say China is unlikely to change unless rich nations have put their house in order.

Networked by Ecological Internet, Inc.



Forests Could Be Key to Curbing Global Warming

March 3

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Effective control of forest fires may prove crucial in the fight against global warming since blazes from Alaska to Indonesia spew out vast amounts of heat-trapping gases, Canadian foresters said on Thursday.

"Forests are a wild card in the debate" about rising world temperatures, said Brian Stocks, a forest fire expert with the government-run Canadian Forest Service.

Annual fire damage in countries from Russia to Canada varies hugely, and many of the most destructive blazes are lit by lightning in remote regions. But campers tipping over stoves or arsonists cause a rising number of preventable fires.

Stocks told Reuters that more careful forest plantings, better surveillance to spot outbreaks of fires, quicker response by fire-fighters and education of the public could limit damage.

Fires in Indonesia which raged for months in the late 1990s, creating clouds that dimmed the sun, released up to an estimated 2.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases or the equivalent of about 40 percent of world industrial emissions in a year.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Carbon dioxide is also emitted by burning fossil fuels in cars, power plants and factories, and is widely blamed for blanketing the planet and nudging up temperatures.

"Individuals should do everything possible to reduce energy use," Barry Waito, president of the Canadian Forestry Association, said in a statement.

But he also urged greater responsibility for managing forests. "Forests will play a central role in the extent of (climate) change future generations face," he said.

Many scientists say the buildup of carbon dioxide may spur less predictable weather, ranging from typhoons to heat waves, drive thousands of species of animals and plants to extinction by 2100 and drown low-lying coastal areas by raising sea levels.


In Canada, with about 10 percent of world forests, the area burned in the 1980s-90s roughly doubled from the 1970s, according to the National Forest Strategy Coalition which unites 67 groups from conservationists to government agencies.

And 60 percent of Canada's 8,500 annual forest fires are caused by humans, according to the coalition which meets in Toronto on Thursday and Friday. Rain forests, like in the Amazon, are wetter and so less vulnerable to fire.

Forest fires now release about 150 million tons of carbon dioxide a year in Canada, compared with a 2002 total of 730 million tons from industrial sources.

Under the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol, which entered into force last month despite a U.S. pullout, developed countries are meant to cut their industrial emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

They are allowed to plant trees to help meet the goals, in addition to curbing use of fossil fuels and shifting to clean energy like wind or solar power.



Mount Kilimanjaro photo wake-up call for action against global warming

March 14, 2005

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - A photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years will be used as dramatic testimony for action against global warming as ministers from the world's biggest polluters meet on Tuesday.

Gathering in London for a two-day brainstorming session on the environment agenda of Britain's presidency of the Group of Eight rich nations, the environment and energy ministers from 20 countries will be handed a book containing the stark image of Africa's tallest mountain, among others.

"This is a wake-up call and an unequivocal message that a low-carbon global economy is necessary, achievable and affordable," said Steve Howard of the Climate Group charity which organised the book and an associated exhibition.

"We are breaking climate change out of the environment box. This crisis affects all of us. This is a global challenge and we need real leadership to address these major problems -- and these ministers can give that leadership," he told Reuters.

The pictures include one of Kilimanjaro almost bare of its icecap because of global warming, and coastal defences in the Marshall Islands threatened with swamping from rising sea levels.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed to make climate change and Africa the twin targets of Britain's presidencies of both the G8 and European Union this year -- bringing both to the fore at a summit meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland in July.

The Kyoto Protocol on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases came into force in February but is still shunned by the world's biggest emitter, the United States, and puts scant limits on China, rising fast up the ranks.


Senior officials from both countries will be at the London meeting, whose main thrust is how to achieve the environmental Holy Grail of a sustainably growing low carbon economy.

"There is an attempt to draw the United States in after its refusal to sign Kyoto," said a spokeswoman for environmental pressure group Greenpeace.

"It is very sensitive given that the developing countries are trying to climb the development curve and the developed countries must not be seen to be doing anything to hold them back," she told Reuters.

A senior official at Britain's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is co-organising the meeting -- the first of environment and energy ministers from developed and developing nations -- said the aim was to find common ground.

"This is a chance for people to get together and by not forcing them to negotiate a very concrete outcome ... allow them to explore common interests," she said.

"There are plenty of technologies out there which we can deploy which can help with that shift (to a low-carbon economy) straight away. We know that energy efficiency can already deliver huge carbon savings at a net benefit to our society," she told Reuters.

British think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has proposed a multi-tiered approach, calling for progressively deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by rich nations but more flexible commitments from the developing world.

These should be made against the backdrop of long-term efforts to take Kyoto -- with the United States and Australia aboard in some form -- beyond the end of its first phase in 2012, it said.



Stop the Carnage

A pistol-packing American scientist puts his life on the line to reduce "the most serious threat to African wildlife"—the illegal hunting of animals for food—and to STOP THE CARNAGE

Illegal hunting of wildlife for food is devastating wildlife across sub-Saharan Africa. SMITHSONIAN sent Australia-based writer Paul Raffaele to look into the problem, and report on the efforts of an American wildlife specialist to curb the killing. David Greer runs anti-poaching patrols in a Central African Republic park, risking his life virtually every day to protect some of Africa's most significant animals, including western lowland gorillas and forest elephants. He is based in the Dzanga-Sangha Dense Forest Special Reserve, home to one of the richest and most diverse assemblies of animals, birds, fish and insects on earth.

In the Congo Basin alone, Raffaele reports, up to five million metric tons of bushmeat are traded each year. Another threat to wildlife is infectious agents, including the deadly Ebola virus, which has stricken primates in central Africa. Some experts say that Ebola-contaminated bushmeat smuggled into the United States could trigger an Ebola outbreak here. "It's a crisis situation," one wildlife advocate says, "and that's why the anti-poaching program is vitally important."




Sudan army accused of killing thousands of elephants

14 Mar 2005

Source: Reuters

By Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI, March 14 (Reuters) - Sudan's army has illegally slaughtered thousands of elephants and exported the ivory to China where it is made into chopsticks, conservationist Esmond Martin said on Monday after a survey.

The army was responsible for the slaughter of elephants in southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic before transporting the ivory to dealers in Khartoum and Cairo, said Martin, who is based in Kenya.

Martin said a 20-year civil war in southern Sudan had made it difficult to determine exact elephant numbers, but figures available indicate that the numbers fell to 40,000 in 1992 from 133,000 in 1976.

"Every trader we talked to said the Sudanese national army has been doing the killing, they possess the necessary firearms and ammunition. They also have access to government transport to move tusks to Khartoum and Omdurman," Martin told a news conference in Nairobi.

A Sudan armed forces spokesman declined to comment on the reports.

Martin said three quarters of the illegal ivory was made into chopsticks and other items and sold to Chinese nationals, thousands of whom have moved into Sudan to work in the petroleum, construction and mining sectors.

China has been the largest importer of illegal tusks since the mid 1990's, despite a ban on ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1990.

"The driving force behind these elephant killings especially in the recent past is directly linked to the activities of the Chinese. Not restricted to Chinese expatriates in Sudan they extend to traders in China who buy these tusks and encourage the trade," he said.

Martin said prices for ivory in Khartoum and Omdurman, an Arab city across the River Nile from Khartoum, were between $44-$148 per kg compared to $15.50-$43.60 per kg in 1997 due to an increase in demand.

Sale of ivory items in Sudan is legal provided the shopkeeper has a government licence and the items are carved from ivory obtained before the CITES ban, but Martin said he counted over 11,000 items made from post-CITES ivory in souvenir shops in Khartoum.

Ivory items such as walking sticks and daggers are also in demand in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he said.



Facing our dubious distinction in extinction

January 2, 2005

Victoria has killed off more mammals and bushland than any other state, writes Charlie Sherwin.

Victoria is a gold medallist in extinction in a country named at the World Conservation Congress as one of five with large numbers of threatened species.

Australia is responsible for a third of the world's recorded mammal extinctions since 1600. Twenty of the 22 Australian mammals that are extinct had been found in Victoria.

More of our native bushland has been cleared than in any other state or territory (65 per cent).

Many of our remaining mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds are also on a knife edge. These include the 2006 Commonwealth Games mascot, the red-tailed black cockatoo, and our state faunal emblems the leadbeater's possum and helmeted honeyeater. At risk are 250 species.

We also face losing 600 species of trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Victoria has about 260 species of pretty ground orchids, about the same number found in the whole of Europe and North America. A third of these are on the brink of extinction.

Victoria is smack in the middle of the biggest extinction crisis since a meteor took out the dinosaurs. But the loss of our bushland and its inhabitants isn't just about the birds and the bees; it also hits the economic bottom line.

The cost of propping up a species once it becomes endangered is huge, especially when compared with the meagre cost of looking after what's left of our bushlands, grasslands and wetlands.




Slow-fading salmon

December 2, 2004

RESTORING SALMON and steelhead trout runs in West Coast rivers is a monumental challenge. Dams, farming, logging and population growth all contribute to declines that border on extinction.

What will it take to fill streams again with these silvery fish, symbols of nature and a clean, thriving environment? There are lots of answers, but don't expect any good ones from the Bush administration.

Step by step, it is rolling back policies and changing rules to undercut a revival of these fish. The latest is a plan to cut protections for rivers, which are the vital nurseries of the fish to spawn and grow before heading out to sea.

The proposal wipes out 80 percent of the habitat controls that prevent timber cuts and roads that muddy the clear-flowing water needed by the fish. The shift also helps developers who want to build near streams, another activity that can lead to lower water quality.

It's a giveaway to business and a loss for the environment. Coming a month after the presidential vote, the move seems timed to minimize fallout for President Bush.

The cuts in river protections aren't the only dismaying setback for salmon. Earlier, the administration tried to count hatchery-raised fish along with slim numbers of wild fish to show that populations weren't endangered.

Also, this week Bush officials formally buried talk of taking down federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers that obstruct migrating fish. Removing the eight major dams -- a radical step, to be sure -- had at least stayed on the table in a long-running argument in the Northwest about salmon losses.

Salmon and steelhead are no match for the White House's political calculations.



A third of world's amphibian species threatened with extinction: UN

Mon Feb 21

NAIROBI (AFP) - Nearly one-third of the world's known amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to climate change and pollution, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report released here.

The report said at least nine species of amphibians had died out since 1980 and that another 113 species have not been reported in the wild and are now considered extinct.

Just under 33 percent of the remaining 5,743 known amphibian species are now at risk as global warming heats the earth and deforestation exacerbates pollution and the loss of wetland habitats, UNEP said.

"Amphibians are declining at an unprecedented rate," it said, noting that their extinction rates are "considerably higher" than those for birds and mammals.

Amphibians, like frogs and salamanders have "permeable skin (that) makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change, so they serve as a good indicator of environmental health," said the report, released at the opening of the UNEP governing board's annual meeting.


Forwarded by "Mark Graffis"> on March 6, 2005


Here comes the nutcracker - Peak oil in a nutshell 

by Jan Lundberg

The end of abundant, affordable oil is in sight, and the implications are colossal. About now in our hydrocarbon phase of human history, we have pulled out of the Earth approximately half of the available petroleum (crude oil and natural gas). The other half still in the ground is harder to extract and may not - as assumed - fuel the global economy or even provide a transition to another phase.

Check the related picture at

To hope for an increase in discoveries is to turn a blind eye to the world trend in declining oil extraction which has been relentless for the past four decades. The approximate bell curve of petroleum extraction cannot be changed by any one big new discovery. Yet, the idea of "the Caspian" or any other mega-field du jour is an example of the constant hope for perpetual energy for high living in contradiction with nature.

The same can be said of the dominant assumption that petroleum will be replaced by other "technologies." This ignores the overwhelming petroleum-based infrastructure we have, and neglects to account for the lesser return on energy from non-petroleum sources of energy. But, "they" (scientists, leaders, corporations) will "think of something." Another common assumption popular among "radicals" is that "the ruling elite will refuse" to allow the global economy or the lucrative capitalist system to collapse.

If peak oil means we are at a half-way point, does this mean we now have years to either plan energy use or get used to recession, as claimed by many a writer on peak oil? Before the reader makes assumptions on how society may utilize the remaining store of petroleum, let me repeat what I told The Institute of Petroleum in London two years ago (on February 17, 2003):

"What the world went through in 1979’s oil crisis, which my former company warned of in the U.S., based on our projection of a 9% shortfall in gasoline deliveries, can happen again. The difference will be that global production of oil will be falling instead of increasing."

This means that the next tough oil shortage, even if it is not acknowledged as a post-peak oil extraction phenomenon of diminishing supply, will cripple the globalized economy. Understanding of both the economics and social dynamics of collapse is rare, and even when it is present there is an absence of taking into account the "market factor" in ushering in collapse.

Despite the need to be prepared for imminent, final energy shortage - which could happen now or in several years at the latest - people persist in focusing too much on the likely date of the passing of the peak. It is already clear that the oil industry and OPEC numbers on oil reserves are suspect. So we can simply offer a range of oft-quoted peak-oil arrival times: 2005-2012. Some more distant figures such as 2020 are based on infinite technological improvements on extraction and removing the problematic sulfur, for example. Factoring in the "irregular" petroleum sources, the peak year of world oil extraction is to be 2007, according to the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.

A flurry of peak oil stories hit last fall. But in general, the price of oil is deliberately about where the main players want it, as it is so profitable. So let us not look at the $50 price neighborhood as proof of peak oil being here now - although it may be a factor.

Taking peak oil doctrine further

The bell curve of oil "production" was devised by Marion King Hubbert, a Shell Oil and U.S. government geologist. Although Hubbert has on the whole been borne out except in the minds of fundamentalist-classical economists, what he did not factor in was collapse. Therefore, the curve will be truncated to a cliff just as the gap between supply and demand is felt and hits.

The scenario I foresee is that market-based panic will, within a few days, drive prices up skyward. And as supplies can no longer slake daily world demand of over 80 million barrels a day, the market will become paralyzed at prices too high for the wheels of commerce and even daily living in "advanced" societies. There may be an event that appears to trigger this final energy crash, but the overall cause will be the huge consumption on a finite planet.

The trucks will no longer pull into Wal-Mart. Or Safeway or other food stores. The freighters bringing packaged techno-toys and whatnot from China will have no fuel. There will be fuel in many places, but hoarding and uncertainty will trigger outages, violence and chaos. For only a short time will the police and military be able to maintain order, if at all. The damage that several days' oil shortage and outage will do will soon wreak permanent damage that starts with companies and consumers not paying their bills and not going to work.

After an almost instant depression seizes the modern industrialized world, and nation-states break down, the frantic attempts of people to feed themselves, stay warm and obtain fresh water (pumped presently via petroleum to a great extent), there will be no rescue. Die-off begins. The least petroleum-dependent communities will survive best. These "backward" nations will be emulated by the scrounging survivors of the U.S. and the rest of the "developed" world, as far as local food production will be tried - in a paved-over, toxic landscape by people who have lost touch with the land.

What about renewable energy and other alternatives? They are not ready, and will never be as long as oil is king. This is something not acknowledged by the boosters of the technofix. When oil abdicates, no one can fill the shoes. (See Culture Change Letters on the Technofixsuch as #77 at

However, there will be replacement societies, starting with bands, tribes and rural communities that will start cooperating with each other as never before. The age of the bioregional country, based on cooperation and mutual aid will begin. A main job-category will be restoration of the land so as to provide a semblance of the diversity of food that Earth provided prior to petroleum farming. Social structures will no longer lend themselves to overcrowded workforces dependent on the dollar to buy goods and services from huge, distant and unaccountable corporations. Argentina may be a guide to post collapse society, with its egalitarian and worker/citizen controlled systems.

Awareness of the expected peak in global oil extraction is on the rise, but a debate on when the peak will hit has drowned out larger questions: How hard will the loss of abundant oil hit the economy? Can the consumer culture continue if the collapse includes die-off?

The reasons for not asking those questions in polite corporate company - on the mainstream news or in foundation-funded reports - include the blind faith in renewable energy as a cure-all, and the lack of understanding of petroleum's hold on daily lifestyles. Even if these factors are recognized, a news organization does not want to appear alarmist, and at the same time wants to cling to society's myths of progress and order forever.

The prospects of mitigating peak oil or avoiding collapse are almost nil. U.S. petroleum demand in 2004 grew at its strongest rate in five years. In December the daily consumption of refined oil was 21 million barrels in the U.S, a quarter of world use. The U.S. leads the industrialized world in population growth, part of a domestic policy to assure more car and oil sales.

More evidence of insanity by the world's biggest consumer, the U.S., is that the breaking point is flaunted: refinery utilization rate last year was the highest annual rate in six years at 92.8 percent of capacity. Lower 48 output of crude oil extraction declined the most ever in 2004 since 1999, and Alaskan production experienced its largest drop since 2000, declining 5.5 percent - peak oil "production" happened in the U.S. over three decades ago.

With the worldwide oil industry emulating these trends of maxing out, the still surging demand - China is the leader - strains production and hastens the day when the system can no longer accommodate growth. The Earth cannot, as of the world oil peak in extraction, give up ever greater quantities of black gold. Most of the world exporting companies are now reducing extraction rates due to fewer discoveries and depleted fields. Oil production in 18 producer countries has passed its peak and is declining faster than previously thought: at about 1.14 million barrels a day.

"International Energy Agency figures put the total spare capacity of all 11 countries in OPEC at just 330,000 bpd (down from 6 million bpd in 2002). Conventional Saudi spare capacity is zero... An IEA report from August 2004 indicates Saudi Arabia needs up to 800,000 bpd of newly discovered oil each year just to offset declining fields and maintain its current production level." [Al-jazeera] - this can't happen, so watch for the ensuing energy crisis.

More evidence that demand is out of control and pushing up the day of peak oil:

"There is no spare refinery capacity, demand has outstripped all expectations."

- Deborah White, Societe Generale bank, Paris

The world needs to produce another 2,723,530.2 barrels per day by the end of 2005 just in order to stand still, even by the IEA demand figures considered low by analysts.


We live in strange times: global warming from petroleum and other fuels is acknowledged as a certain and extremely grave threat, but we allow "policy" to continue holding above all else the maximum burning of petroleum. More roads are built for the guzzling coffins on wheels, even though road-repair funds (and library funds) go lacking as a result. The viciousness of the invasion of Iraq and the attempt to foil the designs of the great powers should serve to wake people up to wean themselves off petroleum. Nothing may finally tip public sentiment over to abandoning the oil life. People have already forgotten the huge oil spill off Unalaska Island, Alaska. But neither genocide, climate distortion, nor loss of wildlife habitat and fisheries - or that more nebulous concept of peak oil - have people thinking far ahead in the dominant culture, except in terms of self-aggrandizement. Fortunately, the loss of petroleum will probably mean the loss of the global culture of plastic materialism.

Petroleum is the Great Leveler, in the sense of "leveling" or flattening oil civilization. But petroleum will also be the Great Leveler in terms of equalizing everyone: People will go through a final, grasping petroleum grab with whatever funds and connections they have, before the attempt fails for good. Then all people will have no choice but to work together or perish. Until then, we have skewed values: for example, when a kindly old lady drives to a shop and has her charitable concerns, the use of oil makes her a killer of the planet and she is not pursuing a sustainable form of transportation. Meanwhile, a mean old man who scowls at little children who walks to the shop might be a much more valuable citizen in a practical fashion that matters to the world.

– Jan Lundberg - December 9-20, 2004, Berkeley/Oakland, California


Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas "ASPO" Newsletter No 50 - Feb. 2005

Energy Information Administration (U.S. Dept. of Energy)

American Petroleum Institute

Adam Porter, Aljazeera

Jan Lundberg
P.O. Box 4347
CA 95518 USA
Tel. 1-215-243-3144

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We promote and practice cultural change as key to sustainability. Does economic growth via fossil fuels and materialism provide real security? A sustainable society features car-free living and growing food locally. Communities must return to self-sufficiency for food and energy.

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Federal Rule Resets Soot and Smog Limits

March 11

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Thursday ordered reductions in smog and soot pollution across 28 states in the East, South and Midwest with the goal of making the air cleaner to breathe for people downwind of coal-burning power plants.

Consumers who get electricity from the companies' plants can expect their monthly power bills to increase eventually by up to $1 to pay for the changes.

The Environmental Protection Agency's new regulations set pollution quotas for 28 states and the District of Columbia on smog-forming nitrogen oxides and soot-producing sulfur dioxide. Most of the states are east of the Mississippi River.

The agency envisions that the clean air rule will prevent 17,000 premature deaths and 700,000 cases annually of bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory ailments, while also improving the air in parks and forests.

The rule "will result in the largest pollution reductions and health benefits of any air rule in more than a decade," said Stephen Johnson, the EPA's acting administrator and President Bush's nominee to be the agency's full-time chief.

EPA officials estimate that achieving the pollution cuts will end up costing about $4 billion a year, but that the benefits will be much greater; for example, $85 billion annually from improved health among people downwind. The benefits to outdoor visibility were put at $2 billion a year.

By 2015, nitrogen oxide pollution will have to be reduced by 1.9 million tons annually, or 61 percent below 2003 levels. Sulfur dioxide pollution must drop by 5.4 million tons, a 57 percent reduction.

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, an advocacy and research group that has championed the new regulations, said the EPA was taking "the biggest step in a decade" to cut smog and soot from power plant smokestacks and help millions of people breathe easier.

Other environmental groups and some state attorneys general were less enthusiastic.

"We need the reductions sooner to achieve clean air for our citizens as is required by the Clean Air Act," said Peter Lehner, environmental protection chief in the New York attorney general's office.

John Walke, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA is at least recognizing that power plant pollution is a threat to public health and that utilities and plant owners have the money to clean it up.

"Unfortunately, under today's rule, more than 31 million Americans still will be breathing unsafe levels of deadly soot and asthma-inducing smog a decade from now," he said.

The EPA said 474 counties now have too much smog and 224 counties have too much soot, fine particles of pollution that are 30 times smaller than human hair.

It is up to states to decide how best to achieve those reductions. But the rule envisions requiring power plants to install new scrubbers for sulfur dioxide or chemical processes for nitrogen oxides as the least costly way. Plant operators are allowed, under a trading system, to buy pollution allowances from other plants that did more in cutting emissions than was required.

Dan Riedinger, spokesman for the power industry's Edison Electric Institute, said the exact requirements depend on decisions not yet made by the EPA and states. But he said market trading would help lessen costs for consumers.

The regulations had competed with a legislative plan Bush hoped would accomplish some of the same things — reduced smog and soot pollution. But the regulations set deadlines consistent with the Clean Air Act.

Bush's legislative plan would have given power plants more time to reduce air pollution and limited states' tools for addressing the local impact, according to the Congressional Research Service. But it suffered a major setback Wednesday when a Republican-controlled Senate committee rejected it.

States affected by the new regulations are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The EPA next week plans to issue the nation's first regulations for reducing emission of toxic mercury from power plants.


On the Net:

Environmental Protection Agency:


Forwarded by "Mark Graffis">


Scientists Prove Less Trees, Less Rain

March 11, 2005 — By Reuters

SYDNEY — Australian scientists have found that deforestation along the Amazon River in South America was reducing rainfall and causing climate change in the region.

A study in the Amazon found that a loss of forests meant less water evaporated back into the atmosphere, resulting in less rainfall, said Ann Henderson-Sellers, director of environment at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Key to the study was plotting the cycle of a heavy molecular version of water common in the Amazon that evaporates more readily through plants than from lakes and rivers.

Water from household taps consists of two "regular" hydrogen atoms and one "regular" oxygen atom, explained Henderson-Sellers, but some water molecules see the second hydrogen atom replaced by a heavier version called deuterium.

"Plants transpire the water molecules and pumps them back into the air, without discriminating between heavy or regular molecules," Henderson-Sellers told Reuters.

As the study tracked the water cycle as it flowed from the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean, evaporated, fell as rain and returned back to the sea, scientists discovered there had been a reduction in heavy-molecule water since the 1970s.

Henderson-Sellers said the only possible explanation for the decline was that heavy-molecule water was no longer being returned to the atmosphere to fall as rain due to less vegetation, signalling a relationship between deforestation and rainfall.

"The bottom line is for the first time we can tell the difference between moisture that has been transpired through the plants, and water that has come through the rest of the water cycle," she said.

"Trees play a critical role in moving heavy-water molecules through the cycle. This is the first demonstration that deforestation has an observable affect on rainfall."

The Amazon is the world's second longest river at 6,400 km (4,000 miles), but boasts the greatest total flow of any river, releasing 6.5 million cubic feet per second in the rainy season. It is responsible for a fifth of the total volume of fresh water entering the world's oceans.

The Amazon's rainforest drainage area covers six million square km (2.3 million square miles) and has been called the "lungs of the earth" by environmental groups.


Forwarded by "Mark Graffis">


Bad news - we are way past our 'extinct by' date

Robin McKie, science editor

March 13, 2005 - The Observer

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice, wrote Robert Frost. But whatever is to be our fate, it is now overdue.

After analysing the eradication of millions of ancient species, scientists have found that a mass extinction is due any moment now.

Their research has shown that every 62 million years - plus or minus 3m years - creatures are wiped from the planet's surface in massive numbers.

And given that the last great extinction occurred 65m years ago, when dinosaurs and thousands of other creatures abruptly disappeared, the study suggests humanity faces a fairly pressing danger. Even worse, scientists have no idea about its source.

'There is no doubting the existence of this cycle of mass extinctions every 62m years. It is very, very clear from analysis of fossil records,' said Professor James Kirchner, of the University of California, Berkeley. 'Unfortunately, we are all completely baffled about the cause.'

The report, published in the current issue of Nature, was carried out by Professor Richard Muller and Robert Rohde also from the Berkeley campus. They studied the disappearances of thousands of different marine species (whose fossils are better preserved than terrestrial species) over the past 500m years.

Their results were completely unexpected. It was known that mass extinctions have occurred in the past. During the Permian extinction, 250m years ago, more than 70 per cent of all species were wiped out, for example. But most research suggested that these were linked to asteroid collisions and other random events.

But Muller and Rohde found that, far from being unpredictable, mass extinctions occur every 62m years, a pattern that is 'striking and compelling', according to Kirchner.

But what is responsible? Here, researchers ran into problems. They considered the passage of the solar system through gas clouds that permeate the galaxy. These clouds could trigger climatic mayhem. However, there is no known mechanism to explain why the passage might occur only every 62m years.

Alternatively, the Sun may possess an undiscovered companion star. It could approach the Sun every 62m years, dislodging comets from the outer solar system and propelling them towards Earth. Such a companion star has never been observed, however, and in any case such a lengthy orbit would be unstable, Muller says.

Or perhaps some internal geophysical cycle triggers massive volcanic activity every 62m years, Muller and Rohde wondered. Plumes from these would surround the planet and lead to a devastating drop in temperature that would freeze most creatures to death.

Unfortunately, scientists know of no such geological cycle.

'We have tried everything we can think of to find an explanation for these weird cycles of biodiversity and extinction,' Muller said. 'So far we have failed. And, yes, we are due one soon, but I would not panic yet.'



Caribbean Vulnerable to Tsunami, Study Finds

March 17, 2005

WASHINGTON - Large cracks off the coast of Puerto Rico show there is a strong chance of quakes, landslides and tsunamis in the Caribbean region, geologists said on Wednesday.

Sonar readings of the Puerto Rican trench, where the North American and Caribbean plates meet, show long, deep cracks, said Nancy Grindlay and Meghan Hearne of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Paul Mann of the University of Texas at Austin.

That fits in with historical reports of tsunamis in the area, some of which have the potential to be very large, the three scientists reported in the journal Eos.

"I marked out faults and what appear to be landslide deposits," Grindlay said in a telephone interview.

"We also identified these large cracks on the sea floor that appear to have potential for future landslides. They are about 35 to 40 kilometers (20 to 25 miles) long and they are right off the north coast of Puerto Rico."

They range in depth from 1,000 metres (3,200 feet) to 3,000 metres (10,000 feet), she said, and some are similar to the fault that caused the Dec. 26 quake off the coast of Indonesia that generated the tsunami that left 300,000 people dead or missing in the Indian Ocean area.

As with all quakes, it was impossible to predict when one would occur and what sort of tsunami it might generate, if it caused one at all, Grindlay said.

Movement of the sea floor or a landslide could cause such a wave. It could affect Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands, she said.

"There is the potential for the tsunami to travel across the ocean but by the time it reaches the (US) Atlantic coast it will probably be a small wave," she said.

At least 10 significant tsunamis have been documented in the northern Caribbean since 1492.

All 10 were triggered by movement along this plate boundary, which runs 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the north coast of the island of Hispaniola, home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to the Lesser Antilles, the researchers said.

One destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica in 1692, and another killed at least 10 Jamaicans in 1780.

In 1946, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the Dominican Republic caused a wave that killed 1,800 people.

More could die if another tsunami hits because 35.5 million people now live along vulnerable coasts, the three geologists said.

Other experts have noted there are several active Caribbean volcanoes that could set off an inundating wave.

In January, US officials said they would spend $37.5 million over two years for new deep-sea warning systems aimed at giving near-total coverage for the US coastline.

There is no such system in the Caribbean.


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