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Invasive Species of Crayfish in Wisconsin Ponds Targeted

GERMANTOWN, Wis., Nov. 8 (UPI) — State officials said nearly 4,000 gallons of bleach will be used to kill an invasive crayfish species living in ponds in Germantown, Wis.

Randy Schumacher, Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries coordinator in Milwaukee, said the chemical should eliminate the aggressive Louisiana red swamp crayfish from the Esquire Estates storm water pond and a smaller Germantown pond, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Saturday.

Schumacher said the crayfish species was illegally released in Germantown this year and their size and aggressive nature makes them a threat to the native crayfish population.

It remains unknown who released the Louisiana crayfish in Germantown, Schumacher said.

“No one should be releasing any animal outdoors without a permit from the DNR,” said the DNR official, who added the bleach dispersal will take place Thursday or Friday.

The Journal Sentinel said the invasive crayfish species was also discovered in a Sam Poerio Park fishing pond in Kenosha, Wis. As a precaution, a fabric fence was erected on the pond’s shoreline to keep the crayfish from moving to other bodies of water.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Regional0 Comments

Asian Development Bank: Asia-Pacific Energy Needs Trillions

TOKYO, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The Asia-Pacific region needs to invest between $7 trillion and $9.7 trillion in the energy sector between 2005 and 2030 to meet the rapidly growing demand for energy, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank.

Regional energy demand is projected to grow 2.4 percent annually over the next 20 years, outpacing the world average of 1.5 percent, states the ADB report, “Energy Outlook for Asia and the Pacific,” released Thursday.

It estimates that coal, oil and natural gas will continue to supply 80 percent of the Asia-Pacific region’s energy supply in 2030, driving up CO2 emissions, ADB warns.

The study predicts that the use of coal will rise 2.1 percent annually over the next two decades to supply 38.3 percent of Asia-Pacific’s energy needs by 2030. Oil will supply 27 percent, with 2.2 percent annual growth, while natural gas use will increase 3.6 percent per year to account for 14.5 percent of total energy demand.

Although new and renewable energy sources are forecast to be the region’s fourth-biggest energy source by 2030, supplying 11 percent of the total, the report predicts that the sector will experience less growth than many industry experts are anticipating, with an annual rate of just 1.3 percent.

The report warns that based on current trends, oil imports to Asia-Pacific will nearly double 2005 levels by 2030, putting at risk the region’s energy security.

Access to modern forms of energy is a necessary condition for economic development and a high standard of living, ADB said in a release. The study notes that in 2005 about 930 million people in the region did not have access to electricity.

“Cooperation among the economies is needed to enhance energy security and sustainable development in the region,” ADB Vice President Lawrence Greenwood said. “This can be done through sharing policy information, facilitating energy trade and conducting joint energy projects.”

The report, jointly published by ADB and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, was launched with a related report, “Energy Statistics in Asia and the Pacific (1990-2006),” during the Pacific Energy Summit in Tokyo. Both studies were undertaken by the Asia Pacific Energy Research Center of The Institute of Energy Economics of Japan.

The energy statistics report found that the Asia- Pacific region consumed 34 percent of the world’s total primary energy supply in 2006. Yet the per capita electricity generation of 1,800 kilowatts in the region is still 37 percent below the world average of 2,870 kilowatts.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas, People, Regional0 Comments

Changes in Land Use Proven to Reduce Vegetation Cover and raise Surface Temperatures

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Nov. 3 (UPI) — A new study shows most U.S. land-use changes reduce vegetative cover and raise regional surface temperatures, scientists said.

Researchers from the University of Maryland, Purdue University and the University of Colorado-Boulder said they found nearly any change that makes land cover less “green” contributes to warming. However, they said they also found conversion of any land to agricultural use results in cooling.

The scientists said their findings add significant weight to a growing recognition for the need to more fully incorporate land-use change into computer models that are designed to forecast future changes in climate conditions.

“We found that most land-use changes, especially urbanization, result in warming,” said University of Maryland Professor Eugenia Kalnay, one of the study’s co-authors. “A clear exception is conversion of land from other uses to agriculture, which produces relative cooling, presumably because of increased evaporation.”

The study, led by Purdue University researchers Souleymane Fall and Dev Niyogi, also included Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Kalnay emphasized the findings don’t negate the effects of greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide.

“I think that greenhouse warming is incredibly important, but land use should not be neglected,” she said. “It clearly contributes to warming, especially in urban and arid areas.”

The study is to appear later this year in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Effects Of Air Pollution, Global Warming & Climate Change, Other, Regional, Urbanization0 Comments

Wave Energy Moves to Test Underwater Grid Links

PENNINGTON, N.J., Nov. 2 (UPI) — The prospect of generating large volumes of electricity and then distributing power through underwater grid lines is nearer with successful tests announced Monday.

New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies Inc. said it tested the feasibility of setting up wave power substations underwater and linking the pods to grids on land for onward transmission of the electricity to consumers. The test results were also reported simultaneously by the London Stock Exchange.

The company said it carried out the tests in Spain, proving the feasibility of “cleaner, safer, more efficient” form of energy produced from the ocean waves.

The Underwater Substation Pod, based on a proprietary design, collects power from up to 10 of OPT’s proprietary PowerBuoys afloat in the ocean and transmits electricity via a subsea power cable to a shore-based grid.

OPT said the pod had been developed as an open platform and could provide “plug and play” connectivity for any offshore energy device linked to it.

Underwater trials of the pods included pressure testing, running electric power to and from the system, and verification of data communication capabilities.

The tests were carried out as part of an OPT contract with Iberdrola Marinas de Cantabria, a special-purpose company whose shareholders include Iberdrola S.A., the major Spanish utility company, Sodercan, a regional development agency for northern Spain’s Cantabria region, IDAE, the energy agency of the Spanish government, and Total oil and gas company.

OPT said the Underwater Substation Pod was a “unique product” in the offshore market, creating a potentially new revenue stream from sales to third parties that are engaged in marine power development and other offshore activities.

OPT currently earns most of its income from the PowerBuoys. The vessels are designed for utility-scale power generation or for autonomous applications, such as offshore homeland security. The PowerBuoy is designed as a “smart” system capable of responding to differing wave conditions.

Wave power generation is a developing area of growth for industries seeking renewable energy. In recent years, momentum has been added to a global quest for alternatives to oil as a result of concerns over climate change, sharp fluctuation in the prices of hydrocarbons and uncertainty over supply. In South America and Europe, geothermal power has also received attention from both national and overseas companies.

OPT specializes in wave-energy technologies in a $150 billion annual power generation equipment market. The company’s PowerBuoy system is based on modular, ocean-going buoys that capture and convert predictable wave energy into electricity. OPT has headquarters in Pennington, N.J., and offices in Warwick, England.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Other, Regional0 Comments

Oil Spill Kills Birds, Closes Beaches near Alameda, California

ALAMEDA, Calif., Nov. 1 (UPI) — Fishing has been suspended and beaches are closed near an oil spill that occurred during the fueling of a 600-foot Panamanian tanker, California officials said.

The Dubai Star left a 2-mile-long, 200-yard-wide oil spill of approximately 100 gallons near Alameda, Calif., due to a mechanical failure during the fueling the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times reported Sunday. The spill killed an undetermined number of birds, the newspaper said.

“We expect the cleanup to last for days,” Petty Officer Levi Read of the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.

Crews were checking coastlines for tar balls. Officials said the spill could reach shorelines at Bay Farm Island, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.

Alameda Point, Crown Beach and Middle Harbor beaches were closed and boat launches were shut down at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. The beaches were closed to afford wild birds a place of refuge to escape the oil, the newspaper said.

The California Department of Fish and Game suspended shellfish harvesting and fishing in the areas affected by the oil spill.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Birds, Fish, Pollution & Toxins, Regional0 Comments

Typhoon Ketsana Reveals Illegal Logging in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Typhoon Ketsana, which hit Vietnam in late September, revealed illegal logging when logs were swept down flooded rivers, forestry officials say.

Le Nho Nam, director of the forest protection unit in Phuoc, told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network logs from his area, one of the country’s last stands of old-growth forest, were identified 60 miles away. He said some were almost certainly from trees cut down illegally in the protected forest, IRIN reported Friday.

Phanh Tham Lam, Nam’s counterpart in Quang Nam province, said deforestation increased the devastation from typhoon flooding.

Much of the illegally cut timber goes to the furniture industry. With $2.8 billion in sales annually, it has become one of the Southeastern Asia country’s biggest export sectors.

Some forests have also been cleared for hydroelectric power plants.

About 78 percent of the old-growth forest in the country has been cut in the past 20 years.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Hydroelectric, Regional, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Missouri Ordered to Clean Mississippi River Water

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 30 (UPI) — The part of the Mississippi River that flows past St. Louis must be cleaned up enough to support recreational uses, federal officials said.

“The people of St. Louis deserve access to such high quality water,” said Art Spratlin, a regional director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has ordered the Missouri Clean Water Commission to devise a plan to reduce the water’s bacteria levels, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday.

The plan must address sewage overflows along 28.6 miles of the river overseen by the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, which has yet to settle a 2007 lawsuit filed against it by the EPA, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The sewer district already was planning to spend an estimated $6 billion to improve the system and reduce overflows before Thursday’s EPA order, Lance LeComb, a sewer district spokesman said.

“We will continue to spend billions of dollars for many years on the issue of overflows,” LeComb told the Post-Dispatch.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Art, Regional0 Comments

Yemen's Water Crisis a Mideast Warning for Decades That Lie Ahead

SANAA, Yemen, Oct. 29 (UPI) — Sanaa may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water. If that happens, it will be a signpost to the conflicts over shrinking resources that scientists and sociologists see coming in the decades ahead.

The ancient city, which dates back to the Sabean dynasty of the 6th century B.C., is expected to run out of drinking water as early as 2025 at current consumption levels, according to the Sanaa Water Basin Management Project funded by the World Bank.

The people of Yemen, which lies on the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula, have lived on scarce water resources for centuries. But the current water crisis has been heightened by a rapidly expanding population, accelerating urbanization and the ravages of climate change.

Sanaa’s population, currently pegged at 2 million, had quadrupled since the 1980s and is growing by about 8 percent a year, overwhelming the available water supply. The national growth rate last year was 3.46 percent, one of the highest in the world.

A decade ago Sanaa got water from 180 wells. These days that’s down to 80 as the aquifers dry up.

In 2008 a World Bank report found that groundwater levels across Yemen were dropping by 20-65 feet a year. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted that 19 of Yemen’s 21 main aquifers were not being replenished because of lower rainfall.

Many of the people moving into Sanaa are the first wave of what are becoming known as “climate refugees.”

These are expected to number in the millions in the next few decades as global warming melts polar icecaps, floods coastal regions, accelerates the spread of deserts and destroys farmland.

Much of Yemen’s water problem is self-inflicted. An estimated 40 percent of available water is consumed by the cultivation of qat, a leafy stimulant that is chewed by 70 percent of Yemeni males daily. Farmers prefer to grow it for the high profit involved in the narcotics trade.

The government in Sanaa has been unable to do much to ameliorate the crisis. Its authority does not run much beyond Yemen and other major urban centers, and its oil reserves, never particularly big, are running out like the water resources.

It is also grappling with a tribal insurgency in the lawless north, an increasingly volatile secessionist movement in the south and the resurgence of al-Qaida forces in the east.

The water shortage is starting to cause civil unrest. Water available across the country, much of it rocky highlands, amounts to 100-200 cubic meters per person per year, well below the international water poverty line of 1,000 cubic meters.

“We have a water shortage that reflects itself in fighting between the people,” says Deputy Planning Minister Hisham Sharaf. “If we continue spending this much water on qat, Sanaa has 10 to 15 years.”

Yemen’s problems are probably more acute than those of other regional states, but not by much, and the danger lies in the seeds of conflict that it contains.

Conditions have been exacerbated by a four-year drought that has affected all of the Middle East, from Iran to Morocco.

The urban population drift this has caused is dramatically changing the demographics of the region and putting greater strain on water resources.

The subsequent poverty and social discontent this engenders increases the risk of destabilization and armed conflict within and between states.

“Water is definitely a security problem in the region,” according to Samir Taqi, director of the Orient Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank in Damascus, capital of Syria.

“It’s always been this way in the region, but now what’s making it of much greater amplitude is that from one side the drought is much heavier, and second, the region itself is much more vulnerable geopolitically speaking.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Drinking Water, Drought, Other, People, Regional, Urbanization0 Comments

EPA Finds Lead High Levels Around Smelter Despite Cleanups for Past Decade

HERCULANEUM, Mo., Oct. 28 (UPI) — More than 100 properties near a Missouri smelter that have been through cleanup in the past decade have high levels of lead in the soil, federal regulators say.

Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found lead levels at more than 400 parts per million in 129 properties near the Doe Run Smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Of these properties, 104 have had soil remediation.

“While Doe Run has taken some steps in recent years to reduce lead emissions, those efforts clearly fall short of what was necessary,” EPA acting Regional Administrator William Rice said in a statement. “The recontamination we are seeing in Herculaneum is unacceptable.”

Doe Run argued the testing shows the problem is not that severe. Officials said if test results are averaged on each property, only 29 have lead levels above 400 parts per million, the limit the EPA considers safe.

Many of those 29 properties are in a zone where the company has offered buyouts to the owners.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Remediation0 Comments

San Diego Sues U.S. Navy and Contractors Over Bay Contamination and Cleanup

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 23 (UPI) — The city of San Diego has sued the U.S. Navy, the port and private companies over cleanup of San Diego Bay, the mayor’s office said.

The lawsuit filed in federal court has more than a dozen defendants, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. City officials said the aim is to minimize the cost to local taxpayers of removing contaminated sediment from the bottom of the bay.

The price tag has been estimated at $100 million.

“This is just sort of another step that the city needs to take to protect its interests and the taxpayers’ interests,” said Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders. “We want to make absolutely sure that the people who were responsible pay their fair share.”

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Board ordered the cleanup in 2005. A revised plan for the work is scheduled to be released by the end of the month, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Office, People, Regional0 Comments

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