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Philadelphia Going Green with Rain Capture Plans

Philadelphia is rejecting the infrastructure of tunnels and sewage treatment plants for the green capture of storm water, water department officials said.

A $1.6 billion plan will create an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, thousands of additional trees and porous pavement among other ambitious ideas to be carried out over 20 years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.

The new infrastructure will stall, if not absorb, the flow of billions of gallons of rainwater into the city’s sewer system — which often overwhelms the system.

The Philadelphia Water Department says the project will create jobs, increase property values, improve air quality, reduce energy use and even reduce deaths from heat stroke.

“This is the most significant use of green infrastructure I’ve seen in the country, the largest scale I’ve seen,” said Jon Capacasa, regional director of water protection for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the final say on whether the plan passes muster.

Regulators and environmental experts are still examining the 3,369-page plan, the newspaper said.

Posted in Energy, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Infrastructure, Other, Regional0 Comments

Ship Wrecked to Conceal Toxic Waste by Mafia Not Tested for Radioactivity

A ship wreck discovered off the coast of Italy two weeks ago may contain bodies, as well as radioactive waste, the mayor of Longobardi says.

An underwater camera revealed orange barrels marked “toxic” and what may be two bodies.

Authorities say the vessel was sunk in 1993 by a criminal organization to conceal toxic waste, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

It remains underwater 12 miles off the coast and by Thursday calls for government action to deal with the possible pollution were mounting.

“This terrible threat from the bottom of our sea calls for more than just good intentions,” Calabrian Member of Parliament Jole Santelli said. “Serious situations like the one we have now in Calabria should be examined in depth to ensure the right tools are available to clean the polluted sea swiftly and efficiently.”

The Environment Ministry promised to send the Astrea, an oceanographic survey ship, to look into the problem. However, Calabrian Environment Councilor Silvestro Greco said Wednesday the Astrea was not up to the task.

Greco said the council of regional governments would petition the European Commission to assist.

The ship was found after a mafia turncoat told prosecutors he was involved in the 1993 sinking of the Cunsky to hide 120 containers of radioactive waste. A robot was sent down to investigate the vessel.

Posted in Other, Regional0 Comments

Global Warming Threatens Egypts Coastlines and the Nile Delta

Global Warming Threatens Egypts Coastlines and the Nile Delta
The Philae temples, and more notably – 60% of Egypts agricultural production could be lost to global warming if trends continue

Little by little, Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline is being swallowed up by the sea because of global warming, in some places as much as 100 yards a year.

Eventually priceless farmland in the low-lying Nile Delta, Egypt’s breadbasket, will be inundated. Two-third of the country’s 70 million population lives in the delta, which produces 60 percent of Egypt’s food.

As the polar ice caps melt, much of the northern delta, including the ancient port city of Alexandria, will disappear under the Mediterranean, scientists say.

Scientists believe that within 100 years, 20 percent of the delta will be on the seabed. If the doomsday scenario of Greenland and western Antarctica disappearing as well occurs, the sea will reach as far inland as Cairo’s suburbs.

Climate change poses serious dangers for the Middle East, one of the most volatile regions on the planet. Proponents of tough legislation against greenhouse gas emissions warn that global warming could lead to even greater instability in a region where history’s first battle was recorded in 1274 B.C.

The main problem, they say, is not just dwindling supplies of water, already a scarce commodity in the region, but flooding caused by rising sea levels.

This, along with thermal expansion of warming ocean waters, will critically affect food production, bringing hunger, political instability and potential cataclysm — not to mention hordes of hungry refugees pouring across the Mediterranean into southern Europe.

“We will pay for this one way or another,” General Anthony Zinni, who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East until he retired in 2006, warned recently.”We will pay to reduce greenhouse gases today and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we’ll pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll.”

In May 2007, the British government, which has championed the struggle against global warming, sought to focus global attention on the security threat posed by climate change.

“Resource-based conflicts are not new,” said Margaret Beckett, then Britain’s foreign secretary. “But in climate change we have a new and potentially disastrous dynamic.”

Beckett said that the Middle East, with 5 percent of the world’s population but only 1 percent of its water, would be particularly affected by climate change.

Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq would be especially hard hit by a drop in rainfall, with some 2 million displaced in the Nile Delta by rising sea levels.

Beckett said the Nile, lifeblood of Egypt since the time of the pharaohs, could lose 80 percent of its flow into the North African country. Egyptian officials say the Nile flow could drop by as much as 70 percent over the next 50 years.

Beckett’s dire predictions echoed the European Commission which warned in January that global warming could touch off a chain of regional conflicts over dwindling resources, worsening poverty, famine, mass migrations unprecedented in modern times and the proliferation of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever.

Christian Aid, a leading relief agency, estimates that global warming will create at least 1 billion refugees by 2050 as water shortages and crop failures drive them from their homes.

Water will be a critical element in any peace negotiations between Israel with the Palestinians and Syria, but the Jewish state says its rainfall has decreased by 100 millimeters a year, threatening final status talks.

Increasingly, international monitors say that climate change and environmental degradation threaten to spark a series of wars in the Middle East.

The brutal conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, which still splutters on despite peacemaking efforts, is seen to be in large part the result of worsening drought and desertification and thus a matrix of what may lie ahead.

In May 2008, the World Economic Forum warned that climate change and energy security were among the greatest risks facing the Middle East.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that by 2080 up to 3.2 billion people — one third of the planet’s population — will be short of water, with up to 600 million short of food and up to 7 million facing coastal flooding.

Many of those will be in the Middle East, joining the millions of Palestinians and Iraqis who are already refugees.

The impact of these events will be greatly worsened by rapid population growth in the Middle East and North Africa, from 127 million in 1970 to 305 million in 2005.

Posted in Drought, Energy, Global Warming & Climate Change, History, Military, Other, People, Population Growth, Regional0 Comments

Uzbekistan Concerned that Hydroelectric Power will Disrupt Agriculture

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Uzbekistan is concerned that proposed hydroelectric projects in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will disrupt its agriculture.

Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, External Service, Wednesday quoted Uzbek Ministry of Emergency Situations Vladimir Zafarov as saying that if the planned hydroelectric facilities are constructed with no regard for the agricultural needs of downstream states, if the water level on these dams rose above its usual highest mark in wintertime it would cause flooding and massive losses to agricultural fields and residential areas in towns and villages in the downstream states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

At issue is the glacial runoff of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, the longest in Central Asia, which originate in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

During the Soviet era water discharges were regulated by authorities in Moscow, but since 1991 the five Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been unable to achieve a binding regional agreement on the equitable distribution of the rivers’ flow.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Hydroelectric, Other, Regional0 Comments

India Warns that Climate Change Gaps Could Widen

NEW DELHI, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Gaps between developed and developing nations could widen farther in the absence of a global agreement on equity and burden-sharing on carbon emissions, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari warned.

Without such an agreement, climate change negotiations would likely spill over to other multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiation platforms and would “further accentuate existing divisions,” Ansari said, The Hindu reports.

Ansari opened a two-day conference in New Delhi Thursday on sustainable development and climate change, just after world leaders gathered in New York this week for the United Nations summit on climate change.

India now ranks fifth worldwide in the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

In comparing India’s emissions with other large polluters, Ansari stressed that developing nations such as India should not be held responsible for climate change.

Ansari said that India, with its rapidly growing economy and 17 percent of the world’s population, accounts for just 4 percent of carbon emissions, compared to the United States and China, which account for more than 16 percent each.

On a per-capita basis, India’s annual greenhouse gas emissions of 1.1 tons is “minuscule” compared to the 20 tons emitted by the United States, Ansari said.

The vice president pointed out that India’s primary energy consumption growth rate is 3.7 percent a year despite a GDP growth rate of about 9 percent.

“This contrasts with the pattern seen in developed countries and even a few major developing countries where higher GDP growth has followed the traditional pattern of increased use of energy,” he said.

During a roundtable session at the U.N. climate change talks Tuesday, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said the outcome of climate change talks in Copenhagen in December must ensure that developing nations can pursue “accelerated development” and have the resources “to cope and adapt to climate change,” the Press Trust of India reported.

India has “repeatedly reaffirmed that our per-capita emissions would never exceed the average per capita emissions of the developed countries, even as we pursue our development objectives,” Krishna said.

He noted that India is engaged in a number of domestic adaptation and mitigation actions on a voluntary basis, including solar energy, extensive deployment of renewable, use of clean coal technologies, boosting energy efficiency and promotion of green agriculture.

India’s domestic actions, Krishna said, should not be “crimped by an international review obligation”.

“The way forward must ensure that developing countries can pursue growth and poverty eradication,” he said, while pledging that India would pursue unilateral voluntary measures for the year 2020 at national level.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming & Climate Change, Other, Regional, Solar1 Comment

Iraq's Water Crisis Gets Worse Daily

BAGHDAD, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Iraq’s water crisis is getting worse by the day, adding to the political uncertainty sweeping the country ahead of potentially incendiary parliamentary elections in January.

On top of the cutbacks in the water flow of the life-giving Tigris and Euphrates rivers by Turkey, Iraq’s parched south is now threatened by encroaching tidal waters from the Gulf that are poisoning vital farmland, the result of climate change.

On Sept. 19, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that Ankara had agreed to increase the Euphrates flow to between 450 and 500 cubic meters per second until Oct. 20, after which Baghdad would have to negotiate a new deal.

But it will take much more than that to help the Iraqis, who are suffering one of the country’s worst droughts in living memory.

Apart from the land around the two great rivers that rise in Turkey’s Anatolia region, Iraq is largely desert. These days, its arable land is steadily drying up. Poor rains have damaged farmland even further.

Crop yields are so bad that a country once so fertile and known in antiquity as Mesopotamia – “the land between the rivers” – is now one of the largest importers of wheat in the world.

There is deepening distrust of Ankara in Iraq. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that Turkey has twice reneged on promises to increase the flow rate of the Euphrates, which also runs through Syria, Iraq’s northwestern neighbor.

Baghdad believes that the Syrians too are reducing the Euphrates flow. Damascus denies that, but since Maliki accused Syria of harboring the masterminds of devastating suicide bombings in the capital in August, Baghdad is not likely to get much support from Syria on the water issue.

Turkey has drastically reduced the flow of the two rivers since 2002 because of its ambitious plan to build 22 dams and hydroelectric power plants to develop its impoverished southeast.

Ankara declared in August that it had no water to spare in its reservoirs

So it was something of a surprise when Ankara made a bid to mediate between Baghdad and Damascus in late August as part of Turkey’s assertive new foreign policy aimed at establishing itself as a regional leader.

So far, the Turks have made no discernible progress on resolving the political dispute between Syria and Iraq, and the worsening water crisis is raising hackles even further.

The crisis has been worsened by Iranian dam-building to the east, cutting the flow of rivers such as the Karoun, which flows into the Shattt al-Arab, the waterway formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris at Qurna in southern Iraq.

Water has historically been a cause of friction in the largely arid Middle East and there have been concerns that conflict could erupt between Turkey and its riparian neighbors to the south.

This has not happened, even though Turkey and Syria went to the brink of war in 1998 over Syria’s harboring of Kurdish separatist leaders.

But Mustafa Kibargolu, of the Department of International Relations at Ankara’s Bilkent University, cautioned in a recent analysis: “The fact that any confrontation or high tension stemming from the unsatisfied demands of parties over the use of water has not been seen yet in the region should not mislead observers into thinking that this is unlikely.

“Unless some old policies are purged and new ones introduced, it remains a real possibility.”

The catastrophe that seems to be overtaking southern Iraq is likely to increase Baghdad’s ire as the water crisis continues to grow.

Sea water from the northern Gulf is steadily moving up the Shatt al-Arab, where salination has been kept in check by the fresh water flowing downstream from the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Earlier this month, 2,000 people from fishing villages along the lower reaches of the Shatt abandoned their homes. In August, 3,000 moved out.

Iraq’s dams are at about 10 percent capacity these days and hydroelectric power stations have seriously reduced output as turbines stalled because of low water volumes.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Hydroelectric, Other, People, Policies & Solutions, Regional, Tidal0 Comments

80 Pandas Removed in '08 Earthquake Will Return to Chinese Nature Preserve

CHENGDU, China, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Authorities say 60 giant pandas removed from China’s Sichuan Province after a 2008 earthquake should be back in a regional nature preserve by 2012.

Local authorities said three of the 63 pandas that resided at the Wolong National Nature Reserve prior to the 8.0-magnitude earthquake have since died or gone missing, one dying in the quake and another dying of an unspecified illness, China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency said Saturday.

Luo Zengbin, deputy head of Sichuan Provincial Forestry Department, said the third panda disappeared during the 2008 quake.

Luo added the natural disaster killed 12 panda protection workers in the province, while damaging 141,816 acres of the pandas’ habitat.

The deadly earthquake prompted authorities to relocate the surviving animals to various locations in China.

The nature reserve itself is undergoing a $55.5 million reconstruction effort that should be completed in 2011, Xinhua reported.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Regional0 Comments

Algae Blooming in Wisconsin Lakes Cause Residents & Animals to Fall Ill

MENOMONIE, Wis., Sept. 18 (UPI) — Blue-green algae has been a health hazard this summer for residents living near Menomin and Tainter lakes in Wisconsin, authorities said.

Smelly algae blooms on the lakes have been linked to the death of one dog and residents have complained of skin rashes, watery eyes and sore throats, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday.

“It’s awful,” said Carol Hake, who has had a home on Lake Menomin since 1963. “We have to keep our windows closed. We can’t even go to out in our back yard.”

Breathing dried algae particles in the air leads to respiratory problems and drinking water contaminated with blue-green algae can lead to liver damage, state Department of Health spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said.

The algae blooms when phosphorus from fertilizers enters the regional watershed, then drains into the lakes, said Ken Schreiber, water quality specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“I feel like I have moss on my tonsils,” Tainter Lake resident Linda Lawrence said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Drinking Water, Other, Regional0 Comments

Toxic Waste Clean Up Continues in Ivory Coast

ABDIJAN, Ivory Coast, Sept. 18 (UPI) — Waste removal workers say they expect cleaning up toxic waste around Abdijan, Ivory Coast, will take several weeks.

The toxic dumping rocked the administration of outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, with the Cabinet resigning after the scandal broke several weeks ago.

Officials attributed seven deaths to the waste, although autopsies haven’t confirmed the cause, the Integrated Regional Information Networks news agency reported Friday.

“This is dangerous stuff,” said Henri Petitgand, a spokesman for the Seche Group, which sent the clean-up team to the African country. “People should not get near it without protective gear.”

The chemical waste arrived in the port city last month on a ship chartered by Netherlands commodities company Trafigura Beheer and apparently dumped in residential areas by a local contractor. A U.N. report indicated the substance contains potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide.

The en masse resignations haven’t changed the situation much because all ministers were reappointed to their posts, with the exceptions of the transport and environment leaders, observers told IRIN.

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny said the transport minister was replaced because he was linked to permits “which are connected to this affair.” The environment minister was withdrawn by his party, the prime minister said.

Banny said it bribes likely were involved.

“I don’t think that these operations are done without money changing hands,” he told IRIN. “There is probably a corrupter and someone who has been corrupted somewhere.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Hydrogen, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Regional0 Comments

Chile Seeks to Develop Hydrocarbon Resources and Gas Supplies

SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Chile has redoubled efforts to boost gas supplies in its southern Magallanes province as a key part of the government program to boost economic development in the region.

Officials said the program would focus on finding new sources for gas but would be part of a wider effort to develop hydrocarbon resources in the region. The private sector is likely to be a major player in the exploration, development and production program.

Industry sources said Chile’s initiatives had received a boost lately with the news of dramatic discoveries in offshore basins in Brazil and Mexico.

Mexico, already a major producer, has boosted its oil and gas reserves with new discoveries, and Brazil is poised to be the largest oil and gas producer in South America.

Earlier this month Chile’s state oil company Enap and Canadian methanol producer Methanex signed a special operating permit with the state for the Dorado-Riquelme natural gas block in the Magallanes region, setting the stage for a new cycle of exploration.

Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez told reporters the agreement “is a clear sign of the interest that exists in our government to support the development of hydrocarbon projects, and also reinforces the fact that there are exploitable and commercially attractive gas reserves in the Magallanes region.”

Investment in the block, located 75 miles from Punta Arenas, the main city in Chile’s far south, is expected to continue through 2011 and reach $90 million, Gonzalez said.

Methanex already has four methanol plants in the Magallanes region with a combined annual production capacity of 3.8 million tons, but gas shortages have severely curtailed production. Argentina, the traditional supplier, cut back on supplies to Chile, arguing it needed most of its own gas resources.

The shortage of gas required to run the plants has driven Methanex to explore unconventional methods to find fuel for its underused methanol plants. Last month Methanex revealed it was looking to develop a wind farm to power its methanol production plants — but also, analysts said, to enhance its green credentials.

Although current plans for increased gas production are mainly concerned with providing fuel for the methanol plants, officials said the overall oil and gas development strategy was to make more gas supplies available for economic development in the region.

Enap said its experts were “convinced” that “there is plenty of gas in the region” that can help Chile overcome its chronic shortages.

The latest Chile Oil & Gas Report from Business Monitor International forecasts that Chile will account for 4.6 percent of Latin American regional oil demand by 2013, while making no meaningful contribution to supply.

As regards natural gas, BMI said, the region in 2008 consumed an estimated 191.3 billion cubic meters, with demand of 254.3 billion cubic meters targeted for 2013, a 32.9 percent growth.

Chile’s share of gas consumption in 2008 was an estimated 2.61 percent of the Latin American region, while it had no significant share of production. By 2013, Chile’s share of gas consumption is forecast to be 2.65 percent, BMI said. Accurate projections for Chilean gas production in the coming years are still hard to come by.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas, Other, Regional, Wind0 Comments

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