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South Korea's Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise to 620 Million Tons in 2007

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (UPI) — South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.9 percent — totaling 620 million tons — in 2007, the government announced Monday, Xinhua reports.

That represents the highest growth rate since 2002 and is nearly three times faster than the growth rate in 2006. It is also a 103-percent increase from 1990 greenhouse gas emission totals.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea’s emissions are the fastest growing of all industrialized states.

Seoul attributes the sharp rise to increases in fossil fuel output because of a fall in nuclear power generation as well as energy consumption in the country’s steel and petrochemical sectors.

Yet South Korea regards carbon dioxide reduction not as a burden but a “business model,” the country’s climate-change ambassador, Rae-Kwon Chung, told Der Spiegel during the Copenhagen climate-change conference.

Rae-Kwon, who has been active in climate negotiations since they began internationally in 1991, is sometimes referred to as the “godfather” of the green growth movement, which contends that countries can boost wealth by reducing emissions.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times during the Copenhagen talks, Rae-Kwon said world leaders need to capture the “opportunity” of renewable energy technology. To do so, he said, they need to rethink some fundamentals of daily life: tax structures, transportation patterns and, most importantly, to accept that cheaper energy is better for economic growth.

“They’re walking the walk” in South Korea, Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has worked closely with Chung on climate issues, told the Times. Schmidt said Chung “has had a very big impact in how South Korea views their role” on emission limits, domestically and internationally.

Recent announcements may confirm Schmidt’s observations.

Last week South Korea said it plans to officially register by the end of January its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the projected emission level in 2020 compared with 2005.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced Dec. 17 that $10 million would be used to establish a Global Green Growth Institute, bringing economists and top researchers together to develop new ideas.

And South Korea said Monday it would launch a carbon emissions trading scheme aimed at reducing the country’s emissions 1 percent to 2 percent of 2005 to 2007 averages, reports Xinhua.

The Korea Stock Exchange would serve as a platform for the three-year pilot program, starting as early as late 2010, said the Ministry of Environment. A total of 641 organizations will participate, including South Korea’s 14 local governments and 446 public organizations.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Quality Standards & Emissions, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Consumption, Energy, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Organizations, Science, Space, & Technology, Transportation, Walking0 Comments

Swiss Alps Wildlife Hurt by Increase in Winter Tourism

BERN, Switzerland, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Swiss authorities say they are urging winter tourists to be aware of their impact on wildlife in the Alps.

With the booming popularity of winter sports such as free-ride snowboarding and snowshoe walking, Alpine wildlife — especially its deer population — is being impacted as never before, and officials are becoming concerned that human activity is threatening their survival, Swissinfo reported Sunday.

In response, Swiss federal wildlife officials, in cooperation with environmental groups and tourism managers, have launched an international awareness campaign urging visitors to stick to established routes, the Web site said.

Swiss mountain ranger Andres Overturf wouldn’t point fingers at any particular sport or activity, but noted that skiers, snowboarders and cross-country snowshoe hikers are all impacting wildlife by taking unpredictable paths.

“Animals can get used to human presence off-piste but only if people stick to the same routes and zones,” Overturf told Swissinfo, saying wild animals are losing crucial retreat spaces and must expend much physical energy to run away through high snow and cold temperatures.

“Added to this is food scarcity and often there is not enough time to rest because of the stress,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Animals, Business & Economics, Consumer Products, Ecosystems, Mammals, Nature & Ecosystems, Pollution & Toxins, Recreation & Travel, Walking0 Comments

Canadian Teen Stranded on Arctic Ice Floe Rescued by Military

TRENTON, Ontario, Nov. 10 (UPI) — A Canadian teenager was recovering Tuesday, a day after military rescuers in aircraft plucked him from a free-floating ice floe in Hudson Bay.

Four Coral Harbor men who were part of the rescue effort were safe after getting stuck in the ice floe three miles from shore while heading home. They spent the night on the ice and had to be rescued themselves.

They made it back to shore Tuesday with help from six other men who ventured out on all-terrain vehicles and helped them drag their boat to land, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

“They were able to drag that vessel and kind of run it through the open water that was between them and managed that back to land, basically walking and dragging the vessel mostly,” Capt. Mike Young of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ontario, told the CBC.

Young said the men were never in any immediate danger, as they were wearing warm clothes and carrying emergency supplies such as heating sources.

Young said the teenage boy had set out on a weekend hunting expedition with his uncle from the village of Coral Harbor in Nunavut. At some point, the pair’s snowmobiles broke down and the uncle set out on foot for help, the CBC said.

While he was gone, the ice cracked and the teenager began floating away from the area.

The boy’s family requested names be withheld, village officials said.

Young said military aircraft first spotted the youth Sunday night but lost him in the darkness. Monday morning, he was spotted again 25 miles away from the last sighting, Young said.

Rescue technicians in arctic survival suits parachuted to an adjacent ice floe and “bodysurfed” to the boy, who was conscious and responsive, Young said. The boy was winched to safety and hospitalized with hypothermia, the CBC said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Other, Walking0 Comments

Medical Marijuana University in Oregon Teaches Students How to Grow Pot

HILLSBORO, Ore., Nov. 4 (UPI) — Organizers of a medical marijuana “university” in Oregon said the program has helped dozens of people learn how to grow cannabis and use it to manage illness.

The Oregon Medical Cannabis University, which opened last month in Hillsboro, offers classes and contains community centers where students can access the drug, KPTV, Portland, Ore., reported Wednesday.

“We’ve had people with cancer, Parkinson’s, broken bones. We had a guy with hip surgery who was in a wheelchair when he came here and (now) he’s walking around with a cane,” said Claudia Lavander, the university’s president.

Lavander said owners currently fund the school but they hope to eventually fund the classes with membership payments.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Human Health & Wellness, Walking0 Comments

Florida Truck Driver Bitten by Two Poisonous Snakes While Helping Dog

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 28 (UPI) — A Florida truck driver was bitten by two species of poisonous snakes while trying to retrieve his runaway dog, a Tampa hospital reports.

Spokesman Will Darnell says John Agin, 46, was the 13th snake bite patient treated at University Community Hospital this year, the St. Petersburg (Fla.,) Times reports.

Agin said he was walking his rat terrier, Lil Bit, Tuesday when the dog ran away from him.

While chasing her, he suddenly felt a sharp, stinging pain in his right shin and when he looked down he saw a 10-inch, red-and-yellow snake gnawing on his foot.

Hillsborough County paramedics identified one bite as belonging to a pygmy rattlesnake. Hospital workers said a second bite was probably inflicted by a coral snake.

“It’s not impossible for snakes of two different kinds to be in the same area at the same time,” said Lt. Lisa Wood of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s anti-venom unit.

Agan said it’s not the first time he’s been bitten by a snake. He’s also had encounters with a water moccasin, a diamondback rattlesnake and some non-venomous species.

“They happened mostly around my yard,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Walking0 Comments

Earthquake Study Hampered by Closed Border Between Armenia & Turkey

YEREVAN, Armenia, Oct. 9 (UPI) — Turkey’s closed border with Armenia is hampering completion of a project examining earthquake risk in both countries, researchers said.

The border has been closed since the Nagorno-Karabakh war that ended in May 1994.

Fault lines straddling the border are being studied by an international team of geologists, including Chuck Connor, who heads the University of South Florida’s geology department. The analysis began soon after the December 1988 earthquake in Gyumri, Armenia, which killed nearly 25,000 people.

Detailed research on the fault lines would reveal the earthquake risks for both countries,” Connor told the Hurriyet Daily News in a story published Friday.

“But our research is still unfinished,” he said. “We cannot cover an area only a few meters away at walking distances because of the border problem.”

The team hopes to convince politicians in Turkey and Armenia that science knows no boundaries, said Julia Crummy, student from the University of Leeds, England.

“It is not possible to comprehend or understand closed borders in this age,” Crummy said. “Problems can only be overcome through dialogue.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Walking0 Comments

Houston SPCA Seizes 1,000 Animals from Home

HOUSTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Officials with the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say they seized 1,045 animals from a local home on suspicion of mistreatment.

Houston SPCA investigator Charles Jantzen said many of the animals taken from a northwest Houston home Wednesday had been crammed into cages and were living with little food and water, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

“They were in deplorable conditions throughout the entire property,” Jantzen said. “Very few of the animals had the basic staples of life — food, water and shelter.”

Most of the animals seized following an anonymous tip were birds, but SPCA investigators also rescued dogs, snakes, iguanas, gerbils and a goat.

“There was a goat there that was skin-and-bones walking around the property,” Houston SPCA spokeswoman Meera Nandlal said.

The Chronicle said the unidentified owners of the home told authorities they sell the animals at area flea markets. No arrests were reported as the homeowners were reportedly cooperating with authorities.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Birds, Other, Walking0 Comments

Missing Cat Travels 2,000 Miles in 3 Years Across Australia

HOBART, Australia, Sept. 16 (UPI) — A long-haired cat named Clyde was returned to his family Wednesday in Tasmania after turning up at the other end of Australia three years after he went missing.

Television cameras recorded the reunion between the Himalyan and Katrina Phillips in the Derwent Valley near Hobart, The Tasmania Mercury reported. Phillips said she was excited, but Clyde appeared to be taking everything in stride.

“He was so relaxed it was like he never left home,” Phillips, 19, said.

Donna Weber, a veterinarian in Cloncurry in the Queensland Outback more than 2,000 miles north of Hobart, identified Clyde from a microchip in his ear earlier this week, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The cat wandered into the grounds of the Cloncurry Hospital a few months ago, and staffers there had been taking care of him.

“We don’t know where he’s come from to get to the hospital, if he’s run away from some tourists traveling through or if he’s been walking all the way from Tasmania,” Weber said.

Weber said Phillips and her family plastered the area around their home with signs after Clyde disappeared but heard nothing of him.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Television, Walking0 Comments

Streets for Solar

Steam rises from the never-ending stretch of road ahead. What looks like water rolling over the street, is just heat escaping. Walking on the blacktop barefoot would leave anyone but a fire-walker grunting in pain.

Our planet is covered with a web of streets and this cement absorbs and stores an abundance of the sun’s energy. Researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), are looking into ways of using this heat as yet another renewable energy source. They have already developed solar collectors that would transfer the energy into electricity.

The ball started rolling with the president of Novotech Inc., Michael Hulen, who funded the research project meant to prove the efficiency of Novotech’s patented heat absorbing design. Based in Acton, Massachusetts, Novotech is one of the biggest suppliers of infrared optical and semiconductor materials.

WPI’s research was presented at the Annual Symposium of the International Society for Asphalt Pavements August 18-20, in Zurich, but like most things in life, the presentations are not accessible for free so I have no information about WPI’s results as of yet. (In addition to the topic of ‘roads for energy production’, other areas of interest such as noise reduction, recycling, drainage and environmentally friendly maintinence on pavements were also discussed at the event.)

The idea of using already existing streets as solar panels is a promising one; Roads are reworked every few years and the technology can be incorporated when repaving is necessary. Not only that, but the unfortunate truth is that roads, parking lots and sidewalks are more common than anything else in many areas. With Novotech’s design, at least these concrete landmasses can be retrofitted as solar power generators.

The heat collectors would be located a few centimeters underneath the pavement, not changing the outward appearance. Cars will roll along on the roads, as usual, but now power will be generated right underneath the tires.

For more information, check out an in depth article at Science Daily.

Posted in Cars, Electricity, Energy, Homes & Buildings, Other, Recycling, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Walking0 Comments

Masdar-Zero Pollution City Living

It isn’t fog that rolls down the hill these days, but smog. Cars spill noxious fumes out their tailpipes and factories send plumes of smoke into the air. It has come to the point where holding your breath is the only solution when wandering across the street or between shops. These problems won’t exist in Masdar, Abu Dhabi the world’s first carbon neutral city.

Launched in 2007, the completion of this highly ambitious plan will occur around 2020. No cars or any other polluting vehicles are allowed in the city, waste and water are recycled, while recyclable plastics and cement will be used during construction. It is estimated that up to 80% of water used during irrigation will be recycled: water seeps through the earth and while some is absorbed by the plants, the rest will flow into a collection area to be reused again later, while fencing used during construction will eventually be resold and recycled.

Foster and Partners, an architectural company focused on design and function, planned Masdar: “Rooted in a carbon neutral ambition, the city itself is car free. With a maximum distance of 200m to the nearest transport link and amenities, the compact network of streets encourages walking and is complemented by a personalized rapid transport system. The shaded walkways and narrow streets will create a pedestrian-friendly environment in the context of Abu Dhabi’s extreme climate. It also articulates the tightly planned, compact nature of traditional walled cities. With expansion carefully planned, the surrounding land will contain wind, photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, so that the city will be entirely self-sustaining.”

The tightly packed city will resemble stereotypical Arabian style fused with modern technology-almost comparable to scenes from the jetsons. Visitors and inhabitants will need to get around on foot, bikes, segways or use the underground personal transit system to get around within Masdar’s walls. This isn’t as restricting as it sounds. For example, the solar powered personal rapid transit system (PRT) doesn’t follow a fixed route, but rather takes its load of passengers (up to 6) to any of the 1500 proposed stations throughout the area.

Trees planted throughout the city will provide the 50,000-100,000 inhabitants relief from the desert’s bright rays while numerous fountains add aesthetic appeal and humidify the dry air.

Building planners are taking task of building a zero-emission city seriously, and it seems feasible with the help of partners such as

  • Europlasma-a company that provides a technology that turns toxic ashes to glass and garbage to fuel;
  • Solyndra-a company providing one of the world’s most efficient solar panels;
  • Segway-company of the famous single passenger standing scooter; and
  • Bioregional-an independant environmental organization hired to calculate the carbon footprint left by Masdar’s various stages of development.

Skeptics claim that no city could ever be completely carbon neutral and that an exorbitant amount of energy is wasted making products like solar panels and personal transportation vehicles. This may be the case, but one should look at the bigger picture: Masdar is an experiment and improvements will always be made with technology.

The many years of waste-free living provided by the city will eventually offset the energy consumed during its production, as well. Costa Rica, Norway and Libya have also shown an interest in developing their own zero-carbon cities. It is nice to hear that some people aren’t just wasting their breath when it comes to discussing pollution, but actually trying to do something about it.

Posted in Cars, Homes & Buildings, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Transportation, Walking, Wind1 Comment

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