26 March 2010

Friday news and comment on bottled water, future toilets, meat emissions, vanishing real estate and other selections

Top Stories

Bottled Water: The Video.reliability medium.
Video--Annie Leonard has a new video about bottled water. "In the U.S., the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International is using the day to tell people to stop buying bottled water. ... The group is a highlighting an entertaining video by Annie Leonard, an author who is know for her animated video 'The Story of Stuff'". From Boston Globe Green Blog. [Naturally Ms. Leonard's criticisms only apply where tap water is safely drinkable.]

UN report: World's biggest cities merging into 'mega-regions'.reliability high.
"The phenomenon of the so-called 'endless city' could be one of the most significant developments - and problems - in the way people live and economies grow in the next 50 years, says UN-Habitat, the agency for human settlements, which identifies the trend of developing mega-regions in its biannual State of World Cities report. The largest of these, says the report - launched today at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro - is the Hong Kong-Shenhzen-Guangzhou region in China, home to about 120 million people. Other mega-regions have formed in Japan and Brazil and are developing in India, west Africa and elsewhere. ... said the report's co-author Eduardo Lopez Moreno: 'They [mega-regions], rather than countries, are now driving wealth.'" Story in The Guardian. Access the report here.

Companies, Industries, Products, Markets and Supply Chains

The Water-Saving Toilets of the Future.reliability medium.
"If you're using a toilet built before 1994, you are wasting 3.5 gallons or more per flush, and if you've got a toilet made after the U.S. Congress's Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandated only 'low-flow' models be sold after 1994, then the good news is you're only wasting 1.6 gallons per flush." Article lists and profiles "some of the water-saving toilets of the future, hopefully coming soon to a water closet near you." Story and pictures at GreenBiz blog. [Indoor plumbing is good, but wasting water is bad.]

General Electric to build offshore wind manufacturing plant in UK.reliability high.
"The US conglomerate General Electric (GE) announced plans for an offshore wind turbine manufacturing plant in Britain, creating up to 2,000 jobs. The company said it had not yet decided where to build the facility, but its plans would result in about £100m being invested in Britain, creating clean energy jobs at both the new site and in the supply chain. ... "This investment is tied to the successful deployment of the UK government's port development fund," a company statement said." See The Guardian.

Government, Regulation and Geopolitics

Rising seas settle fight over isle.reliability high.
"For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island's gone. New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. 'What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,' said Hazra." See MSNBC from AP. [Sea level rise and geopolitics.]

Taiwan: Help for a Tiny Nation Facing Rising Waters.reliability high.
"Taiwan pledged Tuesday to rescue Kiribati, a tiny South Pacific ally, from rising sea levels in a move intended to raise Taiwan’s international profile." Story in New York Times from Reuters. [More diplomacy of sea level rise.]

Transportation Department Embraces Bikes and Business Groups Cry Foul.reliability high.
New York State "Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a 'major policy revision' that aims to give bicycling and walking the same policy and economic consideration as driving. ... It calls on state and local governments to go beyond minimum planning and maintenance requirements to provide convenient and safe amenities for bikers and walkers. 'Walking and biking should not be an afterthought in roadway design,' the policy states. Transportation agencies are urged to take action on a number of fronts, including the creation of pathways for bike riders and pedestrians on bridges, and providing children with safe biking and walking routes to schools." Some objected: "'Treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe,' warned  Carter Wood, a senior advisor at the National Association of Manufacturers." See story in New York Times Green Inc. blog.

Science and Economics

UN body to look at meat and climate link.reliability high.
"UN specialists are to look again at the contribution of meat production to climate change, after claims that an earlier report exaggerated the link." A recently reported analysis says that the comparison the UN report made between meat production and transport was flawed, since the meat analysis considered the full life cycle then compared the results with narrower figures on transport's impact. "One of the authors of Livestock's Long Shadow, FAO livestock policy officer Pierre Gerber, told BBC News he accepted Dr Mitlohner's criticism. 'I must say honestly that he has a point - we factored in everything for meat emissions, and we didn't do the same thing with transport,' he said. 'But on the rest of the report, I don't think it was really challenged.' FAO is now working on a much more comprehensive analysis of emissions from food production, he said." From BBC News. Press release on Dr. Mitlohner's 2009 study here, and abstract here. [Meat production may not generate more GHG emissions than transport, especially in the U.S. where transport emissions are so huge. But some meat production causes much greater emissions per pound of product than other meat production, and enormous water use too. This will be an ongoing debate.]

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]