05 March 2010

Snowboarders speak out, Pepsi goes viral, How Now Cow Power? and other Friday selections from GreenBase

Top Stories

US Senate's top climate skeptic accused of waging 'McCarthyite witch-hunt'.reliability high.
"The US Congress's most ardent global warming sceptic is being accused of turning the row over climate science into a McCarthyite witch-hunt by calling for a criminal investigation of scientists. Climate scientists say Senator James Inhofe's call for a criminal investigation into American as well as British scientists who worked on the UN climate body's report or had communications with East Anglia's climate research unit represents an attempt to silence debate on the eve of new proposals for a climate change law." Story at Reuters.

Winter Sports Champions Fight Canada's Tar Sand Industry.reliability medium.
Winter-sport athletes have been speaking out against Canada's tar sands industry, blaming it for contributing to global warming and harming snow sport. "Increasing concern over the impact of global warming on the future of snow sports is putting a spotlight on Canada's oil sands industry, the country's fastest growing source of global warming pollution and the dirtiest form of oil in the world. In conjunction with athlete protest, Sierra Club launched a U.S.-based "Love Winter, Hate the Oil Sands" campaign that includes ads targeting winter sports enthusiasts, a new website and tens of thousands of emails asking Americans to sign a petition to President Obama." See Celsias site.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Pepsi Refresh Project Goes Viral.reliability high.
Video: "In an example of a major consumer goods company using social media to market itself via a sustainability message, PepsiCo’s Project Refresh video has garnered more than 465,000 viewings on Youtube. The video, which implores consumers to apply for grants for projects related to energy efficiency, the environment and other areas, is part of Pepsi’s refocused marketing campaign." From Environmental Leader. [PepsiCo believes this campaign will sell more drinks than a Super Bowl ad.]

Study: Wind now accounts for 20% of Iowa's power.reliability high.
"A new study shows wind energy production in Iowa is continuing to grow and now accounts for up to 20 percent of the state's electricity. At the same time, the study released Wednesday says electrical costs to consumers in Iowa have remained stable and are among the lowest in the nation." Story at Des Moines Register from AP. PDF of policy brief here. [So when you think wind power, after you think "Denmark", think "Iowa".]

Special Report: How Green Certification Programs Address Smoking/Nonsmoking.reliability high.
Compares some of the many green certification programs for hotels on how they handle smoking issues. Finds that there is great variation between the programs in terms of whether properties with smoking rooms can be certified, and great inconsistency within the programs themselves. Full story in Green Lodging News. [Whether you think smoking in lodging facilities is an environmental hazard or not, this article reveals the craziness that arises when there are many competing certification schemes, some of them created by interested parties.]

The power of cow manure: Is it too noxious?reliability medium.
Converting cow manure into biogas and then burning it in internal-combustion generators to make electricity turns out to emit too much NOx for California's regulators. Dairy operators have to decide what expensive emissions-control equipment they will install, and need to deal with complex permitting rules. See Los Angeles Times Greenspace blog. [The obvious alternative is to clean up the biogas and sell it to the local gas utility, rather than burn it on the farm. Utility-scale gas-fired generators are much more efficient and are already permitted. Or it may be sold for home heating and cooking. This is being done by at least one large dairy in California.]

Science, Technology and Economics

Genetically engineered tobacco plant cleans up environmental toxin.reliability high.
Researchers at Centre for Infection at St. George's University of London have genetically engineered tobacco to produce antibodies to a widespread environmental toxin, microcystin-LR, which is produced by toxic pond scum and makes water unfit for use. They demonstrated that the antibodies could inactivate the toxin in water in a laboratory setting. See EurekAlert. See abstract here. [Hooray! After talking about plant-produced-antibody environmental cleanup for more than 25 years, we finally have a laboratory example! Microcystin containing 'blooms' are a problem worldwide, causing liver damage. Tobacco may not be the best way to treat them. Lemna anyone?]

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