24 August 2010

Australian elections, cycling and health, ethanol in China and other green news

Top Stories

Analysis: Australia's 'green' poll may accelerate climate action.reliability high.
"Australia could accelerate action on climate change, possibly resurrecting an emissions trading scheme, after independent and Greens MPs won the balance of power in elections that left a hung parliament." More analysis, quotes. See Reuters.

Study says offshore drilling industry forever changed after Gulf spill.reliability medium.
"A new analysis  from the tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton concludes the BP oil spill and the political reaction to it could prompt consolidation in the offshore industry and reduce Gulf of Mexico oil production. Tougher liability rules — though Congress hasn’t decided how much tougher — the increased insurance costs that come with them, higher penalties, tougher permitting requirements and other new rules will together change the landscape fundamentally, the company concludes." More. From The Hill blog.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Shrinking Packages Help Dell Cut Material Use by Nearly 9M Pounds.reliability high.
"In late 2008 the company announced plans  to cut packaging by 20 million pounds, make 75 percent of its packaging curbside recyclable and increase recycled or renewable content by 40 percent. ... Since mid-2009, Dell has cut its packaging by 8.7 million pounds. Adding onto the 9.5 million pounds reduced in fiscal year 2009, Dell is up to 18.2 million pounds of its goal. Campbell said much of that has been possible with engineering tools that help optimize packaging size." More details. Greener World Media.

Wide use of corn-based ethanol fuel not choice for China: experts.reliability high.
"Agricultural experts said Saturday it was too early for China to adopt corn-based ethanol fuel to feed automobiles, given the expensive production costs and the country's large population. ... The lingering drought that parched southwest China early this year, along with the devastating floods that hit most parts of China this summer, raised concerns over the country's grain supplies and stoked the debate whether China should allow the production of ethanol from corn." From Xinhua.

Massachusetts Cap and Trade Helps Carlson Orchards Go Solar.reliability medium.
"One of the largest orchards in Massachusetts has just cut its utility bill 80% with a $1.1 million 220 KW solar power plant. The state of Massachusetts helped Carlson Orchards with grants totaling $595,000 to help in the installation of the 1,050 solar photovoltaic panels. Massachusetts earns money to invest in renewable energy with cap and trade auctions as a participating member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)." From CleanTechnica.

Government and Regulation

Vedanta mine plan halted by Indian government.reliability high.
"Controversial plans to develop a bauxite mine on sacred tribal land in India have been scuppered as India's environment ministry has rejected a proposal by Vedanta Resources to mine the aluminium ore in the eastern state of Orissa. ... a government inquiry said that mining would destroy the way of life of the area's "endangered" and "primitive" people, the Kutia and Dongria Kondh tribes. The four-person committee also accused a local subsidiary of Vedanta of violating forest conservation and environment protection regulations." See The Guardian.

Science and Economics

More Walking, Cycling Linked to Healthier Weights Worldwide.reliability high.
"Researchers found that people are more likely to have healthy weights if they live in places where walking and cycling are more common. The link held up among nations, cities and U.S. states. ... Pucher and colleagues analyzed statistics about walking and cycling for all purposes from 14 countries, including Sweden, Spain and Great Britain. They also looked at statistics about walking and cycling to work (it had to be the main way people got there) in all 50 states and 47 of the 50 largest U.S. cities. ... There is a connection between more walking and cycling and lower levels of obesity and diabetes, the researchers found." From Health Behavior News Service. PDF of the paper here. [The authors emphasize that many other studies support these results and the public health benefits of providing more and better walking and cycling infrastructure. One might argue that comparing countries in bicycling and weights could reflect the fact that poorer people can't afford cars and can't afford excess food. (Envision the impoverished masses of The Netherlands and Switzerland, two of the top cycling nations?) That argument is not likely to hold when comparing U.S. cities though. "Among American cities, the highest rates of walking and cycling to work were in Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle."]