02 September 2010

Facebook ungreen, solar in Utah, one-person car pooling and other sustainability news

Top Stories

U.N. to study impact of incomplete climate action.reliability high.
"The U.N. panel of climate scientists will look at the costs of "second best" ways of fighting global warming amid doubts that all countries will sign up to U.N.-led action, a leading expert said on Tuesday. ... 'We intend to carry out "second best" scenarios, where we assume we have a fragmented climate regime, where we have limited availability of technologies, to describe a much more realistic policy space,' Edenhofer told Reuters by telephone." See Reuters story.

Greenpeace to Facebook CEO: No More Coal.reliability medium.
"Wednesday morning, Greenpeace stepped up its campaign against Facebook’s decision to build its latest data center in Oregon in the footprint of utility Pacific Power that largely derives electricity from coal. The environmental group sent a letter  to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to commit to phasing out the use of coal-generated electricity to power Facebook’s data centers." From The GigaOM Network. Greenpeace's letter is here. Related Reuters blog post. [Check out this Facebook page.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Burger King drops palm oil supplier linked to Borneo rainforest destruction.reliability medium.
"Burger King announced it would no longer source palm oil from Sinar Mas, an Indonesian conglomerate, after an independent audit showed one of the company's subsidiaries had destroyed rainforests and carbon-dense peatlands in Borneo and Sumatra, according to a statement on the fast food chain's Facebook page." See mongabay.

Largest Solar Rooftop Project in U.S. Planned For Salt Palace.reliability high.
"NexGen Energy and Bella Energy have been chosen to develop a solar installation on the roof of the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City. The team presented a plan to install up to 2.6 megawatts of solar modules on the structure. If built to that capacity, the companies say it will be the largest U.S. rooftop solar facility, generating more than 3,330,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year while reducing the building’s consumption by 25%." From Environmental Leader. [Big flat roof = $$]

Philly subway to capture energy from braking trains.reliability high.
"The regenerative braking system will collect energy in a large battery installed along the busy Market-Frankford Line. The stored energy will be used to power trains when they leave the station and to earn money from energy sold back to the grid." See CNET News. [The Mumbai Metro uses regenerative breaking, but throughout the system not just at one station.]

Government and Regulation

U.S. test shows water problem near natgas drill site.reliability high.
"U.S. government officials urged residents of a Wyoming farming community near natural gas drilling sites not to use private well water for drinking or cooking because of chemical contamination." The EPA didn't give an opinion on the source of the contamination, but the testing was part of a program to assess the water-quality impacts of hydraulic fracturing methods of natural gas extraction. From Reuters. ["Fracking" promises to vastly increase natural gas supplies, but it seems likely that EPA regulations are on the way which may increase the costs of the method.]

New California law expands carpool lane use.reliability high.
"The measure will allow up to 40,000 more California motorists to drive solo in the special lanes. It also extends the lifespan of existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles. The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by General Motors, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars, including G.M.'s Chevrolet Volt, due out later this year, as well as the new Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf." See Los Angeles Times. But see related:

Chevrolet Volt will not be eligible for HOV-lane access until mid-2012.reliability medium.
"Late Tuesday night California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 535  into law, extending access to the high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes to certain very low and zero emissions vehicles. This new class of vehicles known as Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (enh-ATPZEVs) and includes plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles like the Leaf and Toyota's Prius PHEV. Unfortunately, there are some caveats. SB 535 doesn't take effect until January 1, 2012 and even then only 40,000 of the special stickers needed for HOV access will be made available. In order to qualify, the vehicle has to be rated as an enh-ATPZEV, which brings up the second problem for Volt drivers. A General Motors spokesperson confirmed that the 2011 and 2012 Volt will not be enh-ATPZEV certified. ... GM spokesman Rob Peterson verified that the Volt will be updated to enh-ATPZEV in mid-2012 when the 2013 model is introduced.". From Autoblog green.

Science and Economics

Warmer temperatures in China to reduce crop yields.reliability high.
"With the climate set to get warmer from greenhouse gases, Chinese scientists predicted on Thursday that freshwater for agriculture will shrink further in China, reducing crop yields in the years ahead. In a paper published in Nature, they said the temperature in China had gone up by 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1960 and will increase by another 1 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2100." Reuters story. Abstract of Nature article here. Grist article.

U.N. climate panel urged to reform, stick to science.reliability high.
"The U.N. climate panel should make predictions only when it has solid evidence and should avoid policy advocacy, scientists said in a report on Monday that called for thorough reform of the body." See Reuters article.

And . . .

The latest post at Doc's Green Blog:  Glacial Slowness?.reliability medium.
"Glaciers have long been a byword for slowness. But perhaps they are not the slowest thing around. ... The ice sheets will probably reach their tipping points before the Congress does." Doc's Green Blog.