Archive for September, 2010

China’s Climate Treaty

In China the outlooks on an international climate change treaty isn’t very positive. At the moment it seems as climate change treaties are put on the back seat in the eyes of many countries. The issue seems to have lost its precedence of importance to many politicians. With little interest for the subject, by other countries, it is pretty improbable that things will meet China’s hopeful 2011 deadline. The treaty is going to consist of input from over 200 countries world wide. The biggest issue is the skeptics of other countries concering China’s commitment themselves. Being the biggest and most populated country in the world, China itself is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. The westerns are looking for China to give itself more binding conditions. The biggest obstacle that poses an issue at the moment is the United States, as it is stated by Li Gao, as reported by the website Reuters, “”The biggest obstacle comes from the United States,” he said.”Without any (climate change) legislation, it can’t possibly join in a legally binding international document.” With one of the worldly powerhouse countries clearly not 100% ready to commit to this, it is unsure if and when this treaty will be passed.

-Tiffany Thai

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The Tide is High…

hyturbineThe tides are rising and so is the demand for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. OTEC is a new alternative energy source that generates electricity from water as a heat engine. The temperature difference from our oceans actually creates efficient energy. Currently, the problem with OTEC is that it doesn’t generate a lot of energy, so it’s up to Congress to determine if the costs outweigh the benefits, but changes in heat exchange show promise. 70% of the Earth is currently covered with water and the sun is heating the waters to generated electricity. With a combination of solar energy and hydropower a new alternative energy source and actually dominate the wind energy markets. Recent attempts at implementing OTEC failed because of costs and low efficiency rates, but if thermal efficiency were to increase in magnitude, electrical sources might be changed altogether. In a cost-benefit analysis, the sum of money Congress has to put out may gut the economy, but the overall benefits from saving our natural resources will greatly outweigh.

-Nicholas Chan

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The Man on the Moon

coperWith the rising consumption of fossil fuels, a gas from the moon is becoming a promising potential source. Mineral samples known as Helium-3 (H3) are similar to the natural gas sources we use at home. Unfortunately, the amount of H3 on Earth doesn’t come close to the almost infinite resource on the moon. When H3 fuses with deuterium the reaction produces energy that we can use on Earth. Just 25 tons alone can power the United States for almost a year. The process of H3 extraction involves collecting various samples of moon soil and rocks. Once collected, a high temperature of almost 800 degrees Celsius is able to produce a tone of helium. The moon has about one million tons of helium 3 enough to last us a lifetime. Compared to fossil fuels, the moon contains 10 time more energy from H3 sources. One major setback to the project is the reactor technology that will take time, money, and effort to develop. It is noted that the process and test trials will take almost another 30 years. Scientists say that by 2050, the Earth will run out of fossil fuel sources, so determined development and funding for the experimental reactor might be risky, but it might be the only solution to our huge problem that might end all life on Earth.

-Nicholas Chan

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The Dangers of Oil

For many years the United States has relied on oil for fuel, continually ignoring the harms that it causes to the environment and that it will eventually run out. After the BP oil spill we witnessed, first hand, how dangers producing oil can be, but they are more dangers that exist after production. For example the delivery of oil itself is very dangerous.

The oil that is imported by the United States is delivered in tankers. “The risk of an oil spill occurring because of tanker carrying either foreign crude or refined petroleum is more likely than an oil spill caused by offshore exploration or production platform. Over the last 50 years, offshore drilling spills have unleashed a little more than 1 million tons of oil, while tanker accidents have spilled 4 million.”

Over all the production of oil is dangerous and in the best interest of the United States. We must find a better solution to our energy needs because our  environment in danger if we do not.

-Funmilayo Amubieya

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Don’t throw away that oil – it can fuel an 18-wheeler!

After deep-frying a batch of fries and chicken-nuggets, I take the dirty oil, pour it into a bag, and throw it in the trash (this is contrary to pouring it down the sink, which can clog your pipes!).  However, an innovative use for what is now being called “Waste Vegetable Oil” has emerged: this ‘useless’ liquid can be used as a biofuel.

Energy Bulletin, in an article describing the use of  as an alternative energy source, explains that vegetable oil “can be used for more than frying fast food!” It can be effectively turned into biodiesel, a type of fuel used in certain vehicles, namely 18-wheelers and trucks.

Although biodiesel is not used in the majority of vehicles on the roads (sorry sedan and SUV drivers!), it can effectively work as a source of alternative energy for many people on the road. According to Energy Bulletin, its benefits outweigh its disadvantages:

– Better engine lubrication, safety, pricing

– NO CO2 EMMISIONS!

– Cheaper maintenance of car (no need for costly products)

This is definitely an alternative energy source worth looking at.

– Cameron Clark

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No Corny Jokes, Just Corny Gas

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Iowa, there is a farmer. Now this is no ordinary farmer, this farmer conducts his farming procedures in the top corn producing state in America. As you can probably tell, he farms corn. The importance of Farmer Brown’s corn is fueling (get it? Fueling?) a debate between the Renewable Fuels Association and the oil industry. The Environmental Protection Agency said it’ll makes its decision by the end of this month on whether or not to allow gas retailers to sell gas with 15 percent ethanol in it instead of the alloted 10 percent. Excuse me if I’m just being ignorant, but is it really in the jurisdiction of the EPA to use the environment to essentially enable the harm of it. I mean even if we use more ethanol in our gas, we still push out emissions, so the effort doesn’t really outweigh the problem. And no, I’m not one of those crazy people that believe we can completely heal the environment and never hurt it again. That’s like saying I flew my pet dragon into North Korea then played NBA 2k10 and had Oreos and milk with Jong-il. Okay maybe its not THAT far-fetched, but you get the point. No disrespect to the EPA, but there isn’t substantial enough proof that this is going to have an effect on mitigating whatever it is it’s trying to mitigate. Secondly, This obviously will increase the value of corn, meaning Farmer Brown’s cousin Pig Farmer Brown has to pay more for Farmer Brown’s corn to feed his pigs, so he’ll charge more for his pigs, and our resident bacon-lover pays more for his breakfast. Don’t you love how this world works. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but lets please the oil companies and stick to the status quo. You crazy corn-husking, ethanol-making, science guys.

-Jesse Anyalebechi

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Shutting Down



On March 27, 2010, the Forbidden City of Beijing has agreed to shut off all the lights. 12 billion people have agreed to participate in this event to show their awareness to the current problems within our environment. Although the event only lasted an hour, it was enough to make a significant impact not only to the world but also the people. As Lao Tzu once said “ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Now Beijing has taken the first step and it’s up to the U.S to follow. With China as our biggest competitor when it comes green-er technologies and/or efforts to reduce our carbon dioxide footprint. So it won’t be long until the United States joins China and the Forbidden city of Beijing to shut off all the lights for 1 hour. But sometimes we don’t need the government to make it official, we ourselves can start shutting our electricity off for an hour, half an hour or maybe even just 15minutes but we must first take the first step if we want others to follow.

~Phil Pham

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