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Environmental concerns

Environmental news: 2009

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Media reports on the environment:

bullet2009-JAN-20: Massive ice shelf in Antartica set to collapse: A flat-topped shelf of ice is ready to collapse into the ocean at any time. It has an area of thousands of square kilometers and is held in place by a 40 kilometer (24 mile) strip of ice that is only 500 meters (1600 feet) wide at its narrowest point. In 1950, that strip was almost 100 km (60 miles) wide.
bullet2009-FEB-10: New process for manufacturing LED lights: The Centre for Gallium Nitride at Cambridge University in the UK has developed a new way of making light emitting diodes (LEDs) that would only cost about 10% of present models. The process grows crystals on silicon instead of the more expensive sapphire. They contain no mercury to cause disposal problems. Their life expectancy i about 100,000 hours. Professor Colin Humphreys, the lead scientist on the project said:

"This could well be the holy grail in terms of providing our lighting needs of the future. We are very close to achieving highly efficient, low cost LEDs that can take the place of both traditional and currently available low energy light bulbs." 2

bullet2009-APR-20: Peru: "Super Tree" device cleans pollution from atmosphere: Tierra Nuestra (Our Earth) is a company in Peru that has developed an Urban Air Cleaner (UAC)  called "Super Arbol" or "Super Tree" It is a small structure that sucks in air, combines carbon dioxide, germs, bacteria, and other pollution with water inside the device. It pumps out clean air. The device produces mud and non-potable water that can be pumped into a sewer. It cleans about 200,000 cubic meters of air daily.  A demonstration unit has been installed in Lima, Peru, where the World Health Organization claims that the average air pollution is nine times higher than allowable limits. 3,4
bullet2009-APR-29: World: " 'Extreme' rain follows global warming:" Richard P. Allan of the University of Reading, U.K. and Brian J. Soden of the University of Miami, FL reported the results of a study that reveals: "... a distinct link between rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods."

They found that satellite data revealed a greater increase in extreme rainfalls than could be accounted for by present-day computer simulations. They believe that it is crucial to find out the cause for this discrepancy quickly in order to understand global warming and its effects on the water cycle. 10

bullet2009-JUL-01: World: Animal and plant species going extinct: The International Union for Conservation of Nature reported that 869 animal and plant species have gone extinct over the past 500 years, 290 additional species are considered critically endangered and possible extinct, and 16,928 are now threatened with extinction. The latter value includes: "... nearly one-third of amphibians, more than one in eight birds and nearly a quarter of mammals." This implies that the international agreement made by most governments in 2002 to bolster biodiversity will fail to meet its 2010 goal. The authors of the study wrote that the number of extinctions is "a gross underestimate but it does provide a useful snapshot of what is happening to all forms of life on Earth." Report editor Jean-Christophe Vie said: "It's much more severe than the economic crisis or the bank crisis. You can lose a core industry but you can rebuild one. In nature, if you lose it, you lose it, and you're losing a lot of capital that cannot be replaced." 5,6
bullet2009-JUL-02: Germany: German Chancellor expects G8 agreement on 2 Cº limit: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she expects leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations to endorse a goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. 7
bullet2009-JUL-04: USA: Orthodox religious leader organizes environmental conference: His All Holiness Archbishop Bartholomew, Patriarch of Orthodox Christian Church, is organizing a world-level and interfaith symposium to examine the "moral aspects of the ecological problem" of the Mississippi River. It is titled: "Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River" It will take place on "the lower part of the Mississippi on 2009-OCT-18 to 25. Past symposia have been at the Nile Delta, Arctic, Amazon River, Baltic Sea, Adriatic Sea, Danube River, Black Sea and the Aegean. 8
bullet2009-JUL-17: World: Episcopal Church, USA adopts Earth Charter: The church adopted a resolution at its 76th General Convention that endorsed the Earth Charter. It urges its dioceses, congregations, agencies and individuals to take action consonant with the Earth Charter locally, nationally and internationally. At their previous convention they passed a resolution stating that:

"...the use of fossil fuels harms air quality and public health and is contributing to changes in the global climate that threaten the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors around the world and be it further that the convention affirmed that our Christian response to global warming is a deeply moral and spiritual issue." 9

bullet2009-SEP-25: World: Major nations support UN summit on climate change: More than 100 heads of state are expected to attend the Copenhagen summit that starts on DEC-15. Simply Green reports:
US President Barack Obama said that his government has given priority to tackling climate change. He said:

"It is true that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well."

Chinese President Hu Jintao said:

"Global climate change has a profound impact on the existence and development of mankind and is a major challenge facing all countries. ... Climate change is an environment issue, but also, and more importantly, a development issue. ... We should and can only advance efforts to address climate change in the course of development and meet the challenge through common development." 11

bullet2009-OCT-06: World: Advances in desalination plants: The U.S. Navy has developed a prototype desalination unit that uses 65% less energy than conventional technology. Simply Green reports that:
"... the EUWP (Expeditionary Unit Water Purification Program) Gen 2, ... also offers a significant secondary benefit that applies to land operations.  By providing an on-site source for potable water, it eliminates the need to run convoys of tanker trucks.  The generators that power the EUWP units still use conventional fuel, but that could change.  If they could be adapted to run cost-effectively on solar power and other sustainable energy, the door is open to desalination on a mass scale. ... Yale researchers are developing a desalination system that uses 90% less energy, a U.K. company called Seawater Greenhouse has invented a low energy distillation-based system that provides fresh water for greenhouse crops, and the discovery of stretchable salt could leader to the development of new, highly effective nanofilter systems. 12
bullet2009-OCT-14: International Solar Energy Society (ISES) Solar World Congress concludes: The congress concluded that methods of converting various sources of renewable energy to electricity -- using solar, wind, hydro and biomass techniques -- is mature enough to implement now. They noted that the sea level has risen by an average of 3.9 mm per year since 2000, mainly due to expansion of the water which in turn is caused by an increase in water temperature.

Harry Lehman, Head of Environmental Planning and Sustainable Strategies at the Federal Environment Agency of Germany predicted that Germany and the rest of Europe can be fully supplied by renewable energy by the year 2050.  Energy sources include a combination of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Photo Voltaic Cells (PV), Solar Water Heating, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass and Hydro.

A summary of a resolution passed by the Congress published a resolution states that:
bulletThe global target of 100 % renewable energies is both attainable and necessary by the middle of the current century. This is motivated on grounds of ecological, economic and social sustainability.
bulletThe world's governments are urged to implement policies to support the rapid transition to renewable energy.
bulletCommunities and people should be actively involved and benefit from directly from renewable energies.
bulletThe Congress applauds the first steps taken by the South African Government in introducing the renewable energy feed-in tariff. (REFIT) and urges the Government to speedily resolve outstanding issues and concerns.
bulletRecommending the world?s governments to establish an obligation to use renewable energy for water heating, as well as space heating and cooling.
bulletOn the international level, the introduction of a global feed-in tariff system is recommended.
bulletAll aspects of capacity building for renewable energy, including resource assessment, have to be given priority in education as well as in research and development. 13
bullet2009-OCT-24: World: International Day of Climate Action: People in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. Over 5,200 events around the world were held. People gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis. See: http://www.350.org

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Massive ice shelf set to give in 'at any minute'," The Toronto Star, 2009-JAN-20.
  2. "New Tech for LEDs could reduce Lighting Bills," Simply Green, 2009-FEB-10, at: http://www.simplygreen.co.za/
  3. Levi Novey, "Peru Uses New 'Super Tree'  Technology to Fight Air Pollution," About Technology, 2009-APR-29, at: http://ecoworldly.com/
  4. "Tierra Nuestra," has a FAQ section on its website at: http://www.tierranuestrape.org/
  5. Deborah Zabarenko, "More than 800 wildlife species now extinct," Reuters, 2009-JUL-01, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  6. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,™" International Union for Conservation of Nature, at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  7. Madeline Chambers, "Merkel sees G8 agreement on 2 degrees climate goal," Reuters, 2009-JUL-02, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  8. "Symposium VIII," Religion, Science and the Enviromnent, at:  http://www.rsesymposia.org/
  9. "Episcopal Church endorses the Earth Charter,"  The Earth Charter Initiative?, at: http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/
  10. "Extreme rain follows global warming," World Science, 2009-APR-29, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  11. "SA backs UN on climate change," Simply Green, 2009-SEP-25, at: http://www.simplygreen.co.za/
  12. "U.S. Navy Has the Solution to Rising Sea Levels, Drink It," Simply Green, 2009-OCT-06, at: http://www.simplygreen.co.za/
  13. ISES Solar World Congress 2009,: Simply Green, 2009-NOV-01, at: http://www.simplygreen.co.za/

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-JAN-20
Latest update: 2009-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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