Australian Study Finds That Groups Opposing Wind Farms Are The Cause Of Wind Farm Sickness.

Wind farm sickness.

Do you speak cow? The anti-wind farm lobby may need you to spread the word.

According to a study from Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, the spread of the non-illness known as wind farm sickness is via anti-wind activists and lobbyist. From the Guardian:

“[Professor Chapman’s] report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.”

Sounds like the anti-wind lobby is sending out wind farm syndrome Mary and wind farm syndrome Harry to use some magic, a little voodoo and the power of suggestion to spread the unrecognized, not-illness. Sounds about right. [Guardian]


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Volkswagen’s ‘E-Up!’ Electric Car.

Volkswagen 'E-Up!' Electric CarVolkswagen has been showing the electric ‘E-Up!’ at auto shows since 2009 and it’s now slated to be released in the US in 2014. We could say “it’s about time” or instead, we could assume that Volkswagen has used this time to perfect their new ‘E-Up!’ electric car. Here are some of its specs:

  • Range of 93 miles per full charge.
  • 80% charge in 30 minutes with quick charge option.
  • 80 hp engine hits 0-60 in 14 seconds (1970 VW bus’ish?)

I sure hope it’s the former and Volkswagen has worked out the issues with their electric vehicle. As a proud owner of a Volkswagen vehicle, I know how idiosyncratic they can be. Holding one leg out of the driver’s side window in an futile attempt to get the passenger side window to roll down is a problem. And completely ripping out the floor mounted gear shifter to get my VW out of park is also a very big problem – especially when it happens twice.

Good luck Volkswagen and we’ll see if the ‘E-Up!’ is a big hit. I do hope that the extra time VW took to release the ‘E-Up!’ was necessary to get it running error-free because if it fails, the entire electric vehicle market gets a black eye. [Wired]

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It’s Not A Painting – It’s A Picture Of A Polluted Lake In China.

Lake algae bloom caused by chemical fertilizer pollution in China.That floating stuff may look like paint but it’s lake algae that has bloomed from chemical fertilizer pollution. The Chinese government is spending $77 million to restore the lake.

Lake algae bloom caused by chemical fertilizer pollution in China.

Do you think this doesn’t happen in the US? Think again…

Algae bloom in Wisconsin's Lake Tainter

Algae bloom in Wisconsin's Lake Tainter (2010)

We’re doing some painting of our own. [RocketNews 24]

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GEOlino’s MELTDOWN Board Game: Lead A Polar Bear Family To Safety Over Actual Melting Ice.

GEOlino MELTDOWN Polar Bear Board Game.GEOlino’s MELTDOWN is a board game and the object is to save a family of polar bears before actual ice melts. Here’s a description of MELTDOWN from their website:

“The aim of the game is to take a polar bear family from the permanent ice floes to safety on the mainland. It’s a race against time, as the way leads across real, slowly melting ice floes, which children can make themselves with the accompanying mould, a bit of water and a freezer compartment. The chunks of ice are arranged on a blue polar sea sponge to form a small Arctic. The sponge is used as the game board and absorbs the melted ice at the same time. Now you can start saving polar bears.”

GEOlino MELTDOWN board game polar bearsMy take: after playing 100+ mind-numbing games of Candy Land, playing MELTDOWN would be a treat. Saving the polar bear family is a group goal in MELTDOWN so there are no winners or losers and MELTDOWN’s message about our environment is subtly delivered. What’s not to like?

Another nice feature of MELTDOWN: for parents who get stuck in the “lets play it again” loop – the melting ice is the clock and once it’s gone, you have to wait for it to re-freeze to play another game. Take that Candy Land. [MELTDOWN via Grist]


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Non-Food ‘Cellulosic’ Ethanol Could Be Price Competitive With Gasoline By 2016.

Cellulosic ethanol production.According to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), ethanol produced from non-food materials (inedible parts of plants, woods, and grasses) will be price competitive with corn-based ethanol and gasoline by 2016. It’s a second generation biofuel called cellulosic ethanol and for years, figuring out how to cost effectively produce ethanol from non-edible plants has been a challenge. From BNEF:

“The survey collected data and predictions on the production costs of 11 leading players in the cellulosic ethanol industry. All use a technique, commonly called enzymatic hydrolysis, to break down and convert the complex sugars in non-food crop matter, and a fermentation stage to turn the results into ethanol. The results showed that in 2012, the cost of cellulosic ethanol production was $0.94 per litre, around 40% higher than the $0.67 per litre cost of producing ethanol from corn, which dominates the US biofuel market and is competitive with US gasoline. By 2016, respondents thought the price of cellulosic ethanol would match that of corn-based ethanol.”

Why is the move to cellulosic biofuels so important? From BusinessGreen:

“Cellulosic biofuels are widely regarded as critical to the development of the biofuels industry, as they allow developers to produce fuels from waste material or fast-growing grasses removing the need for energy crops that have been blamed for eating into agricultural land and driving up food prices.”

Another benefit of cellulosic ethanol is that its production can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 85% over reformulated gasoline according to a study conducted by Michael Wang of the Argonne National Laboratory. Starch-based ethanol made from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18-29% over reformulated gasoline. [BusinessGreen and BNEF]

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What Would It Take To Power New York State On Only Wind, Water And Sunlight?

Wind, water and sunlight power.

“We must be ambitious if we want to promote energy independence and curb global warming,”
Study co-author Robert Howarth, Cornell University

Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, led a study to calculate what it would take to power the State of New York by 2030 with only renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight. Currently, almost all of New York’s power comes from gas, oil and coal.

Based on power demand forecasts for all industries, here’s what Professor Jacobson and his team determined would be needed:

  • 4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
  • 828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants
  • 5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 36 100-megawatt geothermal plants
  • 1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices
  • 2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines
  • 7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

Looks like a lot and it is but it’s an investment. If installed, renewable energy would be the fuel source for vehicles, home heating and all industries in the state – it would be powering everything. Check out the full article on the study and find out how the plan, if implemented, would save billions in pollution related healthcare costs and help mitigate the future costs of climate change. [EurekAlert via e360]

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