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  1. When mainstream media covers various topics they often do so by having a “balanced” coverage – that is when the media gives equal time to both sides of a story. When it comes to climate change this usually takes the form of “debates” where a climate skeptic debates the topic with a global warming “believer”. But this balanced reporting is totally inappropriate when it comes to climate change. It only gives the viewer a false idea of the state of climate science, while reducing global warming from the complex question it really is to a simplistic debate topic about whether or not it really exists – resulting in easy answers, populist views, quick fixes and confused viewers. It’s no wonder that this makes people question global warming despite the fact that, in reality, there is no debate. The scientific support for anthropogenic climate change is massive and unquestionable. That’s why this climate segment from Last Week Tonight - John Oliver’s new show on HBO - is so great and spot-on. Oliver first explains why there really should be no climate debate, at all. He continues by demonstrating, with the help from Bill Nye the Science Guy, what an appropriate TV-debate should look like if the mainstream media followed the science behind climate change. His “statistically accurate” climate debate then pits three global warming skeptics against Bill Nye and 96 scientists. The result is simply hilarious! The science behind John Oliver’s “statistically accurate” debate comes from a study made in 2013. The study examined over 12000 peer-reviewed climate science papers and came to the conclusion that 97 percent of those papers supported the view that humans are responsible for climate change.
  2. An escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia could impact the construction of Chernobyl’s radiation shield. The gigantic $2 billion containment shield – one of the largest moveable structures ever constructed – is designed to keep the still highly unstable nuclear power plant safe from radiation leaks for approximately 100 years. The containment shield was planned to be placed above the leaking reactor by the end of next year. But the economic crisis in Ukraine, following the revolution and the ongoing conflict with Russia, could delay the construction with up to two years. The project is “ecologically vital to the region and should go on regardless of what is currently happening,” said Roksolana Stojko-Lozynskyj, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee. “It’s not only a matter of safety for Ukraine but for Europe as a whole.” The European Union has pledged to cover €250 million of the cost for the Safe Confinement project with the US pledging €182 million, Germany €60 million, the UK €53 million, Russia €15 million and Ireland €8 million. “In our financial analysis we are of course making the working assumption that [the Safe Confinement project] will not receive any money from Ukraine in the near term,” Vince Novak, director of nuclear safety at the EBRD said in a recent interview with Nuclear Engineering magazine. Ukraine was expected to contribute €45 million towards the cost of building the gigantic concrete sarcophagus over the reactor. But Ukraine is currently broke and in the middle of a conflict which could, in the worst case scenario, trigger a war with Russia. Work on the containment shield was halted earlier this month. But the new containment shield is becoming increasingly crucial as the old sarcophagus, which was hastily put in place after the nuclear accident in 1986, is deteriorating rapidly. Just last winter parts of the concrete coating on the old shield collapsed. So the containment new shield is essential to keep the region safe from further radiation leaks. “What can never be forgotten is that the destruction caused by the deadly explosion at Reactor No 4 at Chernobyl was triggered by the release of just 3% of the radioactive material in the plant; the remaining 97% of this enormous ‘ticking timebomb’ of highly unstable nuclear material is still inside the crumbling Chernobyl complex,” said Adi Roche, CEO of the humanitarian aid agency Chernobyl Children International. Roche’s organization has already been forced to suspend its life-saving cardiac surgery programme located in Kharkiv in the east of Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict. It’s estimated that around 6000 children are born with genetic heart diseases and defects in Ukraine each year. Medical experts there say these conditions are linked to radiation leaks from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. “Because the situation in Kharkiv is so tense and volatile we felt we had no option but to cancel the operations which the children and their parents had been hoping for”, said Adi Roche. “This is very tragic because there are long waiting lists for these vital life-saving operations”. The work on the containment shield resumed just a couple of days ago. But the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) describe the current timeline, with a deadline in 2015, as “ambitious.” And if the current conflict in Ukraine worsens, the new containment shield could be further delayed.
  3. The Keystone pipeline proposal has hit a Nebraska stop sign, but it has deeper problems than right-of-way issues across the United States. After all, the controversial proposal for transporting Canada's tar sands was never just about the pipeline. Just ask the thousand students who rallied in front of the White House recently and were willing to be arrested to make their point. Frustrated and angry over a lack of political action on climate change, our Millennial Generation is not tolerating an ineffectual Congress or president. This 18-34 year old group in the United States is 74 million strong and when the worst happens will suffer the most from climate change. With little representation in Congress, where the average age is 60, they are looking to civil disobedience as a strategy to create the political will to address this threat. This will happen not only in our nation's capitol but on the streets of major cities across the nation. The fight over Keystone is really about a generational shift in our energy paradigm and how we will survive the 21st century. It concerns the wealth and jobs that the fossil fuels industry creates, how it has weaved itself into all of our lives and pulled us into a formidable dependency. With a growing foreboding, however, we are sensing our carbon lifestyle may be lethal to future generations and if they are to survive it is incumbent on us to accelerate efforts to develop other energy sources. From Washington, D.C. and Nebraska courts, this conflict now swings to Canada, where the Alberta government owns 81 percent of its oil sands and has a long list of investment partners. Besides multinational corporations, one of its biggest sources of investment capital for mining is China, our planet's largest producer of greenhouse gases. Alberta looks to collect $1.2 trillion in royalties from its oil sands over the next 35 years, but has increasingly drawn the world's attention because of the massive girth of pollution from the mining and burning of bitumen tar. Canada also faces a disenfranchised youth, who feel their voices and futures have been diminished by the enormous profits bitumen tar sands portend. They are joined by First Nations aboriginal tribes who share the same political paucity and frustration. Despite the economic benefits of bitumen tar mining on their lands, First Nations people are taking a grim view of irreversible health and cultural damage. It is a seminal decision for First Nations to continue its relationship with Canadian oil interests and on a larger scale, analogous with our world's factious accord on reducing the role of fossil fuels in our lives. The world's climate scientists essentially agree that if left unchecked, anthropogenic CO2 will worsen extreme weather, raise sea levels and create mass extinctions from a profuse array of environmental changes. Many acknowledge that climate deniers are fed propagated ignorance by fossil fuel strategists as part of a misinformation campaign, creating a set of beliefs not easily changed. It creates a polarized electorate, leaving the issue to develop worst-case scenarios before action is taken. In moderation, fossil fuel usage might not have posed a serious threat, but we have moved well past that threshold. Our burning of fossil fuels produces around 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year and world energy needs are expected to rise about 40 percent over the next 20 years. CO2 has reached proportions in our atmosphere not seen for about 15 million years and many scientists warn it may already be too late to mitigate damages. There is a way forward. In time, renewables can generate jobs lost in the fossil fuels industry and will sustain our lifestyles. We can consider Generation IV nuclear energy, reportedly much safer than existing technology. Some strategists look to a carbon fee and dividend system that can increase the viability of new renewable energy sources, as well as a carbon import tax on products from other countries. As Keystone falters and tar sands mining provokes mounting protests, our nation is compelled to end political bickering and accede Millennials a more powerful voice on climate legislation. President Obama must grasp the significance of this moment, deny the Keystone permit and tell the world his decision has nothing to do with the pipeline and everything to do with leadership. This opinion piece was written by Jeffrey Meyer, a writer and volunteer for 350.org and Citizens Climate Lobby.
  4. Every year around 100 billion plastic bags are manufactured, sold and used on the European market. In 2010, there was 200 plastic bags for each person living in Europe. As one can imagine, many of these plastic bags end up as litter in nature where they pollute the environment, especially aquatic ecosystems, and harm wildlife. But this past Tuesday, the European Union moved one step closer to reduce the use of plastic bags in Europe. It was the European Parliament which voted in favor of a proposal from the European Commission to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic bags by half in 2017 and by 80 percent in 2019, compared to 2010 levels. It’s hoped that the so-called light bags, which are mainly used to wrap up loose food, will gradually be replaced by biodegradable and compostable bags by 2019 in Europe. The vote, however, was just the first reading of the bill and the future of this legislation will be decided on after the upcoming European Parliament elections at the end of May. “MEPs have today voted to significantly strengthen draft EU rules aimed at reducing plastic bag use and waste, notably to include obligatory European reduction targets and a requirement that plastic bags come at a cost,” said Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP who is a member of the Green group, shortly after the vote. “As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a coherent policy.” This reduction could be achieved by imposing taxes or fees on plastic bags, issuing advertising rules or even banning the use of plastic bags in certain shops. But it will be up to each member state to enforce their own rules and guidelines. This legislation advocates for a mandatory charging of carrier bags in the food sector and a recommendation to charge for plastic bags in the non-food sector. “The huge and growing consumption rates of plastic bags - 100 billion bags per year in the EU alone - demonstrates a reckless waste of resources. Plastic bags are a symbol of our throw-away society and unsustainable lifestyles,” said the European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik in a statement. “We use them for a few minutes, but their legacy lasts for hundreds of years, often as harmful microscopic particles that are damaging the environment worldwide, especially the marine environment. In the North Sea, the stomachs of 94 percent of all birds contain plastic,” Potocnik added.
  5. Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia, a small country located in northern Europe with a population of around 1.3 million people. The capital itself has around 400 000 inhabitants. But despite its size, the country and its capital is moving towards a cleaner and more progressive approach towards transportation. In the summer of 2012 Estonia started to work on a public charging network for electric vehicles – with an easy subscription-based payment method for its users. After building fast-charging stations in every city and larger village, Estonia became the first country to offer a nation-wide charging network for electric vehicles last year. That very same year, in 2013, Tallinn introduced free public transportation to all of its residents and thus became the European “capital of free public transport”. Today, Tallinn still holds the crown as the largest city in the world to have free public transport. The authorities in Tallinn believed that a free public transport scheme would boost economic development, encourage people to shift from cars to buses and trams and thus cut congestion and traffic emissions. Now one year on, what exactly are the results? Free public transport stopped a downward trend The public transportation system in Tallinn consists of buses, trams, trolley buses and commuter trains. Tallinn's system of about 480 public transport vehicles serves around 400 000 people, making it one of the largest systems in Europe. Public transport share was at around 40 percent before the scheme was introduced. That was even then a relatively high level compared to other European cities. The ticket costs were also fairly cheap, and pensioners and youths already benefited from free public transport in the city. Despite all this the public transport share was on the decline and had shown a negative trend for two decades. But since the introduction of the fare-free scheme there have been a 12.6 percent increase in travels. And less wealthy neighborhoods in Tallinn has seen an even bigger increase. So in spite of initial worries the scheme has clearly been successful in persuading more people to use public transportation. Strong public support One popular argument against free public transport schemes is that the quality of the service and the comfort for passengers would take a substantial hit. But according to passenger surveys people in Tallinn feel differently. For the people of Tallinn, public transportation travel has become better and more convenient since the introduction of the free-fare scheme. But the increased passenger satisfaction is also the result of investments made in new and modern buses as well as a new electrified rail line on a previously neglected link. Tallinn has also increased the service frequency and designated more priority lanes for buses in the city, which no doubt has further increased the satisfaction. The free-fare scheme in Tallinn is the result of a referendum which was held in 2012. In the referendum 75.5 percent voted for the scheme, and 24.5 percent voted against. Back then several political parties were skeptical to the idea of free public transport. Many politicians believed that it would be too expensive or simply unfeasible to accomplish. But the idea of a free-fare scheme had a strong public support, and thanks to the result in the referendum the scheme was approved. Today no one wants to abolish the scheme – that’s how successful it has been. Allan Alaküla, head of Tallinn’s European Union Office in Brussels, says there has been a “political shift” for free public transport. There is now “no party promising to abolish the free ride for Tallinners,” he says. The photo shows a tram in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo credit: Greta Tamošiunaite (cc). Economic costs and benefits The introduction of free public transportation was no hasty decision. The various costs and potential benefits had been carefully assessed and debated. Before the free-fare scheme the city's annual public transportation budget was €53 million. But revenues from ticket sales amounted to only €17 million, of which €5 million came from people living outside Tallinn. The public transport system clearly didn’t pay for its own costs. By introducing free transport in Tallinn, the city expected incur an additional cost of €12 million – which mainly represents the loss of revenue from ticket sales (tourists and people living outside Tallinn still have to pay for their tickets). City officials deemed this to be a reasonable price to pay, especially when considered against the potential environmental, economic and social benefits of such a scheme. City officials believe that the free-fare scheme has resulted in an economic boost for the local businesses in Tallinn. “We really provide an incentive for stimulation of the local economy,” says Alaküla. “We observed already that people tend to spend more if their mobility is free. They go out more in the evenings and weekends.” There has also been other, more major economic benefits. Between January and November 2013, officials reported that around 10 000 new residents had been registered in the city (the latest numbers show 15 000 new residents). This was a number which was significantly higher than previous time periods. It’s therefore presumed that the increase is mainly a result of the free-fare scheme. Each additional 1000 residents provides the city with €1 million in tax revenue. So the new tax revenues help cover a large part of the additional costs of the free-fare scheme. And with an estimated 30 000 unregistered residents in Tallinn there is a huge potential for even more tax revenues. Environmental and social benefits A fare-free public transport obviously helps improve accessibility and mobility for a city’s residents – especially for economically disadvantaged people. It’s harder, and still too early, to quantify the long-term environmental benefits of free public transport. But even here one can imagine some obvious positive results as people shift away from cars, leading to less pollution and congestion. Traffic congestion was down 15 percent during the first quarter of 2013, compared to levels at the end of 2012. Overall, car use throughout Tallinn has been reduced by 9 percent. Alongside the free-fare scheme, parking-fees in the city was increased sharply to further discourage the use of cars. It’s expected that the free-fare scheme will result in a reduction of CO2 emissions by 45 000 tons every year. Another benefit is a decrease in noise pollution when less cars are on the roads and electric public transport vehicles - trolley buses and trams – are introduced. Dedicated bus lanes also help to make the traffic move more smoothly around the city. It also has the added benefit of decreasing the average trip length by 10 percent, making people get to their destination much faster than before. After one year, free public transport has been a success in Tallinn. The free-fare scheme has stopped a downward trend for the city’s public transportation system and encouraged more people to leave their cars at home. The experiment in Tallinn has been so successful that other Estonian municipalities are now also interested in introducing similar free-fare schemes for its own residents. The results in Tallinn are also encouraging because it might help speed up plans for similar free public transportation schemes in other major cities, in Europe and around the world. Tallinn acts as a successful, full-scale real-world example that free public transport is possible and that it can have substantial social, environmental and economic benefits for a city.
  6. A big helium-filled wind-turbine will soon float just south over the city of Fairbanks in Alaska, USA. The floating wind turbine, which is designed and built by Altaeros Energies, will hover at nearly 305 meters up in the sky and generate electricity for more than a dozen families living off the grid. Airborne wind turbines is nothing new. We wrote about similar wind power technology as early as 2008 with the MARS prototype from Magenn. But this will be the first long-term demonstration of an airborne wind technology. The BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine will be in the sky for 18 months, with a total project cost of $1.3 million. Altaeros Energies hopes that BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine, and similar wind solutions, will play a role in tackling high energy costs in remote regions such as Alaska. “We are pleased to work with the Alaska Energy Authority and TDX Power to deploy our flexible, low cost power solution for remote communities,” stated Ben Glass, Altaeros Chief Executive Officer. “The project will generate enough energy to power over a dozen homes.” There are some obvious advantages with this type of wind turbines. They can be transported and setup in remote locations without the need for large cranes, towers or foundation works which are required for more traditional wind turbines. Despite its floating, kite like design, the airborne wind turbine is able to be used in harsh weather conditions. The wind turbine will also generate substantially less noise and requires very little maintenance. Besides electricity, it can also provide cell service, data coverage (i.e. Wi-Fi) and local weather data. Because of its high altitude, the BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine will be able to catch air currents that are five to eight times stronger than winds closer to the ground. It’s estimated the floating wind turbine design will generate twice the electricity output of its ground-based counterparts. The floating wind turbine will feed energy into the grid through cables that are connected to the ground.
  7. Al Jazeera English writes about Exxon Valdez and how the massive oil spill disaster still continues to haunt the people and wildlife of Alaska more than two decades later.    "When we heard on the radio that an oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, had run aground, we just knew it was bad, that everything was going to change," said the 61-year-old commercial fisherman.   For Linville himself, that meant tying up his fishing boat and joining efforts to stop the fouling of Alaska's rich southern coastal waters. The ruptured hull of the supertanker began spewing crude almost immediately after it grounded outside the port of Valdez - more than 40 million litres of sticky, toxic goo.   "They hired everyone and anyone to help clean up," said Linville. "The fishing was closed so they had to do it. We all joined in."   As the slick spread west and south along Alaska's coast, Linville and others were sent to beaches to rescue animals coated with oil. Later he helped lay floating barriers and tried to scrub oil from the shore with soap. Some crews sprayed boiling water on rocky beaches, while others used dispersants to thin the oil coating.   Read it: Exxon Valdez spill effects linger 25 years on
  8. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released their annual State of the Climate report this past Sunday, to coincide with the World Meteorological Day. The report confirms that recent extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, heat waves and tropical cyclones around the world, are linked to human-caused climate change. "There is no standstill in global warming," said WMO Secretary-General, Mr. Michel Jarraud in a statement. "Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise - as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines." The WMO report shows that 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record, and that the last three decades had been warmer than the previous one. In 2013, Australia had its hottest year on record while Argentina had its second hottest. 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth-warmest on record. The continuing long-term trend of warming and these heat records could not have been possible without "human-induced influence on climate", i.e. global warming, the report concludes: "Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change." The report also shows that during 2013 greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs, global oceans reached new record high sea levels, and Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record daily minimum. "2013 with its mixture of record warmth and extreme weather shows a now familiar mixture of natural variability and greenhouse gas induced climate change," said Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. "These annual statements document a striking long term trend, and one thing is clear: that our continuing greenhouse gas emissions are a crucial driving force in the changing climate." Other key climate events of 2013, according to the WMO report: Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines. Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, and Argentina its second warmest year and New Zealand its third warmest. Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States. Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought. Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border. Heavy rains and floods impacted northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation. Heavy rains and floods affected Sudan and Somalia. Major drought affected southern China. Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years. The widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the United States. Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe’s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. Israel, Jordan, and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall.
  9. A new nationwide poll in Poland shows that 88 percent of its citizens want their country to shift to renewables, take serious action against climate change and for their political leaders to stop blocking important EU climate action.   "The vast majority of Poles want their country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy. This is the result of a representative nationwide poll by TNS Polska in March 2014 commissioned by campaigning community Avaaz," writes Diana Maciąga over at 350.org. "This poll shows very clearly that Polish citizens want our country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy sources. Our government has to stop blocking EU climate action and we cannot allow private projects such as Elektrownia Północ, which put us on the worst possible path for our energy future."   Read it: Poles want energy transition to renewables = no new coal!
  10. Kiruna is a small town with less than 20 000 inhabitants located in the most northern parts of Sweden. It's a typical mining community, with iron ore extraction being the key industry of the area. In fact, Kiruna has been an important seat for iron ore extraction and mining industry in Sweden since the early 20th century. So it's not the typical city you would expect to introduce free public transportation for all its inhabitants. But the city of Kiruna did just that in 2011, and the results have been amazing. "The result is incredible," said Niklas Sirén, Vice Chairman of the municipal executive board in Kiruna. "We did not dare set a figure as a goal. There is a very strong car culture, it is sparsely populated here and we figured Kiruna residents are deeply rooted in their driving. We were pleasantly surprised. More people are choosing to leave their cars more often." Niklas Sirén and his local Left Party was behind the suggestion to introduce free public transportation in 2011 on a trial basis. Back then, in 2010, only 120 000 trips were made. But since free public transit was introduced, travel has tripled in Kiruna and the experiment has now become permanent. Last year more than 387 000 trips were made in Kiruna. "This has broken a downward spiral for public transport," Sirén said to ETC. "Previously, there would mostly be only empty buses. Now comes the expectation of more rides and lines. The next step is to expand public transport." But it's not completely free. To be able to use the service, Kiruna residents need to pay 100 SEK, around $14, for a buss card each year. The free public transport does not apply to tourists and other temporary visitors whom instead need to buy tickets to be able to travel. But the card is also available for asylum seekers, and students that lives outside the municipal. For Kiruna, the free public transportation costs around 3.3 million SEK per year.
  11. A dozen of Greenpeace activists sneaked into France's oldest nuclear power plant earlier this morning in an effort to highlight security weaknesses at nuclear facilities in Europe. All in all, about 60 Greenpeace activists from 14 different countries participated in today's protest at the Fessenheim nuclear plant - the oldest in France. The protest started early at dawn this Tuesday when several activists sneaked inside the premises of the nuclear power plant to hang anti-nuclear banners from a building next to one of the plant's reactors. A couple of activists even managed to climb on top of the reactor number 1's roof where they unfurled banners with the message "Stop Risking Europe". The rest of the activists stayed outside the plant, blocking its entrance with barrels and demanding the shutdown of the plant. "The Fessenheim plant is a symbol," Greenpeace activist Cyrille Cormier said. "Its planned closure must be the beginning of a series of plant closures in Europe to limit the accidental and financial risks linked to ageing (plants) and to start the energy transition." The Fessenheim nuclear plant, which is France's oldest and considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding, is located in north-eastern Europe, only 1,5 km from Germany in the third most densely populated region in Metropolitan France and in the centre of the so-called European Backbone. The nuclear plant is situated on the banks of the Rhine, one of Europe's largest rivers that runs through three different countries. So if an accident were to happen at the nuclear plant, it wouldn't just be France who would be affected. France's President François Hollande has said that he wants to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. Hollande has earlier promised to shut Fessenheim down by 2016. But despite this, there are currently discussions in France about extending the lifetime of several nuclear plants beyond their 40 years. "We’re demanding Mr Hollande keep his promise by limiting maximum reactor lifetimes to 40 years by law and ensuring more nuclear plants are shut down," Greenpeace said in a statement. "With climate change upon us it should really go without saying that Europe needs a real energy transition based on renewable energy. This needs to happen fast." A spokesman from EDF, the plant's operator, said in a statement that further precautionary measures has been taken. "There has been no impact on the security of the plant, which continues to function normally," the EDF spokesman said. Following today's protest, Ecology Minister Philippe Martin said he would "ask operators to reinforce the physical protection of the most sensitive zones in their nuclear facilities."
  12. Results from a study done by a research group at the Skövde University in Sweden might surprise cyclists. Their research project, named Urbanist 2, have looked at how well reflexes helps motorists’ spot cyclists in the dark. Their conclusion is that it is dangerous to rely on the bright, and among cyclists, popular reflective vests. “What we have seen in our research is such that the reflective vest provides a false sense of security at night, when it in no way helps the motorist to interpret the rider's movement information,” said Paul Hemeren, PhD in Cognitive Science at the University of Skövde. Instead, their findings show, it’s more important where on your body those reflexes are located. The best placements are on the head, arms, feet, and other body parts that are moving when you’re cycling. “If you place a reflective stripe on the back of the helmet, which continues in a vertical line down the back, you create a line that breaks when the rider turns his or hers head,” Hemeren said. “This shows [for the motorist] that it’s a high probability that the cyclist will turn. And if reflexes are also placed on other body joints you will reach an even better result.” If the reflexes are placed like this, it reinforces a riders unconscious patterns of movement and in turn makes it easier for the motorist to make an accurate assessment of the cyclist’s intentions – in up to 97 percent of the cases. Without it, the study finds that the motorists could only make a correct assessment in little over 70 percent of the cases. Obviously one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from only one study, but apparently, those reflective safety vests used by many cyclists might not do much to protect the wearer – at least if the wearer is on a bike.
  13. Our members regularly publish good and interesting blog posts here in our community. And we often feature some of the best posts. Featured blog posts gets highly visible on both the Green Blog frontpage and the Community Blogs page, as well as next to all our regular environment news. Simply put: if your blog post gets featured it will be seen by a lot of people. We tend to feature posts that are topical, interesting and thought-provoking. Here are some friendly tips on how you can make your post even better, and more likely to get featured: We cannot stress this enough. References are important! Add links to news sites, Wikipedia entries, blog posts, etc., that supports the claims you make in your blog post. Everyone likes photos! So add an Entry image on your next blog post. You can also upload and add individual images as well as photo albums to your blog post using our Green Blog Gallery. Label you post with a category and tags, tags, and more tags! Different categories for your posts are also useful. While you can use several tags that are relevant to your blog post's content, we recommend you to only use one category per post. Good luck and maybe we'll feature your blog post next time! :)
  14. Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and published by the Huffington Post and the Danish newspaper Information, shows that the NSA spied on the talks at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009.   "The Obama administration clearly never wanted Copenhagen talks to work," says Bill McKibben following latest NSA revelations concerning climate talks.   Read it: 'Insane, Disgusting' and 'Epic Treachery': NSA Spied on Climate Talks
  15. Ska Keller, from Germany, and José Bové, from France, have been selected to lead the European Green Party in their upcoming European campaign. After closing the polls yesterday, the election result was presented at a press conference earlier this morning. "I’m looking forward to an enthusiastic election campaign, for the whole of the European Union," Ska Keller said during today's press conference. "It will be our task as top candidates to bring a European dimension to the national Green campaigns." "In our campaign, we Greens will be clear about what our Green alternatives are for Europe: a fair and Green way out of the crisis, putting youth unemployment on the top of the agenda, protecting the rights of refugees and migrants, fair trade not free trade, more ambitious climate targets, and more democracy," Keller said. The European Green Party, which is a transnational political party consisting of 40 green parties from throughout the European Union, asked people whom shared their "values" to choose their party's two green leading candidates for the upcoming European Elections, which are held between 22 and 25 May later this year. This was the first ever Europe-wide online election for a parliamentary group in the European parliament. But the election had quite a low voter turnout with only 22,676 people participating. It's therefore doubtful that the result is representative for the members of the green parties in Europe.
  16. The 'polar vortex' and severe cold weather don't mean climate change isn't happening, writes Yarrow Axford.   "Climate change is a painstakingly well-documented long-term global trend, in which each recent decade has been warmer than the decade before. This is generally true for most parts of the globe, but more importantly is true when one considers the Earth as a whole. [...] Despite the overwhelming evidence that our planet is warming, there are two points of perpetual confusion that combine with our psychology to make winter weather a seasonal boon for climate skepticism. For one, a cold snap where we live should not be confused for a global event."   Read it: No, Global Warming Isn't Suddenly a Myth Because It's Really Cold Out
  17. Athletes are getting ready for a warm, soggy Winter Games in >Sochi. But thanks to global warming, that could soon be the norm for the Winter Olympics. by mid-century, close to half of the previous host cities could likely be too warm for outdoor sports like Alpine skiing and snowboarding. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the average February daily high temperature in host cities was just 0.4 C, a figure that had risen to 7.8 C between 2000 and 2010.   Read it: Climate Change Could Melt the Winter Olympics
  18. Russian courts sentence Evgeny Vitishko, an environmentalist and critic of the Sochi Olympics construction projects, to three years in prison less than a month before the Olympics.   A court in the southern region of Krasnodar — where the Sochi Winter Olympics open next month — sentenced environmentalist Evgeny Vitishko to three years in a penal colony. A geologist and member of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus, Vitishko is an outspoken critic of construction for Sochi, a massive development project that comes not only with the heftiest Olympic price tag to date — a staggering $51 billion — but also, according to some critics, the unflattering label of most damaging to the environment.   Read it: Russia cracks down on green activism ahead of Sochi Olympics
  19. Cnn cold crossfire

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  20. Tesla Motors, the electric car startup company, recently unveiled their new Model S car in Los Angeles. The electric prototype car will cost $49,900, after a $7,500 tax credit and will be available for purchase in late 2011. View the full article
  21. 30 Greenpeace activists, who had been part of a peaceful protest against energy giant Gazprom, are currently being held at gunpoint by Russian security officers who stormed the group's ship on international waters. Russian officials and representatives from Gazprom have accused the activists of participating in terrorism. Greenpeace dismisses these accusations and says the boarding by Russian security forces was illegal because their ship was circling Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya platform inside international waters and outside the jurisdiction of Russian authorities. The illegal boarding of the Greenpeace ship, named Arctic Sunrise, comes only a day after two other Greenpeace activists were arrested as they protested Arctic oil drilling on the Gazprom platform, Prirazlomnaya, in the Pechora Sea off the Russian coast. They were held overnight without charges or legal representation aboard a Russian Coast Guard vessel. It's been nearly 24 hours since the boarding of the Arctic Sunrise and there have been no official response from Russian authorities regarding the action. Greenpeace International has not received any formal confirmation of possible charges, and the activists have been denied access to legal or consular assistance. "The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout," said Arctic campaigner Ben Ayliffe. "The real threat to the Russian Arctic comes not from the crew of the Arctic Sunrise but from Gazprom, one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today." Greenpeace has organized protests at Russian embassies on 20 locations around the world today in support of the arrested Greenpeace activists. Greenpeace demands the immediate release of their activists and an end to Arctic drilling.
  22. Russia's Federal Security Service has announced that they've seized the Arctic Sunrise and its crew following a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters. The Greenpeace ship has now been towed to port in Murmansk where an investigation will be conducted. A Russian official have said that the Greenpeace activists, totaling 27 or 30 depending on source, could face piracy charges. Greenpeace strongly rejects these allegations and describes them as a desperate attempt to justify the illegal boarding of their ship in international waters. "The suggestion that Greenpeace engaged in piracy this week smacks of real desperation," said Greenpeace International's General Counsel Jasper Teulings. "The activists climbed Gazprom's Arctic oil platform for a completely safe and peaceful protest against dangerous drilling, carrying only banners and rope. Piracy laws do not apply to safe and peaceful protests." "Over a day after our protest the Russian Coast guard boarded our ship outside of territorial waters, where there is right of free passage, with no legal justification whatsoever," Teulings added. "This looks like a retrospective attempt to create that justification and avoid embarrassment." Greenpeace organized protests outside Russian embassies on 20 locations around the world today following the boarding. They have also called on people to contact Russian embassies and demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew. So far about 400 000 letters have been sent. "We will contest these allegations strongly and we continue to demand the release of our activists and the ship," Teulings said.
  23. It's been more than 48 hours since armed Russian security officers boarded the Arctic Sunrise and arrested around 30 Greenpeace activists following a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters. Details are still sketchy but the Greenpeace ship is apparently now being towed by the Russian coastguard to the nearest harbor with the ship's crew being held onboard at gunpoint. "They used violence against some of us, they were hitting people, kicking people down, pushing people," said Faiza Oulahsen in a phone call from the ship before communications were cut. Russian officials have accused Greenpeace of "aggressive and provocative" behavior during the oil drilling protest earlier this week. Liliya Moroz, a representative of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the Murmansk region, has said to local media that the activists could now face terrorism or piracy charges. If charged with terrorism the activists could face a minimum of 10 years in prison. Greenpeace have been unable to make contact with their activists onboard the Arctic Sunrise and they have not yet received no official confirmation from Russian security services. "This is the clear detention of people against their will," said Vladimir Chuprov, head of the energy department at Greenpeace Russia. "Terrorism is a very serious crime." FSB has said that they've been co-ordinating actions with the Russian foreign ministry and energy giant Gazprom "to protect the safety of the crew on the platform and defend the interests of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region." But Greenpeace says these accusations are dishonest because the "unidentified object" was their safety pod, and it was brightly coloured and branded with the environmental organization's famous logo. Greenpeace have also said that the boarding was illegal because their ship was on international waters and outside the jurisdiction of Russian authorities. Jasper Teulings, a Greenpeace lawyer told Reuters that "the only reason the ship can be boarded inside the EEZ, (exclusive economic zone) is when there is suspected breach of fisheries regulation or suspected substantial discharge in violation of environmental regulation. Neither is the case. Other grounds could be piracy or slavery, so it's clear that none of these apply." Teulings also stressed that "the situation at the moment is actually unclear," and that we don't know yet whether the Greenpeace ship have been seized. "We would be surprised if it had been [seized], because that would have been illegal," Teulings said. "We do know that the ship is being held by the coastguard, and we are taking every step in our power at this moment, including international diplomacy, to ensure the swift release of the activists and we are in touch with their families."
  24. Green Web Hosting Alternatives

    It takes a lot of energy to power and maintain servers for a web host. Therefore one of the most important things you as a blogger or webmaster can do is to choose a green web host. With green web hosts I mean hosting companies that power their servers with renewable energy such as wind and solar power. Some of these green web hosts generate their own energy via renewable energy sources. Other web hosts offers carbon offsetting, discounts to non profits, letting their employees telecommute, etc. Please check out our Green Web Host page for a more up-to-date list on Green Web Hosting Alternatives. WebCtel - Solar powered hosting SolarWebWorks - Solar powered hosting EcoSky - Both wind and solar powered hosting The Green Web Host - Mostly wind but other energy sources too Locomotive Media - Wind powered hosting Elfon - Wind powered hosting SustainableMarketing - Wind powered hosting Aiso - Solar powered hosting Dreamhost - Insure that the power they use is generated in an ecofriendly manner. This is typically wind or solar, but it could also be biogas or geothermal. Acorn Host - Sustainable growth, Non-profit discounts and purchases Green Certificates. Green-blog.org uses Acorn host and we are so far very happy with the service. Green WebHost - Solar powered, paperless and will also plant a tree on your behalf. Athenaeum - Solar powered hosting Ilisys - Solar and wind powered hosting. Will also plant a tree on your behalf. So which host should you choose then? Which is the best? I am sorry but I can’t tell you which host is the best because I haven’t tested all of them. You should always do a background check on any host you are interested in. See if they got some testimonials from customers. But any of these web hosts are better than your current one that isn’t doing anything at all to prevent global warming.
  25. In the article, Cameron writes that he wants to see fracking in all parts of Britain - and not just in the less populated areas in the north. "It's been suggested in recent weeks that we want fracking to be confined to certain parts of Britain. This is wrong," he said. "I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together." Fracking is a controversial method of extracting gas. The word fracking comes from its technique, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas. The British Geological Survey has estimated that there could be around 1300 trillion cubic feet of gas in northern England alone. Cameron claims that only 10% of that is the equivalent of 51 years' worth of gas supply. Besides cheaper gas and energy bills for the British people, Cameron also promises that fracking will bring money to local neighborhoods and create new jobs in a struggling economy. He estimates that around 74 000 news jobs, in and around the gas sector, could be created. "If neighborhoods can see the benefits - and are reassured about its effects on the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't receive real public support," Cameron said. "The Prime Minister's claim that UK shale gas will reduce energy prices doesn't stack," Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Leila Deen said in a response Cameron's pro-fracking comments. "Experts from Ofgem to Deutsche Bank to drilling company Cuadrilla itself agree UK shale will not bring down bills, because unlike the US, the UK is part of a huge European gas market," she said. "The government must come clean about where its getting its advice from, and the role shale gas lobbyists are playing in it." Fracking will bring potential dangers to the local environment, the climate and people's health. Fracking is a fossil fuel which production creates greenhouse gas emissions. It's no more different than coal and more conventional gas - in fact, its carbon footprint could even be worse than coal. Considering all the chemicals involved in the fracking process and the numerous reports of gas leaking into people's water supply, fracking could also become a real threat to people's health. In the US, at least eight states have reported surface, ground, and drinking water contamination due to fracking. In Pennsylvania alone, over 1,400 environmental violations have been attributed to deep gas wells utilizing fracking practices. Fracking will also bring pollution from truck traffic, chemical contamination around storage tanks, and habitat fragmentation and damage from drilling in environmentally sensitive. But Cameron claims that fracking is safe for both the public and the environment. "There is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies or other environmental damage," Cameron said. At least if it's "properly regulated." And if "any shale gas well were to pose a risk of pollution, then we have all the powers we need to close it down," Cameron promises. "Our countryside is one of the most precious things we have in Britain and I am proud to represent a rural constituency. I would never sanction something that might ruin our landscapes and scenery." But, Cameron added, "the huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor change to the landscape." If Cameron gets what he wants, which is thousands of shale gas pads scattered across Britain, he will just lock Britain into another form of fossil fuel addiction for another generation. And we cannot afford that. We need truly green and renewable energy sources.