Friday, February 12, 2010
The Bluffton High School's Young Democrats Club, Young Republicans Club, and Students Making A Difference Club (SMAD) have come together to organize a committee to help BAN smoking in public restaurants and facilities. They have organized two separate petitions, one for citizens under the age of 18 and another for citizens over the age of 18. The committee has also created a commercial to help advertise this cause. Their goal is to post signs in Bluffton to gain recognition for this cause. They also plan to address the City Council on February 23 at a public meeting in the Bluffton High School cafetorium.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Are warming conditions in the Arctic unprecedented in Earth’s history? It turns out that they are not. The Earth’s climate has gone through warming and cooling times in the past as can be seen in the fossil record that shows tropical species in regions now too cool to support them.
These past variations were obviously not caused by the effects of man's activities. This does not mean that the current warming trend is not caused, or affected by anthropogenic air pollution.
There is now increased evidence that the Arctic could face seasonally ice-free conditions and much warmer temperatures in the future.
Scientists have documented evidence that the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas were too warm to support summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene warm period (3.3 to 3 million years ago). This period is characterized by warm temperatures similar to those projected for the end of this century, and is used as an analog to understand future conditions. The U.S. Geological Survey found that summer sea-surface temperatures in the Arctic were between 10 to 18°C (50 to 64°F) during the mid-Pliocene, while current temperatures are around or below 0°C (32°F).
Examining past climate conditions allows for a better understanding of how Earth's climate system really functions. USGS research on the mid-Pliocene is the most comprehensive global reconstruction for any warm period. This research will help refine climate models, which currently underestimate the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic.
Loss of sea ice could have varied and extensive consequences, such as contributions to continued Arctic warming, accelerated coastal erosion due to increased wave activity, impacts to large predators (polar bears and seals) that depend on sea ice cover, intensified mid-latitude storm tracks and increased winter precipitation in western and southern Europe, and less rainfall in the American west.
"In looking back 3 million years, we see a very different pattern of heat distribution than today with much warmer waters in the high latitudes," said USGS scientist Marci Robinson. "The lack of summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene suggests that the record-setting melting of Arctic sea ice over the past few years could be an early warning of more significant changes to come."
Global average surface temperatures during the mid-Pliocene were about 3°C (5.5°F) greater than today and within the range projected for the 21st century by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The "Job Impacts of a National Renewable Electricity Standard" study was released by the RES Alliance for Jobs and found that a 25% by 2025 national RES would support an additional 274,000 renewable energy jobs over a no-national policy option. The 25% figure is significantly higher than RES mandate in current legislation and the expected jobs supported in the current House and Senate provisions would be considerably lower.
•North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois, home to major wind resources
The study emphasizes that while tax credits continue to play a critically important role in preserving the viability of existing facilities, an RES is needed in order to support both near- and long-term investments.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Times Topics: Wind PowerTurbines, more than 100 feet tall, were installed last year in 11 Minnesota cities to provide power, and also to serve as educational symbols in a state that has mandated that a quarter of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2025.
One problem, though: The windmills, supposed to go online this winter, mostly just sat still, people in cities like North St. Paul and Chaska said, rarely if ever budging. Residents took note. Schoolchildren asked questions. Complaints accumulated. “If people see a water tower, they expect it to stand still,” said Wally Wysopal, the city manager of North St. Paul. “If there’s a turbine, they want it to turn.”
No one knows for sure why these turbines do not. Officials believe there may be several reasons, but weather is the focus of much speculation. It is not as though turbines cannot function in cold places; thousands of them work perfectly well throughout Minnesota and the Midwest, the American Wind Energy Association is quick to note. But the 12 turbines in question, each 20 years old, spent their earlier years twirling in California.
“If you were to move a car from California to Minnesota, say, you would need to change the fluids,” said Derick O. Dahlen, president of Avant Energy, which manages the windmills for the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.
Mr. Dahlen said workers were busy testing the turbines and, among other things, expected to add warming elements to gear boxes, oil and computers. In a month, he predicted, the turbines will be spinning smoothly. A possible setback: Mark Tresidder, another Avant official, said the state’s latest forecast included talk of sinking temperatures, an ice storm, maybe snow. “Given Minnesota weather,” Mr. Tresidder said, “there may be days when people can’t work out there.”
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced NOAA will set up the new Climate Service to operate in tandem with NOAA's National Weather Service and National Ocean Service. "Whether we like it or not, climate change represents a real threat," Locke said Monday at a news conference.