Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones

Stanford News
December 10, 2007


Courtesy Nature Nanotechnology silicon nanowires

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices.

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers.

"It's not a small improvement," Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development."

The breakthrough is described in a paper, "High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires," published online Dec. 16 in Nature Nanotechnology, written by Cui, his graduate chemistry student Candace Chan and five others.

The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.

"Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly," Cui said.

The electrical storage capacity of a Li-ion battery is limited by how much lithium can be held in the battery's anode, which is typically made of carbon. Silicon has a much higher capacity than carbon, but also has a drawback.

Silicon placed in a battery swells as it absorbs positively charged lithium atoms during charging, then shrinks during use (i.e., when playing your iPod) as the lithium is drawn out of the silicon. This expand/shrink cycle typically causes the silicon (often in the form of particles or a thin film) to pulverize, degrading the performance of the battery.

Cui's battery gets around this problem with nanotechnology. The lithium is stored in a forest of tiny silicon nanowires, each with a diameter one-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper. The nanowires inflate four times their normal size as they soak up lithium. But, unlike other silicon shapes, they do not fracture.

Research on silicon in batteries began three decades ago. Chan explained: "The people kind of gave up on it because the capacity wasn't high enough and the cycle life wasn't good enough. And it was just because of the shape they were using. It was just too big, and they couldn't undergo the volume changes."

Then, along came silicon nanowires. "We just kind of put them together," Chan said.

For their experiments, Chan grew the nanowires on a stainless steel substrate, providing an excellent electrical connection. "It was a fantastic moment when Candace told me it was working," Cui said.

Cui said that a patent application has been filed. He is considering formation of a company or an agreement with a battery manufacturer. Manufacturing the nanowire batteries would require "one or two different steps, but the process can certainly be scaled up," he added. "It's a well understood process."

Also contributing to the paper in Nature Nanotechnology were Halin Peng and Robert A. Huggins of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford, Gao Liu of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Kevin McIlwrath and Xiao Feng Zhang of the electron microscope division of Hitachi High Technologies in Pleasanton, Calif.

Friday, December 28, 2007

E.P.A. to Comply in Waiver Inquiry

NY Times
December 28, 2007


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency signaled Thursday that it was prepared to comply with a Congressional request for all documents, including communications with the White House, concerning its decision to block California from imposing limits on heat-trapping gases.

The agency’s general counsel directed employees in a memorandum to preserve and produce all documents related to the decision, including any opposing views and communications between senior agency officials and the White House.

The memorandum was in response to Congressional inquiries, said an agency spokeswoman, Jennifer Wood.

Last week, the agency administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, rejected California’s request to put into effect rules on tailpipe emissions of heat-trapping greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide. As many as 16 states would have been free to do likewise if California had received approval.

Mr. Johnson said that a new federal automobile fuel economy requirement achieved what California wanted to accomplish.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, both led by Californians, have demanded the documents.

The memorandum to agency employees was made public by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The difficulty of getting riders into the pool

Changing the status quo is going to take some prodding to
convince employers and their commuters of the benefits.

By TUX TURKEL, Staff Writer
December 23, 2007

Most Mainers rely on their cars to get to work. The dependence
is straining personal budgets, roads and the environment.

Things might be different, if half of all workers drove a distance
to an island connected by only one bridge.

That's the situation facing Hancock County's largest employer,
The Jackson Laboratory. It's why the lab now spends $50,000 a
year to subsidize commuter bus service to Bar Harbor, and
offers preferential parking to car poolers.

Even so, fewer than 15 percent of the lab's 1,250 employees
take advantage of the programs.

Maybe that will change, with new expanded bus service and
gasoline staying above $3 a gallon. But the lab's efforts to
promote alternative transportation suggest the challenges facing
an initiative announced last month byGov. John Baldacci.

Responding to high gasoline and heating costs, the governor set
up an energy emergency management plan that includes efforts
to get more Maine commuters out of their cars and trucks.
Baldacci also asked his cabinet to seek ways to adjust the
schedules of more than 12,000 state workers, to allow more
telecommuting, ride sharing and van pooling. He made a similar
pitch to business, starting with board members at the Maine
State Chamber of Commerce.

But it's going to take more than some prodding from the
governor to change the status quo. While some Maine employers
actively support alternative transportation, most have yet to
exploit the potential benefits, or do more than study and discuss
the issue.

Employers that embrace alternative transportation can, for
instance, save money on parking spaces and tap in to a larger
labor pool. But they'll have to overcome obstacles that include
the American love affair with auto travel, committing resources
to promoting alternatives and making adjustments in corporate

"More businesses need to be doing this because getting to work
is a huge issue for their employees," said Sue Moreau, a policy
specialist at the Maine Department of Transportation.

Interest in alternatives is growing, Moreau said, based on public
response over the past five weeks to free rides on local bus
lines. Ridership during Free Fare Friday, which ends this week, is
up 25 percent statewide over the same time last year. Riders
increased by 45 percent in Biddeford-Saco and 20 percent in

Moreau is anxious to see if ridership stays up this winter, after
the free promotions end. In the meantime, she's encouraging
companies to consider how both they and their workers can
benefit from reducing car use.

"Employees need to investigate what the options are," she said,
"and the state is ready to help them do that."

One way the state helps is through its Go Maine commuter
services program.


Go Maine matches workers and companies online with car and
van pool connections. It currently has 950 employers registered
with the program, with 397 active car pools.

Go Maine also manages a fleet of 13 vans carrying more than
150 workers daily. Seven operate from Portland to Augusta;
others connect with the capital from Lewiston-Auburn, Topsham
and Bangor. Go Maine has identified 15 more promising van
routes. Private vans listed with Go Maine also carry workers to
Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

One worker taking advance of the state-sponsored van is Tim

Leavitt had been driving from Augusta to his job on the Portland
waterfront for nearly 10 years. Earlier this year, Leavitt figures,
gasoline alone was costing nearly $70 a month, not including
turnpike tolls and maintenance.

Leavitt was lucky. He discovered the state was expanding the
commuter vans, organizing service from Augusta to Portland.

He's now one of nine riders who makes the daily trip, paying
$135 a month. Leavitt estimates he's saving roughly $150 a
month, compared to driving alone at current gasoline prices.

Leavitt, who works at Graybar Electric Co. on Commercial Street,
meets the van in Augusta at 6:30 a.m.

The van stops at the Maine Turnpike commuter parking lot in
Gardiner and arrives at Leavitt's workplace around 7:50 a.m. In
the afternoon, he meets the driver, who works nearby at Barber
Foods, at 4:30.

Leavitt and his company had to make some adjustments to
accommodate the van. Graybar's work day begins at 7:30 a.m.,
so Leavitt cut his lunch break to a half-hour. His manager has
been supportive of this arrangement, he said.

Many companies are supportive, when they understand the
benefits of ride sharing and van pools on their operations, said
Carey Kish, Go Maine's program manager. Companies that
support alternative transportation can draw from a larger labor
pool, he said.

People who live far from a job are more willing to take it or keep
it, if they can cut the cost of commuting. Rideshare workers also
are more likely to be on time and miss less work, because they
stick to predictable schedules.

Kish visits companies around Maine and talks to human
resources managers about the benefits of alternative
transportation. He has the most success when he can identify
someone with a personal stake in the issue.

"Finding a champion is important," he said. "You need a
champion, you need an employee to light the fire."


That spark is harder to generate at larger companies.

L.L. Bean has 4,000 year-round workers in Maine; two-thirds of
them work in Freeport. Aside from some informal ride sharing,
Bean has no sponsored vans or ride sharing. Years ago it had
reserved parking spaces for car pools, but they weren't well used
and reverted to open parking.

That may change next year, according to John Oliver, Bean's vice
president for public affairs, as part of a larger plan to reduce
Bean's impact on climate change.

"We know employee commuting is one area we can have an
impact on," he said.

Perhaps the best way to reduce the impact of commuting is to
stay home.

High-speed Internet connections make it possible for more
people to work away from their job sites. A 2006 study by the
Telework Coalition, which promotes telecommuting, identified
benefits ranging from reduced real estate costs to higher rates
of worker satisfaction. Telecommuting policies also allowed
many employees to stay on the job after Hurricane Katrina and
the World Trade Center attacks, the study found.

In Maine, state agencies have a written policy for setting up
telecommuting arrangements with employees. Issues include
home workplace ergonomics, confidentiality and how to assess

L.L. Bean has been considering whether customer service
representatives could work from home, Oliver said. But concerns
about meeting satisfaction standards and protecting customer
privacy have stalled that plan for now.

Telecommuting also has failed to gain much traction at The
Jackson Laboratory. The culture at the world-class genetics lab
encourages personal interaction among the researchers,
according to Chuck Hewett, the chief operating officer.

"We need our people to be here," he said.

But the lab is doing more than most Maine companies to get its
people to work without cars.

Bar Harbor's high housing costs contribute to the fact that
roughly half the lab's workers live off Mount Desert Island. Some
commute an hour or more, from Washington and Penobscot

The lab recently boosted its subsidy for commuter buses
operated by Downeast Transportation to $50,000 a year. Aided
by federal money, the increase supports four weekday trips
between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor, and has actually lowered
fares on other routes.

It's a great deal for the 138 regular riders; the weekly fare from
Bangor and Cherryfield dropped from $27 to $17.50.

This subsidy makes financial sense for The Jackson Laboratory.

Hewett figures that, including workers who leave their cars at
home for ride sharing, the programs remove up to 150 cars a
day from company parking lots. The cost of developing a new
asphalt parking space in Bar Harbor is more than $6,000, he
estimated, so the investment represents a big savings.

Hewett hopes the newly expanded bus service may add riders.
Gasoline prices appear to be the wild card, though; they may do
as much as anything business can do to motivate workers to
leave their cars at home. The faster gas go up, Hewett
observed, the more people choose alternatives.

"When we see a spike in prices is when we see the changes," he

Staff writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

Copyright © 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers

A Threat So Big, Academics Try Collaboration

NY Times
December 25, 2007


It is a basic tenet of university research: Economists conduct joint studies, chemists join forces in the laboratory, political scientists share ideas about other cultures — but rarely do the researchers cross disciplinary lines.

The political landscape of academia, combined with the fight for grant money, has always fostered competition far more than collaboration.

But the threat of global warming may just change all that.

Take what’s happening at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In September the school established the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, aimed at getting students and professors from different disciplines to collaborate in studying the environmental ramifications of production and consumption.

“The academic tradition is to let one discipline dominate new programs,” said Nabil Nasr, the institute’s director. “But the problem of sustainability cuts across economics, social elements, engineering, everything. It simply cannot be solved by one discipline, or even by coupling two disciplines.”

Neil Hawkins, Dow Chemical’s vice president for sustainability, sees it that way, too. Thus, Dow is giving $10 million, spread over five years, to the University of California, Berkeley, to set up a sustainability center.

“Berkeley has one of the strongest chemical engineering schools in the world, but it will be the M.B.A.’s who understand areas like microfinance solutions to drinking water problems,” Mr. Hawkins said.

That realization is spreading throughout academia. So more universities are setting up stand-alone centers that offer neutral ground on which engineering students can work on alternative fuels while business students calculate the economics of those fuels and political science majors figure how to make the fuels palatable to governments in both developing nations and America’s states.

“We give professors a chance to step beyond their usual areas of expertise, and we give students exposure to the worlds of science and business,” said Daniel C. Esty, director of the year-old Yale Center for Business and the Environment, a joint effort between the School of Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Similar setups are getting easier to find. Last year, the University of Tennessee consolidated all of its environmental research programs under a new Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment. Arizona State University did the same in 2004, when it inaugurated its Global Institute of Sustainability.

The Arizona institute reports directly to the university president and is run by Jonathan Fink, who is also the university’s sustainability officer.

“We want all the departments to contribute without thinking they own the initiative themselves,” Mr. Fink said. Already, experts in biogeochemistry — the study of the scientific underpinnings of earth’s origins and existing biosystems — are working with social scientists to study the impact of rapid urbanization on plants and animals.

It is impossible to quantify the growth of stand-alone centers. There is no naming convention — some are sustainability centers, some are environmental institutes and some are global warming initiatives. And many do not stand alone at all, but are neatly tucked inside an existing school.

For example, in 2003 the University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering dedicated the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative, which studies green construction and sustainable water use.

Nor do the environmentally themed names necessarily convey an enviro-centric agenda. Many sustainability centers — the Kenan-Flagler Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina is a good example — address global cultures, business ethics and corporate social responsibility along with environmental issues.

The Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education compiled a list of more than 600 academic centers that, at first blush, sound as if they would be stand-alone environmental facilities. Rich Leimsider, its director, figures only a handful really are.

“We are seeing more centers framed as sustainability, but they may not be qualitatively different from the ethics, innovation or globalization centers of 15 years ago,” he said. “Universities realize that you can discuss sustainability with a C.E.O. and not get laughed out of the room.”

But Mr. Leimsider said he does see more stand-alone centers that are devoted primarily to analyzing environmental problems, influencing environmental policy and preparing students to think collaboratively when they try to solve those problems outside the academic world.

Many of the centers have one foot set squarely outside the ivory tower. Mr. Esty said the Yale center was developing an “eco-services clinic” that would help companies address various environmental issues. Duke’s Corporate Sustainability Initiative, which is a joint venture of its earth sciences, business and environmental policy schools, is also a founding member of the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance. Its faculty and students have already developed a small wind turbine for private use, and have helped local businesses reduce their carbon footprints.

Nor does the money for the centers necessarily come from university coffers. Often, it comes from individuals who are passionate about the environment.

More than 10 years ago, Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb gave $5 million to the University of Michigan to found the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. They have given an additional $15 million since.

Thomas P. Lyon, the institute’s director, said much of the money goes to defray third-year costs for graduate students who pursue a dual degree in business and natural sciences. But the institute is now talking to venture capitalists about teaching students to invest in green technologies, and is setting up projects for students in China and elsewhere. It also gives small research grants to professors who affiliate with the institute; most recently, it awarded money for a study of botanical gardens.

“We provide a community where students and professors can discuss research with different disciplines,” Mr. Lyon said.

Similarly, Julie A. Wrigley, who has a home in Arizona, provided $15 million for Arizona State’s institute, and this year gave an additional $10 million to create a degree-granting School of Sustainability within the institute.

The vast majority of the money for the Golisano Institute in Rochester came from B. Thomas Golisano, the founder of Paychex and one of the underwriters of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Mr. Golisano, who donated $10 million, said he expected the institute to “produce the first generation of professionals with the vision and know-how to deliver on the promise of sustainability.” Indeed, Mr. Nasr said the institute already offers courses on sustainability to all freshman and is asking students to submit ideas for projects.

Sometimes, government chips in. Mr. Fink notes that Phoenix is “the poster child” for the so-called urban heat island effect — the phenomenon in which big cities absorb heat during the day and release it at night, causing temperatures to rise. So his institute has amassed funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Arizona and some local businesses for a project to see if certain construction materials can alleviate the problem.

Companies are getting into the financing act as well. Unlike traditional partnerships between business and academia, in which companies that provide funds have the right to commercialize any breakthroughs, most of these funds come with no strings attached.

Several years ago Enterprise Rent-a-Car donated $10 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis for research on growing crops for food. This year it gave $25 million to create the Enterprise Institute in conjunction with Danforth, to do research into biobased fuels.

“Danforth understands cellulosic research, so they are best positioned to figure out how to make fuel from soy and corn,” said Patrick T. Farrell, vice president for corporate responsibility at Enterprise.

Four companies — ExxonMobil, General Electric, Schlumberger and Toyota — have anted up for the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project, which explores new energy technologies. The Shell Oil Foundation has been financing Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability since 2002. Wal-Mart has promised money for an Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas.

Berkeley, meanwhile, is using Dow’s gift to set up a Sustainable Products and Solutions Program within its existing Center for Responsible Business. That is in the Haas Business School, but Kellie A. McElhaney, the center’s director, insists the program will draw on Berkeley’s chemists, biologists, financial analysts, policy specialists, even lawyers.

The program is now taking applications for grants from Berkeley students and professors who want to conduct collaborative research into topics like providing clean drinking water or more efficient fuels. And Ms. McElhaney said other companies have expressed willingness to kick in funds.

“Commercialization takes forever if the chemical engineers and the business types do not coordinate,” she said. “So think how much easier it will be for chemistry graduates to work inside a company if they already know how to interact with the business side.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

See at a glance where the presidential contenders stand on climate and energy issues

For anyone seeking to find out where the various candidates stand on environmental issues, then look no further than Grist. They have put together easy to follow and understand comparisons of the various candidate viewpoints on the environment and energy.


As the World Warms

NY Times
December 23, 2007



Delegates to the recent United Nations climate talks in Bali decided they needed two years to formulate a plan for making “deep cuts in global emissions.” The earth’s changing climate seems unlikely to wait. The Op-Ed page asked four writers to report on the weather in their part of the world. Here are their dispatches.

The Olive Tree Doesn’t Lie


IT is a little weird to be getting briefed on the state of the world’s climate by an olive tree. And yet the Olea europaea has been telling it straight since long before ancient reporters scratched dispatches onto pounded bark. Watching my gnarled old Mediterranean tree season by season, I see the bad news fast getting worse. Our future food supply is at risk, olives and most everything else besides.

Some insist that scientific ingenuity will provide. Agribusiness touts miracle seeds and new techniques. Others find comfort in broad numbers, yearly precipitation figures and mean temperatures that have yet to plummet. Yet most food we eat relies on rainfall cycles and defined seasons. The point is not how much rain falls but when. And annual temperature averages hide a new reality: the patterns of hot and cold are changing.

My own farm typifies what I now see from Kalamata to California. I call the place Wild Olives because I bought it as an overgrown ruin that looked more like Angkor Wat than Provence. As we dug it out, a wayward bulldozer toppled a centuries-old tree near the front door. To the stalwart olive, it was merely root-pruning. It roared back, stronger than ever.

The routines around here go back to ancient Romans who planted our back hills with olive shoots in their baggage. Late each winter, the trees are cut back hard. In spring, buds cover the new wood. By fall, branches droop under the weight of green fruit. As they turn purplish black in December, the olives are pressed into oil to remember.

It is December now, and my trees should be heavy with olives. But they’re not. Like last year, rains fell at the wrong time, too hard or too soft. When it mattered, there was no rain at all.

A warming trend with freak cold snaps confuses plant metabolism and emboldens killer pests. Last January, my trees budded, convinced it was spring. Then it froze. In June, the Dacus fly bore into the fruit, causing it to drop off the tree.

Many olive growers are somewhere between disbelief and denial. In an old Tuscan grove, the proprietor assured me her trees were fine. A quick look suggested otherwise; most of her olives were pierced by telltale holes.

The Italian government predicts the olive crop for 2007 will be about 500,000 tons, 17 percent less than last year.

Truffle news is likewise calamitous, because of drought, combined with shifts in the soil. Italy’s beloved tartufi bianchi, those pungent white truffles, reached a record price in October of $7,500 a kilo. Black truffle season is starting in France, and bidding is headed skyward.

At the Saturday market in Draguignan, farmers who know each of their turnips personally see the signs in their fruit trees, wheat fields and vegetable gardens. Crops ripen too early or not at all. One grower I respect saw his cherries bloom too early and die in a cold snap. Underground streams are tapped out by mid-summer.

As it has routinely since 1988, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has sounded the alarm. Fortified with a Nobel Prize and alarming new evidence, it has dropped “ifs” and “buts.” Some argue that a few seasons do not define a trend. But each morning, my trees tell me the hard truths.

Mort Rosenblum is the author, most recently, of “Escaping Plato’s Cave: How America’s Blindness to the Rest of the World Threatens Our Survival.”

Who Moved My Glacier?

Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, Wash.

“WE don’t need no stinking G.P.S.,” said our guide. It was getting late. And dark. We were descending from the summit of Glacier Peak in the Cascade Range, and our guide wasn’t sure where we were. It was unfamiliar terrain — the kind we’re all going to have to get used to traveling through and living in.

“That thing has been wrong all day,” the guide said as I pulled out my global positioning system receiver. He was a total gearhead, and I had thought he might appreciate my nifty new Garmin Gpsmap 60CSx. But he said, “If you’re always looking down at that thing, you don’t see the territory.” He glanced at his compass and then stared at the rocky ridges poking through the gloaming.

Our guide was right. The G.P.S. could tell us the coordinates of our location on an abstract representation of the earth — to within 23 feet, it turned out, even under lowering clouds in blowing snow. The point appeared on a color screen version of the same United States Geological Survey topographic map that the guide carried in his pocket. But the G.P.S. could not tell us what happened to the glacier that was supposed to be underfoot, yet wasn’t. And that opened up a disorienting gap between the terrain we had expected and the ground we actually stood on.

The G.P.S. wasn’t wrong, though. The mountain was. Where the map, based on aerial photographs taken in 1984, had forecast gradual descents along the graceful slopes of glaciers, we had trudged down and up empty valleys, across volcanic rocks and glacial silt that sucked at our boots.

We compose our sense of territory by consulting the maps in our heads, the maps in our hands and the ground in front of us. When these things don’t match up, we get lost — which can be a wonderful opportunity for discovering new things about our world and ourselves. And climate change is forcing this upon us at every scale. Out West we are looking at wetter winters and drier summers, higher spring stream flows but for shorter periods, longer fire seasons and bigger fires, forests filled with dead trees and pest infestations, and species on the move everywhere. That’s just the big picture. Up close, the situation can be even more disorienting, and dangerous.

“It is not down in any map,” as Herman Melville wrote of Queequeg’s island home in “Moby-Dick.” “True places never are.” Maps have never had a one-to-one correspondence to our world, and they surely never will when mountains change faster than mapmakers can keep up with them. We will have to live by our wits as well as our instruments.

Eventually our guide pulled out his own G.P.S. receiver, a simpler model that gave only our coordinates. He found the spot on his tattered map and took a compass reading to find our direction. Like navigators of old, operating by sextants, astrolabes and compasses on a vast sea, we changed course by dead reckoning. After an hour of scrambling over lingering lobes of ice, patches of snow and volcanic rock, we made our camp at the foot of the dying glacier, just as night fell.

Jon Christensen is an associate director of the Spatial History Project of the Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West at Stanford.

Chile’s Rising Waters and Frozen Avocados

Santiago, Chile

CHILEANS have long boasted of the untold riches of our lands, our fertile soil and our pristine air. For centuries we thought that our robust natural landscape and way of life served to compensate us for the geography that separated us from the rest of the planet. In this small country at the far edge of the world, we always believed that at the very least we were protected from plagues and epidemics.

But distance, it seems, does not protect us from climate change. While Chile has a blazing desert at its head, its feet lie beneath ice, with 7,000 square miles of continental ice masses and the hundreds of thousands of square miles of Antarctica that we claim. Compared to that of other countries, Chile’s contribution to the scourge of global warming is relatively low, at just 0.2 percent, yet we will pay a big price. Global warming is melting Antarctica, and as a result large quantities of water will inundate our coastline.

The beautiful Andean glaciers of southern Chile are also melting before our eyes. Latin Americans tend to exaggerate, but I don’t think I am overstating things when I say that for an environmentalist the sight of those breaking glaciers is as distressing as the collapse of Notre Dame would seem to a Parisian.

Here in Santiago, a few thousand miles from Antarctica, boiling hot temperatures have heralded the start of summer. This is, in general, a happy time of year, but it certainly feels eons away from my adolescent years when we sang along to “Here Comes the Sun” and warmed our souls with the hippie energy of “Let the Sunshine In.” Nowadays in Chile, the first thing people think of when they hear the word “sun” is “sun block.” We are advised to go to the beach only in late afternoon.

Because of this, Chilean victims of climate change have become addicted to Rabelaisian lunches beneath the shade and snore-filled siestas, all in the interest of killing time until sundown. Now, only at twilight do we summon the courage to hit the waves of the Pacific. But what we gain in health we also gain in weight.

The climate change has done serious damage to fruit and vegetable crops, most particularly my favorite, the “palta,” or avocado. An exporter I know told me that this season’s uncharacteristic frosts ruined 40 percent of his crop. Among farmers a feeling of apprehension has taken hold; the weather has always been slightly capricious, but of late it has become altogether unpredictable.

In 1545, Pedro de Valdivia, the conqueror of Chile, encouraged his fellow Spaniards to settle here because “there is no better place in the world in which to live, now and for generations to come.” A few centuries later, our national anthem reiterated this ecological zeal: “Pure, Chile, is your blue-hued sky ... Your fields embroidered with flowers are a joyous likeness of Eden.”

If tiny Chile does not persuade the giants of this planet to control their talent for destruction, in a few decades’ time the literary allusion that might best reflect our land will no longer be the “joyous likeness of Eden” of our national anthem but rather “paradise lost.”

Antonio Skármeta is the author of “The Postman” and the forthcoming novel “The Dancer and the Thief.” This article was translated by Kristina Cordero from the Spanish.

Searching for Local Heroes in China


AT my local supermarket, I’ve noticed an ever-growing number of imported goods stocked beside bottles of soy and oyster sauce: first it was New Zealand dairy products, then wines from Bordeaux; the latest craze is Italian olive oil. As a food writer and chef, I’ve watched with regret how Chinese diets are becoming more Westernized as the country booms.

I’ve also become worried that China’s newfound eating habits are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. While there are movements in America and Europe to reduce carbon footprints and eat locally grown foods, the Chinese are too enthralled with all the new choices to think much of the damage they are doing to the earth.

But in China’s rural heartland, away from wealthy urban centers, evidence suggests that climate change is already beginning to disrupt harvests: at a village near the Great Wall where my fiancé and I spend weekends, the corn farmers complain that the summer rains came six weeks late this year, while the winters are steadily becoming warmer. A stream that runs just beneath the crumbling watchtowers of the Great Wall has dried up, and the farmers say less snow is falling on the jagged brown peaks nearby.

Weather changes are affecting farmers across the country: this year China experienced its worst drought in a decade, affecting nearly 99 million acres of farmland, while tens of millions of farmers faced water restrictions. Meanwhile, heavy rains flooded southern Chinese farmlands in June, killing hundreds.

And China is expected to have increasing problems growing its own food. The United Nations reports that global warming could reduce corn, rice and wheat production here 37 percent after 2050.

A decade or so ago, the sole vegetable that many northern Chinese ate in the winters was cabbage, harvested in the nearby countryside and stored on back porches. Now, flush with cash, Beijing yuppies fill their refrigerators with vegetables from southern China, fruit from Southeast Asia, seafood from Australia.

In traditional Chinese cooking, meat is generally used in small quantities, but Chinese are now demanding more of it, leading to the clear-cutting of forests and increased methane emissions. As Chinese shun fruit and tea in favor of Oreos and Coca-Cola, more factories, many powered by coal, are churning out processed foods and drinks. I certainly understand how, after decades of Communist deprivation, the Chinese are eager to indulge in luxurious new ways of eating that seem mundane to Americans. But the Chinese should keep alive culinary practices that have sustained them for centuries.

Traditional Chinese chefs are some of the world’s most resourceful. They flavor with local ingredients like Sichuan peppercorns and pickled vegetables while making the most of the meat they use, down to the bones and cartilage. As the world warms, these chefs are following traditions that should be an example for China’s new class of rich young urbanites: by making do with what they have locally and being conscious of waste, they are preserving the planet as well as a great cuisine.

Jen Lin-Liu, a co-founder of a Beijing cooking school, is the author of the forthcoming “Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China.”

In the Age of Noah

NY Times
December 23, 2007



Jakarta, Indonesia

A couple of weeks ago, The Times’s Jim Yardley reported from China that the world’s last known female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle was living in one Chinese zoo, while the planet’s only undisputed, known giant soft-shell male turtle was living in another — and together this aging pair were the last hope of saving a species believed to be the largest freshwater turtles in the world.

It struck me as I read that story that our generation has entered a phase that no previous generation has ever experienced: the Noah phase. With more and more species threatened with extinction by The Flood that is today’s global economic juggernaut, we may be the first generation in human history that literally has to act like Noah — to save the last pairs of a wide range of species.

Or as God commanded Noah in Genesis: “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.”

Unlike Noah, though, we’re also the ones causing The Flood, as more and more forests, fisheries, rivers and fertile soils are gobbled up for development. “The loss of global biological diversity is advancing at an unprecedented pace,” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s environment minister, recently told the BBC. “Up to 150 species are becoming extinct every day. ... The web of life that sustains our global society is getting weaker and weaker.”

The world is rightly focused on climate change. But if we don’t have a strategy for reducing global carbon emissions and preserving biodiversity, we could end up in a very bad place, like in a crazy rush into corn ethanol, and palm oil for biodiesel, without enough regard for their impact on the natural world.

“If we don’t plan well, we could find ourselves with a healthy climate on a dead planet,” said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president of Conservation International.

I met one of our generation’s Noahs here in Indonesia: Dr. Jatna Supriatna, a conservation biologist who runs Conservation International’s Indonesia programs. One of his main projects is saving the nearly extinct Javan gibbon, a beautiful primate endemic to the Indonesian island of Java. The Javan gibbon population, decimated by deforestation, is down to an estimated 400, spread out around 20 tropical forest areas in West Java.

Mr. Supriatna helps run the Javan gibbon rehabilitation center, a collection of cages embedded in the mountains of Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, near Jakarta, where male and female gibbons — which are known for their lengthy courtships, not one-night stands — get to know each other over months. First, they live in forest cages side by side, then together and then, if everything works, they produce a couple of babies.

But the process is so slow, and the species so endangered, we may soon be down to the last few pairs — a great loss. Watching a gibbon swing from tree limbs, ropes and bars is like watching a small ape win the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics.

The only way to head off species loss in Indonesia, the country with the most diverse combination of plants, animals and marine life in the world, is the old truism, “It takes a village.” So much of his work here, said Mr. Supriatna, is trying to build coalitions by melding businesses that have an interest in preserving the forest — the geothermal energy investor, for example, who needs trees to maintain the watershed for his power plant — with local governments, which have an interest in preventing illegal logging, with local villagers who need forests to prevent soil erosion and provide fresh water.

Environmentalists here constantly have to work against corrupt local officials, who get bought off by logging interests, and villagers who don’t understand how important the forests are to their daily lives. One of his recent projects, said Mr. Supriatna, was to pipe fresh water from the forest watershed to a nearby village so people there understood the connection. Lately, he has taken his work to the imams who run the local Muslim schools.

“We teach them that the source of the water comes from the mountain and the park,” he said. “And if the park is gone, they will not have the clean water they need for prayer rituals. If you influence the imam, he will influence all the kids.”

For so many years, Indonesians, like many of us, have been taught that life is a trade-off: healthy people with lots of jobs or healthy forests with lots of gibbons — you can’t have both. But the truth is you have to have both. If you don’t, you’ll eventually end up with neither, and then it will be too late even for Noah.

(This is my last column until April. I will be on leave, writing a book on energy and the environment. Happy holidays!)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Arrogance and Warming

NY Times
December 21, 2007


The Bush administration’s decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Stephen Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, overrode the advice of his legal and technical staffs, misconstrued the law and defied both Congress and the federal courts. It also stuck a thumb in the eyes of 17 other state governors who have grown impatient with the federal government’s failure to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and wanted to move aggressively on their own.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave California authority to set its own clean air standards if it first received a federal waiver. The law also said that other states could then adopt California’s standards. In 2004, California asked permission to move ahead with a law requiring automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016. That would require improvements in fuel economy far beyond those called for in the energy bill signed this week.

Over the years, California has made 50 waiver requests to regulate smog-forming pollutants and other gases and has never been denied. This was the first request involving emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which the Bush administration has steadfastly refused to regulate.

For three years, the E.P.A. also hid behind the argument that it had no authority over carbon dioxide emissions because carbon dioxide was not specifically identified as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court demolished that argument last April. Subsequent court decisions have upheld the states’ authority to set their own standards while refuting the auto industry’s assertions that meeting the California standards would be technologically and economically impossible.

Undeterred, industry tried to insert language in the energy bill that would have gutted E.P.A.’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide and, thus, its authority to grant California its waiver. Congress refused. The automakers also sought relief from the White House and Vice President Cheney. The result of all these machinations was Mr. Johnson’s decision on Wednesday and the ludicrous reasoning that accompanied it.

One of Mr. Johnson’s arguments was that a “national solution” to carbon dioxide emissions was preferable to a “confusing patchwork of state rules.” A national solution is precisely what the administration has refused to offer. And the California rule — once in force there and in 17 other states — would in fact constitute a uniform standard covering nearly half the car market. That is why the automakers lobbied so fiercely against it.

It has been hard enough to trust Mr. Bush’s recent assertions that he has finally gotten religion on climate change. It all seems like posturing now.

China Grabs West’s Smoke-Spewing Factories

NY Times
December 21, 2007


HANDAN, China — When residents of this northern Chinese city hang their clothes out to dry, the black fallout from nearby Handan Iron and Steel often sends them back to the wash.

Half a world away, neighbors of ThyssenKrupp’s former steel mill in the Ruhr Valley of Germany once had a similar problem. The white shirts men wore to church on Sundays turned gray by the time they got home.

These two steel towns have an unusual kinship, spanning 5,000 miles and a decade of economic upheaval. They have shared the same hulking blast furnace, dismantled and shipped piece by piece from Germany’s old industrial heartland to Hebei Province, China’s new Ruhr Valley.

The transfer, one of dozens since the late 1990s, contributed to a burst in China’s steel production, which now exceeds that of Germany, Japan and the United States combined. It left Germany with lost jobs and a bad case of postindustrial angst.

But steel mills spewing particulates into the air and sucking electricity from China’s coal-fired power plants account for a big chunk of the country’s surging emissions of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. Germany, in contrast, has cleaned its skies and is now leading the fight against global warming.

In its rush to re-create the industrial revolution that made the West rich, China has absorbed most of the major industries that once made the West dirty. Spurred by strong state support, Chinese companies have become the dominant makers of steel, coke, aluminum, cement, chemicals, leather, paper and other goods that faced high costs, including tougher environmental rules, in other parts of the world. China has become the world’s factory, but also its smokestack.

This mass shift of polluting industries has blighted China’s economic rise. Double-digit growth rates have done less to improve people’s lives when the damages to the air, land, water and human health are considered, some economists say. Outmoded production equipment will have to be replaced or retrofitted at high cost if the country intends to reduce pollution.

China’s worsening environment has also upended the geopolitics of global warming. It produces and exports so many goods once made in the West that many wealthy countries can boast of declining carbon emissions, even while the world’s overall emissions are rising quickly.

The Ruhr Valley city of Dortmund, where ThyssenKrupp once made steel, still suffers from high unemployment because of the loss of jobs to lower-cost countries like China. But Germans can buy Chinese-made iPods, washing machines and cargo ships at prices that, because of lax pollution controls, do not reflect the toll on the environment. And the outsourcing of polluting industries has given them cleaner air and water.

“It seems to me that China is making all the mistakes that we made in the 19th century,” said Wilhelm Grote, an environmental regulator in Dortmund, who recalls washing his father’s car as a child, only to see it immediately blanketed by soot. “They will find it is much more expensive to fix up later than to do it right from the start.”

Having ignored the environmental consequences of its industrial binge for years, the Communist Party leadership now says it is determined to develop a cleaner economic model. Beijing has tried to enforce ambitious — though so far unmet — targets to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

Officials say they are especially concerned about the environmental burden of producing more than $1 trillion of goods each year for sale overseas. Of China’s total carbon emissions, which by some estimates now exceed those of the United States, just over a third are incurred in the course of making products for foreign consumers, according to the International Energy Agency, an energy policy and research group in Paris.

The country’s central planning agency recently barred purchases of some used industrial equipment from abroad, requiring companies to install newer energy-efficient systems. It has canceled many incentives devised to promote exports, especially for companies that guzzle energy and pollute heavily. Officials have warned companies that breaking environmental laws will cost them their export licenses.

“Some enterprises are abusing the environment to lower export prices,” Chen Guanglong, a Ministry of Commerce official, said in announcing a crackdown on polluters this fall. “They sell their products abroad, but the pollution is left at home.”

There are few signs, however, that Chinese officials have real regrets about becoming the world’s hub of heavy industry. Investment in new plants and equipment for steel, aluminum and cement has risen sharply even as central planners warn that the sector will get less state support. China’s steel exports to the European Union are expected to double this year from the record set in 2006.

Three hundred miles south of Beijing, the city of Handan is both a beneficiary and a victim. Hangang, as the local steel mill is called, is a government favorite, having received permission to list its shares on the stock market and expand production. That is despite the fact that, like many of China’s largest steel companies, it is in a crowded city.

Residents on the west side of Handan live in a miasma of dust and smoke that environmental authorities acknowledge contains numerous carcinogens. After public protests, the company agreed to pay an annual “pollution fee” to compensate some neighbors.

The Ruhr gets a different kind of subsidy. Germany and the European Union have committed nearly $22 billion to transform the region into a center of education, technology and tourism. Bulldozers are remaking ThyssenKrupp’s old steel mill into a terraced hillside community, with shops, restaurants and single-family homes surrounding a man-made lake.

A Faltering Leap Forward

Hangang was created by an act of Mao. In 1958, the Chinese leader spurred his people to sacrifice everything, including their pots and pans, in China’s first attempt to become a steel superpower. He called the campaign the Great Leap Forward.

Handan, an ancient but neglected city on the parched plains of southern Hebei Province, had two advantages: rich veins of coal and iron ore and easy access to a major north-south railway line.

“The ancient city of Handan must be rejuvenated as a capital of steel,” Mao proclaimed.

So next to the Handan railway station, just west of the city’s urban center, authorities erected a triumphal gate crowned with statues of heroic workers reaching for the sky. Inside, coking, sintering and smelting plants churned out crude iron and steel.

In economic terms, Hangang was not markedly more successful than the rest of the Great Leap Forward, which led to mass famine. It survived for decades on state subsidies, providing benefits for its 30,000 workers but making low-quality ferrous metals that earned poor returns.

In the 1990s, Hangang came under pressure to turn a profit. Its managers decided to start making sheet metal, for home appliances and cars, as well as their usual output of construction materials. That required a major upgrade.

Backed by state bank loans and a listing on the Shanghai stock market, Hangang embarked on an overhaul. But its ambitions far exceeded its budget. The company needed a cheap and radical solution to transform the mill.

The answer came from Europe, especially from the Ruhr Valley. The Ruhr had been the engine room of German industry since the mid-19th century. It was rich in coal and Prussian zeal.

The region’s big steel groups, Thyssen, Krupp and Mannesmann, forged the weapons for Germany’s armies and later the sheet metal for its automobiles.

But by the 1960s, Germany’s industrial golden age had begun to wane. Miners had to dig deeper to extract coal, which became uneconomical. Taxes and labor costs rose, while reunification subjected West German companies to subsidized competition from the East. Steel mills also came under heavy government pressure to install the latest environmental and efficiency controls.

“In the 1980s, we still had a dream that it was just a temporary slump and we would grow strong again,” said Michael Schwarze-Rodrian, director of the Ruhr Business Development Agency. “But pressures were too great. Our time had passed.”

Thyssen and Krupp merged their steel operations in 1997 and consolidated production in Duisburg, on the Rhine.

The Dortmund steel mills, called Phoenix, which had been among Germany’s largest since before World War II, were slated for closure, and probably the scrap heap.

That is, until Hangang got word that it could buy a relatively sophisticated German blast furnace for a small fraction of what a new one would cost.

“The reshuffle of the world steel industry gave Hangang this opportunity,” Liu Hanzhang, chairman of Hangang, told local media after he bought the Phoenix furnace in 1998. “Some people think we are a low-tech steel mill. We will become first-class.”

Germans did not have to dismantle their own industrial patrimony. Hangang sent workers to Dortmund. They labeled every part of the seven-story furnace, then disassembled it and packed it in thousands of wooden crates for the long voyage to the port of Tianjin.

“They worked day and night,” said Erwin Schneider, a spokesman for ThyssenKrupp. “They could never have done it that fast if they were governed by German labor laws.”

It was not the only such case. Hangang alone spent $800 million importing new and used equipment, according to company literature. It purchased a used ladle furnace and billet caster from Société Métallurgique de Normandie in France. It bought another secondhand blast furnace and a sinter machine from Arbed in Luxembourg.

Other Chinese companies flocked to the European fire sale, stripping Dortmund of its assets.

ThyssenKrupp sold the remaining parts of the Phoenix plant to Shagang Group, a privately run steel mill on the Yangtze River, in 2000.

And in 2003, 400 Chinese workers traveled to the Ruhr Valley and dismantled the Kaiserstuhl coking plant in Dortmund, which had been built only a few years earlier to meet exacting European environmental standards.

It now belongs to Yankuang Group, a coking company in Shandong Province.

A Loud and Dirty Business

Belching and thundering 24 hours a day, the coking, iron and steel works at Hangang cover four square miles and resemble a working museum of the industrial age. Its oldest coal-powered furnace, with its corroded, protruding shoots and shafts, might have belonged to Andrew Carnegie. The newest, part of a big expansion, uses waste heat to generate power, a technology that saves energy.

The European castoffs fell somewhere in between. It took Hangang several years to integrate this equipment into its patchwork of production lines. The Phoenix plant was christened No. 7 blast furnace. The Normandy and Luxembourg machines became part of the No. 3 steel works.

Facing stiff competition in China’s overcrowded steel industry, Hangang still does not consistently make a profit. But the shopping spree did send production surging. In the decade after 1996, its output rose 350 percent.

Shimmering yellow and raging red, Hangang’s flare stacks burn off waste gases and inflame the night sky. A fleet of diesel locomotives hauling coal shakes the farmhouses and apartment buildings that hug the plant’s outer walls. For Handan’s 8.5 million residents, and especially the tens of thousands who live in the plant’s immediate shadow, the complex is a noisome, noxious, money-spinning, job-creating leviathan.

Tian Lanxiu climbs to the roof of a neighbor’s home in Mengwu Village to survey the expanse of Hangang beyond. In the gray horizon she points out the No. 7 blast furnace — “the one the West Germans come to fix.” Nearby is a cooling plant that hisses white steam, and a coking facility that oozes yellow exhaust.

Ms. Tian said she and other villagers learned to cope with Hangang’s emissions. People do not eat outdoors, she said, to avoid having black briquettes flake their rice. If her children cannot fall asleep at night, she stuffs their ears with cotton.

Some people in Mengwu have died young, she said, often of heart disease or cancer. She has no evidence to connect their deaths to the steel mill, but says she has few doubts herself. “Hangang knocks 10 years off people’s lives,” she said. “We all want to live longer. We’re growing more aware.”

Hangang officials declined several requests to discuss production and environmental controls. But the company has said in domestic news media interviews that, along with the upgrading of its production facilities, it has installed pollution-control equipment and improved the area’s environment.

Government officials in Handan also declined to discuss the plant. But a 2006 study by the city and Tianjin University found abnormally high levels of chemicals of the benzene family attached to coal dust particulates around Handan.

Airborne concentrations of benzopyrene, a byproduct of coking that some studies have linked to lung cancer, were just below the level measured in two of the country’s most polluted industrial areas, Lanzhou and Taiyuan, and 100 times the levels measured in London, the study said.

Hangang officials once considered moving their older, more heavily polluting production lines farther west of the city. Local environmental officials told state news media in 2005 that if the steel mill did move part of its operations, sulfur dioxide levels in Handan would drop 65 percent. Hangang ultimately elected not to move its older facilities, several people who work at the mill said, because the cost was prohibitive. Instead, Hangang and Shanghai-based Baoshan Iron and Steel teamed up to build another steel mill at the new site. Hangang’s old plant remains in operation.

People who live near the plant have staged scattered protests about its pollution for years. The police have intervened and arrested some protesters. But the company has also sought to defuse unrest by giving jobs and other benefits to area residents.

Two years ago, Ms. Tian and a group of mostly older women sat on railroad tracks leading into Hangang and unfurled a banner that said, “Don’t darken our skies.” Their sit-in blocked a train. They demanded that Hangang arrange for them to move far from the plant, Ms. Tian said.

Hangang declined to do so. But it later agreed to pay them a subsidy in lieu of moving, which the villagers call a “pollution fee.”

On a wall along the village street, officials have pasted strips of baby-blue rice paper listing the names of the heads of each household and its pollution payment. Ms. Tian said she recently collected her third annual installment, totaling $140.

The Dream and Curse of Steel

China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest steel producer 10 years ago. Since then, steel production in both the United States and Germany has barely budged, while China has left them in the dust. Its mills have increased their output fivefold over the decade, to about 38 percent of the world’s total.

That is a realization of Mao’s dream. But steel has also proved a curse. China has 77 large steel mills like Hangang, and hundreds of smaller rivals. They have so much excess capacity that production of some basic steel products has become unprofitable at home and abroad. Worse, steel pollutes more than any other industry in China, perhaps in the world.

Despite a government-mandated efficiency drive, steel will use 11 percent more power this year than last, fully one-tenth of the country’s total energy supply, according to the China Iron and Steel Association.

Along with aluminum and cement, steel is the biggest reason China added 90 gigawatts of generation capacity this year, the third year in a row in which it will increase its power output by more than the total capacity of Britain. About 85 percent of those new power plants burn coal.

The International Energy Agency, which had predicted as recently as a few years ago that China’s carbon emissions would not reach those of the United States until 2020, now thinks China took the lead this year.

Chen Kexin, an economist with China’s Ministry of Commerce, said weak environmental laws and still inexpensive power, even more than low labor costs, had enabled Chinese steel makers to undercut prices elsewhere. “The shortfall of environmental protection is one of the main reasons why our exports are cheaper,” Mr. Chen said. “This is hardly an ‘edge’ that we should be proud of.”

In fact, Beijing has begun to discourage steel exports. It not only eliminated export tax rebates on many steel products in April, but also slapped an export surcharge on some. Officials expect export growth to slow.

But Mr. Chen said China now so dominated the international steel trade that any drop in its exports would raise prices abroad, keeping local steel competitive. “It could take years to restore a more normal trade balance,” he said.

The transfer of pollution to China also complicates international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and agree on a plan to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, an issue that will be under discussion for the next two years.

One apparent benefit of China’s industrial rise is that developed countries have slowed or cut their carbon emissions, a political and environmental boon as pressure to combat climate change has increased. Even the United States, which has declined to set limits on carbon emissions, has recently shown slight declines. But the gains are illusory.

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that if all the goods that the United States imported between 1997 and 2004 had been produced domestically, America’s carbon emissions would have been 30 percent higher.

A separate study for the European Parliament examined the transfer of steel production to China from Germany. It found that China’s less efficient steel mills, and its greater reliance on coal, meant that it emitted three times as much carbon dioxide per ton of steel as German steel producers.

From Beijing’s perspective, its exports of steel and other “carbon-intensive” products provide one more reason — along with its still moderate per capita emissions and its low standard of living — for rejecting mandatory caps on carbon emissions. Rich countries, it says, should cut their own emissions sharply and transfer technology so that China will not pollute as much as those countries did when they had their industrial booms.

Some leading environmental economists agree. “The footprint of the rich countries is very large because they lay claim to resources in other countries,” said R. Andreas Kraemer, director of the Ecologic Institute for International and European Environmental Policy in Berlin.

He and other experts say wealthy countries may have to reduce their consumption as well as their production of carbon in the future. That would oblige them to count what they import from China and elsewhere.

But that idea is notional, while heavy industry’s shift to China is inexorable.

Germany is China’s mirror image. Polluting factories have migrated abroad. Coal mining has withered. Since 1990, Germany has reduced its annual carbon emissions by 19 percent.

The Greening of Germany

Its transformation dates to the 1970s, with the first attempts to limit lead in gasoline. But it gained momentum in 1980 with the founding of the Green Party, the first environmental party to gain national prominence in Europe. In 1986, prodded partly by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, West Germany established a ministry dedicated to protecting the environment. It had plenty to do. Germany’s forests had been badly damaged by acid rain from factories in the Ruhr. The Rhine River, which flows past the western edge of the Ruhr Valley, was devoid of marine life.

German reunification in 1990 saddled the country with East Germany’s low-grade brown coal plants, the dirtiest in Europe. Germany cleaned up the East, shutting down many low-efficiency factories, and achieved sharp reductions in carbon emissions.

Reunification also produced a new generation of green political leaders. Chancellor Angela Merkel, an eastern German physicist, entered national politics in 1994, when Helmut Kohl, then the chancellor, named her environment minister. Mrs. Merkel, who earned the nickname the “climate chancellor,” has pushed multilateral agreements to reduce carbon emissions despite stern resistance from the United States to mandatory cuts.

On Dec. 5, her government passed legislation to reduce Germany’s emissions by an additional 40 percent by 2020. “Germany wants to set an example,” she said.

Dortmund and other Ruhr cities never fully recovered jobs lost to China’s new titans of steel. The unemployment rate in the city still hovers around 15 percent, 50 percent higher than the national average.

Walter Schwalen, a 68-year-old former steelworker, points out the window of his second-floor walk-up to a yawning black pit where the Phoenix blast furnaces once roared.

He said he watched from his window as a team of Chinese workers dismantled and packed up his old workplace in 1998. “I thought, ‘Our poor Germany,’” he said. “One company after another is closing. Germany is finished.”

Yet, the Ruhr region is also a laboratory for how an industrial economy can make the transition to a post-industrial era. Once a byword for grit and grime, where drivers turned on their car headlights midmorning to see through the haze of coal smoke, it has been designated a European capital of culture for 2010.

In Essen, a depleted coal mine has been converted into a museum and performing-arts center. In Bochum, a 105-year-old gas-fired power plant is now used as a concert hall, its vaulted roof providing professional-quality acoustics.

The Ruhr is coming to grips with another legacy of its polluted past: the Emscher, a 52-mile long river that suffered the indignity of being turned into an industrial waste canal at the end of the 19th century. Germany now plans to spend $7 billion to bring it back to life. Subterranean pipes will ferry wastewater to treatment plants, returning the river to a natural state. It will be flanked by parkland, the spine of a 248-mile Industrial Heritage Trail for tourists.

Dortmund, which in 1960 had 40,000 people working in steel mills, now has barely 3,000. But there are 12,000 new jobs in information technology and 2,300 in nanotechnology, which took root here in the last five years. The region, which once had no universities, now has six, as well as eight colleges, with a total enrollment of 160,000 students.

Even the Phoenix site is rising again. The city has left two old blast furnaces there as the corroded centerpiece of what they hope will be an outdoor performing-arts complex. The government is spending $500 million to dig up soil and remove chemical residues from a half-century of steel making, clearing the way for a lake, a housing development and an office park for start-up companies.

“It took three generations to do this to the environment,” said Mr. Schwarze-Rodrian of the Ruhr Business Development Agency. “I think it’s reasonable that it will take a generation to fix.”

Joseph Kahn reported from Handan, China, and Dortmund, Germany, and Mark Landler from Dortmund. Jake Hooker and Ma Yi contributed reporting from Beijing and Handan, and Sarah Plass from Dortmund and Frankfurt.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

College stakes a green claim to fame

Portland Press Herald
December 20, 2007

College of the Atlantic says it is the nation's first to reduce its
atmospheric carbon impact to zero.

By JOHN RICHARDSON, Staff Writer December 20, 2007

College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor has become the first college
or university in the United States to claim it is no longer adding
heat-trapping carbon to the earth's atmosphere.

The college, already regarded as the most earth-friendly campus
in the world, reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by
conserving energy and using more renewable power, its
president said Wednesday. It then offset, or canceled out, the
remaining emissions by investing $25,000 in a creative
pollution-reduction effort on the West Coast, he said.

"We have much more to do to directly reduce our emissions, but
it is satisfying to know that the last 15 months of College of the
Atlantic's contribution to the increase of greenhouse gases in
our atmosphere adds up to zero," said President David Hales,
who pledged two years ago to make the school carbon-neutral.

The presidents of more than 450 American colleges and
universities, including the entire University of Maine system and
many private schools in Maine, have signed a pledge to go
carbon neutral over time. The American College and University
Presidents Climate Commitment requires each school to come
up with its own plans and deadlines.

College of the Atlantic became the first "net-zero" campus in
part because it is a small school with a proven environmental

"They have been a leader on this already, so they have done a lot
to reduce their emissions," said Lee Bodner, executive director of
the national climate commitment program. "The path that they
have blazed is something that other schools can follow no
matter what their size."

The college was founded as an environmental school in 1969,
and its students helped pass Maine's landmark bottle-
redemption bill in 1973. All 300 students on the 31-acre island
campus major in Human Ecology, the study of how people relate
to the environment.

Students did much of the work to achieve the net-zero status,
including finding ways to reduce energy use and finding an
offset investment that will provide a real and verifiable reduction
in emissions, according to Hale.

Cutting energy use 22 percent and eliminating more than 400
tons of carbon emissions turned out to be the easy part, he said.
The improvements included more efficient lighting and
insulation, more carpooling and making the switch to
hydropower for electricity.

The school plans to keep reducing its emissions. New dorms are
going to be heated with wood pellets, for example.

But there's no way right now to eliminate all emissions on
campus, Hales said. Students and faculty drive cars and fly in
airplanes, and the school relies somewhat on fossil fuels to keep
warm in winter.

"I knew that (conservation) wasn't going to get us to zero and
that we were going to buy offsets. But the challenge of buying
offsets that we were comfortable with was a very, very difficult
process," he said. "Some offsets are doing nothing but making
somebody rich."

There are no uniform standards or regulations in the growing
market for carbon offsets, which basically allow investors to pay
someone else to reduce emissions. Some offsets, for example,
might promise to plant trees or build windmills that might have
been planted or built anyway, giving the investor only a false
sense of security.

College of The Atlantic eventually chose The Climate Trust, a
program that is reducing carbon dioxide emissions by
coordinating traffic signals in Portland, Ore. and shortening the
amount of time cars spend idling. The project is expected to
reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 190,000 tons over
five years. The college's $25,000 investment effectively pays for
nearly 2,500 tons of reduced emissions, the same amount it put
into the atmosphere over the past 15 months, according to the

Although the school had hoped to invest in a program closer to
home, Hales said reducing emissions in Oregon has the same
impact on global warming as reducing the emissions in Bar

The college has published details of its efforts on its Web site

Carbon offsets are controversial. Frank Heller of Brunswick said
the school deserves credit for reducing energy use and
emissions. "That's worthy and more people should emulate
them," he said.

But he doesn't buy the net-zero claim.

"I think it really is a bit like buying indulgences," said Heller, a
critic of the trend. "Buying the carbon credits may be a
convenient way out of going the extra mile and actually
installing solar" panels or other renewable energy technology.

Advocates of the trend among colleges say the first goal is to
reduce emissions, but that the investments – if carefully selected
– will also slow global warming.

"All of the schools are going to end up reducing as much as they
can before they go to offsets," Bodner said.

He called College of the Atlantic a good example to follow. "They
didn't take any shortcuts."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

Copyright © 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers

Real Action on Climate Change

NY Times
December 7, 2007, 11:14 am

By Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter, an international lawyer and the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She is the author “The Idea that is America,” and she is spending this academic year in Shanghai.

I caught a snippet of a speech at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali, long enough to hear the speaker say: “We need real action.” Real action. Not promises, not hopes for new technologies, not high-minded rhetoric, but action.

When I was in Japan last month, I saw real action in action. After a day of meetings at the Foreign Ministry, a young diplomat escorted me to the entrance just after 5:00. We walked through a darkened hallway; I assumed that we were in a part of the building under renovation. Not so – my guide explained to me that all non-essential lights were turned off “to save energy and the environment.” We came to the elevator bank, where 5-6 people were waiting in front of an elevator even though the elevator next to it was there and empty. I gestured toward it, and my guide again explained that after 5:00 only one elevator ran – the others were blocked.

The next day in the train station I commented on the waste-bins with three or four different compartments for different kinds of waste. Our Japanese escort, Eiko-san, explained that at home Tokyo residents are required to separate out 7 different kinds of products for recycling, and that in some other cities in Japan the categories go as high as 19. These distinctions make it possible to readily recycle different materials; indeed, Eiko-san mentioned that the governor of Tokyo was doing everything possible to avoid creating another major landfill.

Small potatoes, perhaps – certainly in the face of the enormity of climate change. Indeed, every time we read of the massive natural forces that carbon concentrations are unleashing – melting glaciers, warming ocean waters, hurricanes and floods – it is natural to think that only similarly massive solutions – the invention of brand-new energy sources, the ability to block heat from the atmosphere via enormous cloud-shields – can save us. In fact, however, as any climate scientist will tell you, it’s going to take a wide array of solutions, big and small, to begin reversing the damage we have already done, much less avoiding even greater catastrophe.

I am old enough to remember Jimmy Carter giving a speech in his cardigan, telling all Americans to turn their thermostats down to 68 in the winter to save energy after the energy crisis in the 1970s. He was widely ridiculed for such an old-fashioned, unimaginative approach. But his leadership was far better than the complete absence of leadership on this issue we face today. Every individual who thinks about turning down a thermostat, driving less, saving water or any other conservation measures naturally thinks: “But why should I, when it’s just a drop in the bucket and my neighbor isn’t doing it?”

This is where good old-fashioned exhortation comes in – the power of a president to marshal a nation in a common purpose. If nothing else, give us guidelines – thermostat settings, recommended MPG standards, recycling recommendations. And set an example from the top. I have been in the State Department after 5:00, and I never noticed dimmed lights or stopped elevators. For all the grand speeches in Bali, real action starts at home.

E.P.A. Says 17 States Can’t Set Emission Rules for Cars

NY Times
December 20, 2007


WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.

The E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said the proposed California rules were pre-empted by federal authority and made moot by the energy bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson said California had failed to make a compelling case that it needed authority to write its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks to help curb global warming.

The decision immediately provoked a heated debate over its scientific basis and whether political pressure was applied by the automobile industry to help it escape the proposed California regulations. Officials from the states and numerous environmental groups vowed to sue to overturn the edict.

In an evening conference call with reporters, Mr. Johnson defended his agency’s decision.

“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” he said. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”

The 17 states — including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — had waited two years for the Bush administration to issue a ruling on an application to set stricter air quality standards than those adopted by the federal government. The decision, technically known as a Clean Air Act waiver, was the first time California was refused permission to impose its own pollution rules; the federal government had previously granted the state more than 50 waivers.

The emissions standards California proposed in 2004 — but never approved by the federal government — would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks to begin in 2009 models.

That would have translated into roughly 43 miles per gallon for cars and some light trucks and about 27 miles per gallon for heavier trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The new federal law will require automakers to meet a 35-mile-per-gallon fleetwide standard for cars and trucks sold in the United States by 2020. It does not address carbon dioxide emissions, but such emissions would be reduced as cars were forced to become more fuel efficient.

California’s proposed rules had sought to address the impact of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from cars and trucks that scientists say contribute to the warming of the planet.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said the states would go to federal court to reverse the E.P.A. decision.

“It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “We will continue to fight this battle.”

He added, “California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today’s decision and allow Californians to protect our environment.”

Twelve other states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — had proposed standards like California’s, and the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah said they would do the same.

If the waiver had been granted and the 16 other states had adopted the California standard, it would have covered at least half of all vehicles sold in the United States.

Automakers praised the decision. “We commend E.P.A. for protecting a national, 50-state program,” said David McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all automakers, but a patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs at the state level would only have created confusion, inefficiency and uncertainty for automakers and consumers.”

Industry analysts and environmental groups said the E.P.A. decision had the appearance of a reward to the industry, in return for dropping its opposition to the energy legislation. Auto industry leaders issued statements supporting the new energy law, which gives them more time to improve fuel economy than California would have.

The California attorney general, Edmund G. Brown Jr., called the decision “absurd.” He said the decision ignored a long history of waivers granted California to deal with its special topographical, climate and transportation circumstances, which require tougher air quality standards than those set nationally.

Mr. Brown noted that federal courts in California and Vermont upheld the California standards this year against challenges by the auto industry.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, said: “I find this disgraceful. The passage of the energy bill does not give the E.P.A a green light to shirk its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the American people from air pollution.”

Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the E.P.A. decision defied law, science and common sense. He said his committee would investigate how the decision had been made and would seek to reverse it.

Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, called the ruling a “mockery of law and sound public policy.”

Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, said the state would challenge the decision.

Mr. Johnson, the E.P.A. administrator, cited federal law, not science, as the underpinning of his decision. “Climate change affects everyone regardless of where greenhouse gases occur, so California is not exclusive,” he said.

Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, which had geared up to enforce the proposed emissions rules on 2009-model cars, said the reasoning was flawed. “Thirty-five miles per gallon is not the same thing as a comprehensive program for reducing greenhouse gases,” Ms. Nichols said.

David Doniger, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that since 1984, the agency has not distinguished between local, national and international air pollution.

“All the smog problems that California has are shared with other states, just like the global warming problems they have are shared with other states,” he said.

Danny Hakim and Micheline Maynard contributed reporting.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What Was That All About?

NY Times

December 19, 2007


Bali, Indonesia

As readers of this column know, I have a rule that there is a simple way to test whether any Arab-Israeli peace deal is real or not: If you need a Middle East expert to explain it to you, it’s not real. I now have the same rule about global climate agreements: If you need an environmental expert to explain it to you, it’s not real.

I needed 10 experts to explain to me the Bali climate agreement — and I was there! I’m still not quite sure what it adds up to. I’m not opposed to forging a regime with 190 countries for reducing carbon emissions, but my gut tells me that both the North and South Poles will melt before we get it to work.

There is a better way. Just make America the model of how a country can grow prosperous, secure, innovative and healthy by becoming the most clean, energy-efficient nation in the world — and let everyone follow us.

Unfortunately, the Bush team has not been able to lead on this issue — for two reasons. First, its credibility is shot, even though if you add up all the clean energy, biofuel and other programs the administration has initiated over the past two years, plus the half-a-loaf energy bill spearheaded by the Democrats that the president is scheduled to sign today, they don’t add up to zero anymore.

There was a revealing encounter here Thursday between the U.S. negotiating team and environmentalists that was worthy of pay-per-view. The American team was giving its big briefing. The room was packed with activists from around the world. They came loaded to carve up the Americans, who, it was just assumed, had to be stupid because they represented the Bush administration.

And then something unexpected happened. For 90 minutes, Andy Karsner, who runs the Department of Energy’s renewable energy programs, James Connaughton, who heads White House climate policy, and their colleagues put on a PowerPoint performance that was riveting in its understanding of the climate problem and the technologies needed to solve it. Their mastery of the subject was so impressive that it left the room full of global activists emotionally confused: On the one hand, it was obvious that these U.S. officials really knew their stuff, yet on the other, I’d bet not a single person there believed they reflected the true Bush policy.

As if reading the minds of everyone there, Malini Mehra, the chief executive of the Centre for Social Markets, an Indian activist group, took the microphone and, in so many words, asked the Bush aides: Who are you and what planet did you come from? It could not possibly be from planet Bush.

“Anyone who has been listening to the news on climate change knows that there has been one message from this administration — that any serious action on climate change threatens the U.S. economy and our way of life,” Ms. Mehra said to me later.

So to now hear these American technocrats “present what was a thoughtful analysis that made sense, flies in the face of what we have come to know about this administration,” she added.

A lot of this is the price America is paying for the gratuitous way President Bush trashed the Kyoto treaty in 2001, without presenting any alternative for six years. Message to world: “Get lost. We only care about ourselves.”

So now, when both Mr. Bush and Congress have moved a little, few people believe even that is for real. As Irwandi Yusuf, the governor of Indonesia’s Aceh Province, bluntly said to me: “We don’t believe the Americans in this administration.”

The other reason we can’t be a model is that whatever the U.S. is now doing to address the global warming challenge, it is not transformational. It is an incremental approach to a scale problem that can only be solved by triggering massive innovation in clean power. And without a price signal — a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system — to make it profitable to invest enormous sums, long term, in new clean technologies, it will not happen at scale.

The Bush team loves new technologies, but not the price signals needed to initiate them. By the way, finance or energy ministers who deal with price signals weren’t even at the Bali convention, which was dominated by environmental regulators.

“This is a problem of economic transformation, not environmental regulation,” said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president at Conservation International. (Disclosure: My wife is on its board.) “The transformation needed will require far more than just passing one law or signing one treaty. It will require the same level of focus and initiative that the Bush administration is devoting to the war on terror. No political leader in the U.S. is approaching this issue yet with anywhere near the seriousness required.”

So I still don’t know what Bali was about, but I do know that it was incremental, not transformational — and incrementalism, when it comes to clean energy, is just a hobby.

Governors Call for Improving Alternative Fuels and Clean Vehicles in States

December 13, 2007

Governors Convene in Florida as Part of NGA's Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative, Release 'A Call to Action' Report

Contact: Christopher Cashman, 202-624-7787, 202-262-6249 (cell)

WASHINGTON-As part of the National Governors Associations (NGA) Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative (SCEF Initiative), four governors today joined together in Florida to discuss advancing alternative fuels and clean vehicles in the United States, release the first SCEF Initiative publication "A Call to Action," and announce a clean energy partnership between NGA and Discovery Communications.

NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty opened the summit by stating, "America is the world's leading consumer of petroleum, using more than 7.6 billion barrels of oil a year, of which more than 60 percent is imported. If we're to wrestle back control of our own energy future, America must devote serious attention to increasing development of alternative fuels and clean vehicles. As this conference demonstrates, governors are leading the way."

SCEF Task Force Member Florida Gov. Charlie Crist added, "I am honored to unite with other governors who are taking action to advance our nation's use of renewable energy. As we work together, I am confident that by increasing our use of ethanol - as well as solar power and wind energy - we move closer to making clean energy the standard of the day."

At the "Governors' Summit on Alternative Transportation Fuels and Advanced Vehicles," Gov. Pawlenty, Gov. Crist, SCEF Initiative Co-Chair Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and SCEF Task Force Member Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer highlighted the opportunities and challenges governors face when developing and using alternative transportation fuels, infrastructure and vehicles in their states.

"Kansas is making great strides in the production, consumption, and promotion of biofuels," said Gov. Sebelius. "I look forward to working with governors across the country to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil."

At a press conference following their discussion, the governors released the SCEF Initiative's "A Call to Action," a report declaring America's current energy path unacceptable because of escalating economic risk and serious environmental consequences. The report compels the nation's governors to act now to solve America's energy challenges by:

Defining the current energy problem, including the depths of our current dependence on oil and other fossil fuels;
Painting a stark picture of the "business as usual" future;
Dispelling myths associated with increasing alternative energy sources, breaking our oil addiction, meeting surging electricity demand, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
Describing the integral role states will play in promoting clean energy; and
Presenting the SCEF Initiative's roadmap to a cleaner, more secure energy future for America.
"For too long myths and hearsay have prevented meaningful action on these issues," said Gov. Schweitzer. "But governors are taking action. I'm proud to be here today with my colleagues to continue our work addressing our nation's shared energy challenges."

The SCEF Initiative is not just about motivating governors to embrace clean energy policies, but also about raising awareness of the importance individual contributions can make in solving America's energy challenges. Today NGA also announced a partnership with Discovery Communications - home to the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other notable television programming - to motivate individuals across the country to embrace clean energy in their everyday activities. At the summit,Gov. Pawlenty unveiled the first product of this partnership: a public service announcement (PSA) that demonstrates simple actions individuals can take to reduce their overall energy consumption, and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. The PSA will begin airing on Discovery's networks in 2008.

Discovery is a passionate advocate of preserving our earth and a leader in developing television programs that educate citizens about the earth's best qualities. Next year, Discovery's commitment to these issues will reach new heights when Discovery Home channel becomes Planet Green - the first 24-hour eco-lifestyle channel dedicated to making a difference by providing tools, information and content that will enlighten, empower and most importantly, entertain. Gov. Pawlenty and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are honorary board members of Planet Green.

This is the first of three summits planned by NGA's SCEF Initiative. The SCEF Initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Energy Deliverability and Reliability. In 2008, the SCEF Initiative will convene summits focusing on states' role in encouraging research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies and also look at options to promote clean power generation and energy efficiency. For more information on the Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative, please visit


Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit

Planet Green is Discovery Communications' global, cross-company initiative with a commitment to document, preserve and celebrate the planet, including the first-ever 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network scheduled to launch in 2008 to more than 50 million homes. Planet Green speaks to people who want to understand green living and to those who truly want to make a difference by providing tools and information to meet the critical challenge of protecting our environment. Planet Green's platforms include leading eco-lifestyle website and the recently launched solutions oriented Discovery will also launch Discovery Education Green, a K-12 service that hosts dynamic media content correlated to state standards. Discovery Education Green will help teachers integrate Green lessons into their curriculum and empowers students to make more environmentally conscious decisions.