Climate

U.S. Air Force Turns to Alternative Fuel, Slashing CO2
October 27, 2007 11:44 AM - Jim Wolf, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's most powerful air force is seeking to wean itself from foreign oil and nearly zero out its carbon dioxide output as part of a sweeping alternative energy drive, a senior Pentagon official said on Friday.

By early 2011, the U.S. Air Force aims to make sure its entire fleet of bombers, fighters, transports and other aircraft can use a domestically produced 50-50 blend of synthetic and petroleum-based fuel.

William Anderson, an assistant Air Force secretary, said the goal was to reduce energy demand, look for cleaner power sources and to reuse captured carbon commercially, for instance to enhance the growth of biofuels or improve oil well production.

"We can get ourselves very close to a zero carbon footprint," said Anderson ahead of talks on the issue with counterparts in Britain and France next month.

"Not today. Not tomorrow. But maybe a decade or so down the road," he told a briefing at the State Department's Foreign Press Center.

Children kept indoors as Beijing fog turns to smog
October 26, 2007 12:17 PM -

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's weather office warned children and the elderly to stay indoors on Friday as heavy fog blanketed the host city of the 2008 Olympics, exacerbating its chronic air pollution, Chinese state media reported.

Fog caused severe delays at Beijing airport and reduced visibility in the centre of the city to less than 200 meters.

"The fog will not only affect the traffic but also harm humans' respiratory system. I suggest old people and children avoid going outdoors or wear a mask," Sun Jisong, the city's chief weatherman, told the official Xinhua news agency.

Sarkozy promises a green revolution for France
October 25, 2007 07:48 PM - James Mackenzie, reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy promised a green revolution on Thursday, unveiling a mix of tax measures and investment pledges that he said would put France in the vanguard of the war against global warming.

"France isn't late but France wants now to be in the lead," he said in a speech wrapping up a special environmental policy conference seeking ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help change attitudes to the environment.

The congress was one of the highest profile green initiatives ever launched in France and fulfilled an election campaign promise by Sarkozy, who has said his government will emphasize sustainable development.

U.N. says world in dire straits
October 25, 2007 07:42 PM - Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - Two decades after a landmark report sounded alarm bells about the state of the planet and called for urgent action to change direction, the world is still in dire straits, a U.N. agency said on Thursday.

While the U.N. Environment Program's fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) says action has been successfully taken in some regions and on some problems, the overall picture is one of sloth and neglect.

"The global trends on climate, on ozone, on indeed ecosystem degradation, fisheries, in the oceans, water supplies ... are still pointing downwards," UNEP head Achim Steiner said in a short film accompanying the report's release.

Agricultural soil erosion not adding to global warming
October 25, 2007 06:45 PM - University of California, Davis

Davis, California - Agricultural soil erosion is not a source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, according to research published online today (October 25) in the journal Science. The study was carried out by an international team of researchers from UC Davis, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and the University of Exeter in the U.K.  Carbon emissions are of great concern worldwide because they, and other greenhouse gases, trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and are a major cause of global climate change.

 

Huge Ash Cloud as Indonesia's Mount Soputan Erupts
October 25, 2007 08:13 AM - Reuters

JAKARTA - Mount Soputan volcano on the northern tip of Indonesia's Sulawesi island has erupted, throwing columns of ash 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) into the air, an official said on Friday.  Saut Simatupang, of Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, said that the eruption did not appear to pose an immediate threat to residents, although ash had reached the nearest town.

Japan Weather Seen Average to Milder in Nov-Jan
October 25, 2007 08:08 AM - Reuters

TOKYO - Japan will see mostly average to milder-than-average winter weather from November to January, the official forecaster Japan Meteorological Agency said on Thursday.  Japan's North, East, and West regions each stand a 40 percent chance of having average or milder-than-average weather in the three months from November, the agency said in its three-month outlook.

Environment Ministers Target 2009 Climate Treaty
October 25, 2007 08:01 AM - Reuters

BOGOR, Indonesia  - An informal meeting of environment ministers in Indonesia has accepted the need for negotiations on a new treaty to fight climate change to be wrapped up by 2009, a U.N. official said on Thursday. The gathering of environment ministers and officials from about 40 nations this week comes ahead of a key meeting in Bali in December aimed at hammering out a new global climate deal to curb carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Break in Weather Slows California Wildfires
October 25, 2007 07:56 AM - Reuters

LOS ANGELES- California wildfires that have destroyed 1,300 homes and forced the evacuation of 500,000 people raged into a fifth day on Thursday but firefighters seized on a break in the weather to largely halt the march of destruction.

Some 15 fires still blazed across the southern part of the state, lighting up the night sky, but officials said cooler temperatures and weaker winds allowed them to win a measure of control for the first time and that the worst was behind them.

Australian farmers face bankruptcy from drought
October 24, 2007 04:41 PM - Michael Byrnes

WEST WYALONG, Australia (Reuters) - Farmer John Ridley won't be harvesting so much as a bag of wheat this season from fields that stretch to the horizon as Australia's worst drought in 100 years takes its toll on the country's grain belt.

Beneath a cloudless sky, 60-year-old Ridley, a descendant of one of Australia's pioneering farming families, pulls a clump of brittle stubble from the dusty earth.

"It should be this high, waving green in the breeze," he says. "Farmers are in a stunned state at the moment. In a state of disbelief, shock, helplessness."

Ridley's farm is in the epicenter of devastation from the drought, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Sydney. Prime wheat growing territory, the district normally grows much of the wheat that makes Australia the world's second-biggest exporter. Yet this year the district will produce almost nothing.

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