Solar energy boom may help world's poorest
October 31, 2007 01:06 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - A surge in investment in solar power is bringing down costs of the alternative energy source, but affordability problems still dog hopes for the 1.6 billion people worldwide without electricity.
The sun supplies only a tiny fraction -- less than one tenth of 1 percent -- of mankind's energy needs. But its supporters believe a solar era may be dawning, boosted by western funding to combat oil "addiction" and climate change.
Governments from Japan to Germany and the United States are helping the public wean themselves off fossil fuels.
Tropical Storm Noel drenches Cuba, Bahamas
October 30, 2007 05:12 PM - By Anthony Boadle, reuters
HAVANA (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Noel weakened as it moved across northeastern Cuba on Tuesday and the storm that killed more than a dozen people in the Dominican Republic was not expected to become a hurricane as it neared the Bahamas.
Torrential rains drenched eastern Cuba, where double the average rainfall in October had reservoirs already filled to the brim and authorities worried about flooding. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.
"There's lots of rain but no really strong winds like a hurricane," said Chantal Rivas, owner of a bed and breakfast in the port of Gibara, 470 miles east of Havana.
Merkel asks India to do more on climate change
October 30, 2007 04:01 PM - Y.P. Rajesh, Reuters
NEW DELHI - German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged India, one of the world's biggest polluters, to do more to combat climate change on Tuesday, saying her country was willing to help New Delhi make progress. Merkel, a former environment minister who has pushed global warming to the top of her international agenda, said rich nations and emerging economies needed to strike a balance over the amount of responsibility they need to shoulder to prevent climate change and not fight over it. "We have to prove that we are willing to strike a balance," Merkel told business leaders in New Delhi during a four-day visit to India. "Multilateral agreements are of the essence."
Southeast drought leads to spat over lake
October 30, 2007 02:33 PM - Matthew Bigg, Reuters
LAKE LANIER, Georgia (Reuters) - A large, man-made lake in north Georgia is at the center of a political storm over how to distribute water resources between three states in the face of the region's worst drought in decades. Lake Lanier stands near the head of a watershed that feeds the booming city of Atlanta about 45 miles to the south, leading to accusations that the city is consuming more than its fair share of water.
Norway Upbeat on Backing for CO2 Storage Aid
October 30, 2007 10:17 AM - Reuters
Norway voiced confidence on Tuesday it would gain European Union support for plans to fund technology to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground, even if such projects breach the bloc's limits on public aid. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is seen as a way to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses blamed for global warming but projects are not economically viable without state aid.
More than dozen dead as storm drenches Hispaniola
October 29, 2007 10:02 PM - German Marte, Reuters
SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - More than a dozen people died in the Dominican Republic on Monday after Tropical Storm Noel dumped torrential rain on the Caribbean country, sending thigh-high water surging through streets and cutting power to thousands.
Hundreds of families were left homeless after the 14th named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season poured 10 to 30 inches of rain on the Dominican Republic and over the treeless hillsides of Haiti, its neighbor on the island of Hispaniola.
The head of the Dominican National Emergency Committee, retired Gen. Luis Luna Paulino, said 13 deaths had been confirmed.
He said there was a report of a family buried when their house collapsed on them and another of a family in a car killed by a falling wall. "If those two accidents are confirmed then the deaths climb to 18," he said.
German carmakers blast motorway speed limit idea
October 29, 2007 11:27 AM -
HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Imposing a standard speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on German motorways would have scant impact on the environment and only hurt domestic carmakers, the country's VDA auto industry group said on Monday.
"Such fixed speed limits would be an ecological zero-sum game and would damage the German auto sector," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement to Reuters.
Germany is unusual in that stretches of its motorways still have no speed limit, and the country's influential car industry has lobbied hard against any national rules.
Australian country life riven by drought, isolation
October 28, 2007 11:19 PM - Michael Byrnes, Reuters
CARAGABAL, Australia (Reuters) - In drought-hit lands of eastern Australia, the population of Caragabal is just 38, every shop is closed, water is trucked in, and a synthetic lawn at a bowling club is the last hope of survival for a dying town.
The town dam, which can store two years' supply, dried up years ago with the return of drought. As crops die for hundreds of miles around, the town's fate also seems doomed.
Last remaining locals have started to speak of the patch of plastic bowling green in reverential tones.
Indonesia monitors 3 active volcanoes; raises alerts
October 27, 2007 12:10 PM - Telly Nathalia, Reuters
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three volcanoes in Indonesia, including the one known as the "Child of Krakatau," are now under close watch following heightened activity, a senior volcano official said on Saturday.
Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised the alert on Mount Anak Krakatau to the second-highest level on Friday after it threw up showers of ash.
The volcano, which lies in the Sunda strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, is about 130 km west of the capital Jakarta. It gradually formed after the famous Krakatau volcano blew up in a massive eruption in 1883, triggering tsunamis and killing thousands of people.
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.