ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news July 2nd - 6th: Live Earth, geothermal heating, desalinating sea water, weakening wolf protections, and much more.
Top Ten Articles of the Week
In the news July 2nd - 6th:
1. Rock Stars Tackle Cynics as Well as Climate Change
More famous for Learjets and limousines than green living, pop stars performing at Saturday's Live Earth environmental concerts face widespread cynicism from fans, commentators and campaigners alike. Built on the model of the Live Aid famine relief gigs of 1985 and Live 8 anti-poverty concerts in 2005, Live Earth aims to raise awareness about climate change and encourage people to live greener lives. There is little doubt that the shows, starting in Sydney and ending in Rio de Janeiro, will be the focus of the world's media, and millions of people, on the day.
2. The Hague Announces Project To Warm 4,000 Houses Using Geothermal Heating
The Dutch city of The Hague on Wednesday announced plans to use geothermal heating -- water from a hot well deep underground -- to warm 4,000 households and several industrial buildings, as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although the idea of using underground warmth to heat homes is not new, the plan would be the largest attempted in the Netherlands and is unusual in its design.
3. Texas Begins Desalinating Sea Water
On a one-acre site alongside a string of shrimp boats docked on the Brownsville ship channel stands a $2.2 million assembly of pipes, sheds, and humming machinery -- Texas' entree into global efforts to make sea water suitable to drink. Opening a small spigot at the end of a fat pipe, plant operator Joel del Rio fills a plastic glass with what he says will taste "like regular bottled water." "Sea water," he said. "It's never gonna run out."
4. UN Chief Tells Business Leaders To Do More To Fight Climate Change
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told business leaders Thursday they must do more to reverse climate change. "Certainly we have made some progress in implementing the Global Compact's principles," Ban told the opening of a U.N.-sponsored summit of corporate leaders, politicians and advocacy groups that have signed on to the so-called Global Compact. "But it is still uneven," he said.
5. U.S. Agency Moves on Plan to Kill Wolves
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to make it easier to kill wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains to protect other wildlife and domesticated animals. Terry Cleveland, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, calls the federal proposal a meaningful step that will help the state protect its elk herds. But Jenny Harbine, an environmental lawyer in Montana who tracks wolf issues, says the proposed rule could result in the slaughter of hundreds of wolves by aerial gunning and other means.
6. World Bank Says Pollution Kills 460,000 Chinese a Year
About 460,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air and drinking dirty water, according to a World Bank study. The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that the Chinese government, the bank's partner in the research project, had asked the lender not to publish the estimates for fear they could trigger social unrest.
7. Hurricanes May Aid Stressed Coral
Corals stressed by warming conditions may benefit from the passage of a hurricane -- as long as it doesn't slam right into them. Bleaching of corals has been a growing problem in recent years with the loss of algae or reduction of pigment in the living corals that occurs when they are stressed by warming water. Now, a team of researchers led by Derek P. Manzello of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that hurricanes mix the warm surface water and colder deep water enough to lower the temperature as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. EU Seeks Biofuel Imports, Environment Standards Too
The European Union signalled on Thursday it was ready to ramp up imports of biofuels from countries such as Brazil but warned producers it expected strict environmental standards to be met. The 27-nation EU set itself a target in March for biofuels to make up at least 10 percent of vehicle fuels by 2020 as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. But critics say growing crops for fuel may contribute to destruction of rainforests and raise food prices.
9. UN Official Says Cuba Has Solved Its Energy Crisis Without Sacrificing Its Environment
Cuba has solved crippling energy shortages that plagued the island as recently as 2004 without sacrificing a long-term commitment to promoting environmentally friendly fuels, the head of the U.N. Environment Program said Wednesday. The electric grid still relies too heavily on wasteful gas-flare reactors and heavy polluting diesel generators, but the communist government has taken important steps toward developing wind and solar power, as well as ethanol from sugar cane, said Achim Steiner, the program's executive director.
10. Live Earth's First Green Test: Clean Up Own Mess
Live Earth concerts on Saturday meant to spur action to fight global warming must first tackle another environmental hazard -- mountains of trash and thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases caused by the events. "We want to set a new global standard for dealing with waste and recycling," said John Rego, environmental adviser for the eight concerts meant to rock the world around the clock on a rolling basis from Sydney to New York and organised by an alliance led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.