Climate & Energy

Solar-panel manufacturers dumping toxic waste in China

Solar panels may look bright and shiny, but they have a dark underbelly: production of polysilicon for panels gives off a highly toxic byproduct called silicon tetrachloride. In China, where factories are rushing to alleviate a polysilicon shortage that’s cramping the global solar-panel industry, the bubbly white liquid is often just dumped in nearby villages. “The land where you dump or bury [silicon tetrachloride] will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place,” says a material-sciences expert at Hebei Industrial University. “It is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it.” While silicon tetrachloride can …

Queen Elizabeth II encourages environmental protection

In her annual Commonwealth Day speech on Monday, Queen Elizabeth II had unusually pointed words regarding environmental protection. “The impact of pollution falls unequally,” she said. “It is often those who pollute the least — notably in the world’s least-developed nations — who are closest to the razor’s edge and most affected by the impact of climate change and least equipped to cope with it.” She encouraged all Commonwealthers to contribute to solving the crisis. “Whatever we do, wherever we live, our actions in defense of the environment can have a real and positive effect upon the lives of others, …

Face It: No coal

Students create body paint images for anti-coal contest

Emily Bibler. Photo: Architecture 2030. Architecture and design students across the country were challenged by Architecture 2030, Metropolis Magazine, the USGBC and the AIAStudents to face it, literally. Students competed to produce the best body- and face-paint image that conveyed a "no coal" message. Emily Bibler of Ohio Iowa State won the Face Color Award, Jackie Fabella of Cal Poly Pomona won the Face B+W Award, and Miles Courtney of Pratt Institute won the Body Award. Jackie Fabella's image will be featured in a full-page ad in the March issue of Metropolis magazine titled "Choose." These and other images will be used throughout the year to spread the word. A student's comment to Metropolis:

Screwing with the planet, but on purpose this time

Geo-engineering: cooking up solutions just like nature used to make

Geoengineering may be an awful idea for reversing the warming effects of climate change, but it sure makes for a sweet subject of satire, à la this retro-style informational video. Like they say, “If you can’t fix the problem, techno-fix the problem!” After all, technology will save the world. Because we know everything there is to know about the planet and all. Not to mention what happens when we mess with it. So, instead of cleaning up and trimming the world’s energy glut, let’s focus on dumping SO2 into the atmosphere to stop global warming. We probably wouldn’t get literally …

Cape Wind comments

Agency holds hearings for Massachusetts wind project, extends comment period 30 days

Heads up! The Minerals Management Service is extending the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for Cape Wind for an additional 30 days, until April 21. Leave your loving or loathing feedback here or attend one of four hearings this week in Mass. and give your opinion in person: Monday, March 10, West Yarmouth Tuesday, March 11, Nantucket Wednesday, March 12, Martha's Vineyard Thursday, March 13, Boston There's sure to be a "festive" atmosphere at each of these events! Plan on hearing about more guerrilla theater by Cape Wind proponents, all dressed up like Kennedys for a fine day of yachting on Nantucket Sound.

Monday linkfest

My browser’s getting crowded. Time for a link dump! Yes! magazine has an entire issue devoted to climate change. There’s tons to see, with good pieces from Bill McKibben and Peter Barnes, but I particularly liked this hopeful rundown of solutions. It’s odd that I love reading about solutions but I don’t write about them much. Not sure why that is. Remember how the Bush administration spent 7.5 years battling and thwarting binding carbon emissions treaties and then said, less than a year from the end of Bush’s term, that it was open to such a treaty? Good times. Ed …

E.U. report warns of increased security threats due to climate change

A new report from the European Union’s two top foreign-policy officials warns of a wide range of security threats that will be caused or exacerbated by climate change. The report echoes the concerns of earlier U.S. and U.K. reports, warning of “significant potential conflicts” over energy resources, climate-related mass migration, economic instability, and more. A growing rich-poor and north-south divide is forecast in the E.U. report, caused by resentment over richer countries having released far more climate-changing greenhouse gases and poorer countries bearing the brunt of the effects. The thawing Arctic is another potential flashpoint, according to the report, as …

Southern Baptist leaders urge action on climate change

Photo: iStockphoto Over 40 prominent Southern Baptist leaders released a statement Monday urging action against climate change, asserting that “the time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.” The declaration is a notable departure from a statement released after the denomination’s 2007 annual meeting that questioned human impacts on climate change. “We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice,” the new declaration says. “Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless, and ill-informed. …

Crude oil at $130 this year? And $150 next year?

Rising cost of oil pushes value of the dollar down

Bloomberg reports: Crude oil may reach a record $130 a barrel this year because pension funds are investing more in commodities, said Pierre Andurand, the chief investment officer of BlueGold Capital Management LLP, a hedge fund ... "Next year, oil may rise even further to $150 a barrel." Okay, this is a hedge fund guy who is betting the ranch on oil and probably doing his part to drive up prices. But at the end of the day, this is an issue of fundamentals -- supply and demand: Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc are finding it tougher to replace their findings and are drilling for harder-to-reach deposits while energy demand and crude prices surge to records. Another little-discussed factor in the run-up of oil prices is the run-down of the dollar, and with it, U.S. living standards compared to the rest of the world. Thank you so much, President Bush!

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