Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How to Choose a Surfboard for your Dog

In honor of my puppy Omar's 8th birthday, I've dedicated this post to him (albeit he's a bit afraid of waves).


Want to take your canine buddy surfing with you? Plenty of keen surfers do; it just takes a little patience in teaching your dog, as long as your dog is willing to try it out. Fortunately, today's modern surf doggy has many options when choosing the right board. This article discusses a progression through which you can encourage your dog to use different types of surfboards to surf either individually, or in tandem with you.

  1. Start with a boogie board. Boogie boards have the speed and maneuverability that a dog may be able to maneuver better. It is small and a dog tends to feel that it can control it better, so this is the best board to start your dog with.
  2. Get a soft top. Hard fiberglass resin boards are tough for a dog to grip. If you do use a resin top, reduce the slipperiness by putting on a deck patch, which is some rough material glued to the surface of the board. However, it will still be hard for your dog to stay on. Foam soft top boards works better for dogs because they can get a grip by digging in their claws to get more traction and stay on top.

  3. Try moving to a longboard. As your dog progresses from the boogie board, a longer board allows for more margin of error. Your dog can navigate from the nose of the board. It is also great for tandem surfing with you, as your dog can grip on to the board at the nose and get better traction with the claws.

  4. Rock on. The more curvature to the board, the easier it is for your dog balance on the wave. The older boogie boards tend to have more curve, are softer, and are better for dogs to balance on. The newer ones are very flat. You might be able to pick up older ones from online auctions or used surfboard dealers.
  5. Be prepared for chewing. Your dog will become attached to its favorite board and in response, will probably chew it. Expect it, along with all the claw marks from digging in. See it as your dog modifying the board for its own personal use. And in other words, if it's your prize board and you don't want bite or claw marks in it, don't use it with Fido!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rebuilding a River

Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. This small event (the fire was put on in under 30 minutes and damages were around $50,000) became the symbol of how polluted our waterways had become. It lead to the establishment of the Clean Water Act of 1977.

Having lived a few years along side the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I can personally attest to how beautiful the river is and how far it has come. It is amazing when given the chance how fast nature can heal herself.

For more information, PBS is airing a great program entitled "The Return of the Cuyahoga".

Let's celebrate the 40th anniversary as a testament of how far we have come with the water quality in this country and remember there are rivers, lakes, and bays out there (e.g. the Anacostia and the Chesapeake) that still need our help!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Reasons to Love Australia!

I wish governments in the States would recognize the importance of protecting our beaches from development not just for surfing, but as important ecosystems necessary to protecting our coastlines.


Surfers have always worshiped the world's best waves, but who knew the Australian government honored historic surf spots? On June 6, Killalea was officially recognized as a national surfing reserve, making it the fifth of its kind in New South Wales and the seventh in Australia. The purpose of identifying these sites is to both legally protect them and to spread awareness about the necessity of preserving the area. Not only that, but the reserves honor the relationship between the sport and the local culture.

Killalea’s popular breaks, The Farm and Mystics, are part of the 3.5km stretch of coast that will be protected. The area, which already belongs to a State Park, was recognized not only for the quality of surf but also for its natural beauty. During the ceremony to dedicate the national reserve, a booklet describing the history of surfing in the region was presented along with a plaque to commemorate the newly protected spot. More than 150 people attended the event, including 70 members of the Killalea family that historically farmed the area.

However, not everybody celebrated the site’s new recognition. The dedication was disputed by some who claim the measure was merely a distraction from the development of an eco-resort at Killalea that may be detrimental to the surf spots.

The first surfing reserve in New South Wales was Angourie, a point break that was dedicated in January of 2007 for its legendary waves. Since the 1970’s surfers have flocked to the destination that was originally a meeting place for local Aborigines.

Other surfing reserves in the state include south Sydney’s Cronulla Beach; Crescent Head, which became a popular spot after World War II and has been dominated by long boarders ever since; and Lennox, which was chosen because of its prominent role in the Australian surf history.

Cultural, historical, and environmental factors contribute to the selection of new surfing reserves, which are preserved for public use under the Crown Lands Act of 1989. Right now, there are 24 sites in New South Wales that have been suggested for dedication.

For information about an organization that creates similar reserves around the world click here.

Creative Ways to Recycle: Reuseable Sandwich Bags

I absolutely hate washing out and drying Ziploc(r) bags and I can't imagine it being anyone's favorite thing to do. So, today I stumbled across some inventive ways to make your own reusable (and stylish) bags.
From The Party Dress blog:

Here’s the how-to:
1. Cut a rectangle approximately 8 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ out of oilcloth with pinking shears or sharp scissors.
2. Turn edges under 1/4″ and stitch with machine.
3. With wrong sides facing each other, fold over oilcloth leaving 2-1/2″ of extra material for the flap.
4. Stitch along sides to form the pocket.
5. Attach velcro on flap and pocket of bag.
6. Enjoy your reusable sandwich bag and hand wash with soap and water.

CraftStylish also has some easy-to-follow directions using polyurethane laminated fabrics (i.e. table cloth material - great use for an old table cloth!)

You can also check out ehow for Reusable Sandwich Wrap directions.

Not feeling crafty? Check out these sites:
  • The Reusable Fresh Snack Pack is washable and see-through. As a plus, the flap can fold out to become a handy place mat.
  • Dajo Bags come in sandwich and snack sizes (a cute drawstring style) that look like they'd fit anybody's lunch needs.
  • 3 Green Moms offer the lunch skins which can hold both sandwiches and snacks in one convenient size.
  • Snack Taxi is another sandwich style bag that comes in a variety of colors.
  • Wrap-N-Mat unfolds completely for easy cleaning and to act as a place mat while eating.
  • Happy Sacks offers a variety of different reusable and biodegradable bags, as well as boxes, utensils and bottles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tell Your Representative: Take Action Now for a Clean Energy Economy!

Click here to be directed to the Clean Water Action's site that easily allows you to contact your Representative about supporting The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009!

New Report: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

From The White House blog:
TUESDAY, JUNE 16TH, 2009 AT 1:28 PM

Streaming Now: Climate Change Impacts Across America -- Renewed Focus for Decisions

Posted by Anne Waple
Ed. Note: Watch the release of the report now at

Report CoverToday, the White House helped to launch a new science report representing a consensus of 13 agencies developed over a year and half and focused on potential climate change impacts on the United States.

It’s the most comprehensive report to date on the possible impacts of climate change for everyone across America, and begins an important process of redefining the sort of information we need in order to deal with climate change at national and regional scales. Effectively managing our response to a changing climate falls into two general categories:

1) Implementing measures to limit climate change and therefore avoid many of the impacts discussed in the report. These measures must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and might include increasing our reliance on clean energy, and developing energy efficient technologies
2) Reducing our vulnerability and increasing our resilience to ongoing climate change in pro-active, community-based ways. Examples of this include such measures as developing more climate-sensitive building codes to keep people out of harm’s way, or planting more drought or heat tolerant crops, for example.
As a first step in reducing the impact of climate change, we need to know what impacts we must avoid in the future, and this report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States", does just that– outlining the possible direction of climate change under two broad scenarios: the first if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions aggressively, and the second, if we are less aggressive. These are neither the highest or lowest possible scenarios but begin to compare the possible futures for the U.S.
An important element of this new report, apart from that it is deliberately written in plain language so we can all read and understand the science in it, is that it dives down in the various regions of the U.S. and provides much more regional detail about possible impacts than ever before – critical information for an effective response. It also breaks down the potential climate change impacts by economic and social sectors, most of which transcend regional boundaries, such as water, energy, health, transportation, and agriculture – all vital components of a healthy and stable society.
Report Cover
The report notes climate change impacts that we are already seeing across the U.S. as well as those that will soon emerge or become more intense if action is slow to occur. Some of the impacts that the report mentions are:
· More rain is already coming in very heavy events, and this is projected to increase across the nation. This would have impacts on transportation, agriculture, water quality, health, and more;
· Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life, especially in cities;
· Warming will decrease demand for heating energy in winter and increase demand for cooling energy in summer. The latter will increase peak electricity demand in most regions;
· Water resources will be stressed in many regions. For example, snowpack is declining in the West, and there is an increasing probability of drought in the Southwest, while floods and water quality issues are likely to be more of a problem in most regions;
· In coastal communities, sea-level rise and storm surge will increase threats to homes and infrastructure including water, sewer, transportation and communication systems.
Gulf Coast Area Roads at Risk from Sea-Level Rise
Gulf Coast Area Roads at Risk from Sea-Level Rise
Through identifying the climate change impacts we are experiencing now, as well as those that are emerging faster than we thought, and those projected to increase in the future, the report clearly highlights the choices we face regarding possible response options to reduce the impacts of climate change across the United States.
Responses to climate change impacts in the United States will almost certainly evolve over time as we learn through experience. Determining and refining the responses will involve partnerships between scientists, policymakers, the public, private industry, communities, and decision-makers at all levels. Implementing these response strategies will require careful planning and continual feedback on the impacts of policies for government, industry, and society.
More of the report’s findings are located at , which is the new home of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the interagency Government program that commissioned the report. The report was led by NOAA.

Dr. Anne Waple is with the US Global Change Research Program


From the Politicker NJ:

Measure Would Focus Research on Acidification Threatening Oceans, Marine Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Legislation authored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to focus research on rising ocean acidity was recently signed into law by President Obama. Ocean acidification harms marine life and poses serious risks to the fishing industry.

"Ocean acidification is a serious threat to our environment and to our marine life," said Sen. Lautenberg. "Changes in ocean chemistry, caused by carbon dioxide, will affect our food supply and the health of our oceans, yet research on ocean acidification is still in its infancy. This new law will provide the needed research to analyze and address the environmental and economic impacts of ocean acidification."

Increased carbon dioxide emissions are causing oceans to become more acidic. Ocean acidity has increased 30 percent in the last 100 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also projects that, by the end of this century, current levels of carbon dioxide emissions would result in the lowest levels of ocean pH in 20 million years. Lower levels of ocean pH signify higher levels of ocean acidification.

Oceans require a balanced pH to maintain water quality favorable to marine life. If oceans become too acidic, the shells of scallops, clams, crabs, plankton, corals and other marine life begin to dissolve. In New Jersey, sea scallops and clams are some of the state's most valuable fisheries, valued at $121 million, according to NOAA.

Sen. Lautenberg's measure, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FOARAM), will require a committee of federal agencies led by NOAA to coordinate research and monitoring of acidification of our oceans, develop a national plan to assess the environmental and economic impacts, and recommend solutions. The measure will also establish an ocean acidification program in NOAA - the federal agency with primary responsibility for preserving the health of our oceans and marine life.

The new law is based on a bill from last Congress sponsored by Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and was co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

The measure received support from environmental and conservation groups including the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the Climate Institute, Environmental Defense, Gulf Restoration Network, Ocean Conservancy, Coastal States Organization, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

The bill also was supported by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) representing 95 academic institutions and universities; the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) - the world's largest professional organization devoted to the study of aquatic science; and the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) representing about 120 coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes laboratories.

In 2007, Sen. Lautenberg authored a provision in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill to direct funds to the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the acidification of the oceans and how this process affects the United States. Sen. Lautenberg has also authored provisions to research and protect deep sea corals, another habitat threatened by ocean acidification. Those provisions became law in January 2007 as part of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006.

Quote of the Day

"Humans are the only species that can savage the environment. And we are the only species that can save it."

- from The Return of the Cuyahoga

Monday, June 15, 2009

Will Boredom Kill Us?

I found a great editorial in The Sydney Morning Herald which pretty much sums up my fears and views on the climate debate:

Maybe we're all too bored to bother saving the planet

June 13, 2009

Boredom is going to kill us. Wait. Too dramatic. Let me put it more boringly. Boredom, and our collective inability to endure it, is going to compromise our capacity to tackle the challenges of our age in a way that is productive and conducive to progress in our society.

For more than a century, thinkers have been writing about how modern life, with its endless stimulations, actually makes boredom worse - and less easily tolerated. When the boom of the 1920s was busting, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about this, focusing on the blah of waiting hours for a train.

If only he knew how bad things would become a lifetime later. Train commuters now have to endure the tedium of watching a blue monitor as they wait as the estimated time of arrival flicks down to three minutes, then back up to four, then back down to three. All that the commuter can do to ease this torture is check emails on a mobile, skim newspaper stories about the spat between Gordon Ramsay and Tracy Grimshaw, return missed phone calls and slurp coffee from a paper cup.

Boredom has always struck the most fortunate, people with plenty to keep them occupied. In Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Anna's lover, Vronsky, finds himself restless and dissatisfied right when his desires are fulfilled, when he is swanning around Europe in freedom with his lady love.

"It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realisation of their desires," Tolstoy writes. He describes boredom, or ennui, its more glamorous and chronic cousin, as the "desire for desires".

Are we all like this now? Easily over it? Crippled by the attention span of gnats? How ironic it is that in the very era of impatience and shrunken attention spans, the world has been confronted with a dilemma like climate change.

It is like a test God has sent us to remind us we're idiots, because it is a problem modern society is uniquely unsuited to fixing: the worst consequences are a long way off, and we don't care about a long way off, and the solutions are dull, and we don't care about dull.

If climate change could be solved with a sell out-charity concert and natty fund-raising ribbons, we'd be sorted. But it doesn't. It requires immediate action of a complex and boring nature. Negotiations over trading and credits and prices per tonne and projections. Just yesterday I fell asleep reading that the State Government has stalled on the issue of bonuses for rooftop solar panels, unsure of whether to grant home owners a gross tariff or a net tariff.

Have you noticed that when climate change activists have got into trouble for misrepresenting the issue, it is usually because they are trying to shape global warming into an issue more suited to our attention-deficit times? Appropriating the genre of before-and-after snaps of the gossip mags, only substituting melted faces with melted glaciers? Trouble over illustrating the issue of melting ice caps with sad photos of polar bears stranded on icebergs, as if climate change has robbed them of the ability to swim. Or trouble over turning disasters such as hurricane Katrina into news hooks, to show huge consequences are already upon us.

The trouble is not the lack of hard evidence but that hard evidence tends to be technical and unphotogenic, and not many media outlets do technical and unphotogenic these days.

In fact, if I was working on a public relations strategy on behalf of climate-change denialists or the fossil fuels industry, I would be concentrating on making the issue so complicated and dry that it loses traction in the wider community. Maybe this is happening already.

Sometimes spin is about sexing up an issue, but the reverse can be true. Spin can mean putting lipstick on a pig. It can also mean hiding a time bomb in a bucket of slops. I am reminded of this every time I get a letter from my bank saying its policies have changed, almost always to the detriment of the customer. The bank hides the nasty details in a little grey brochure, alongside tiny technical changes, so only the extremely vigilant look before chucking it.

Powerful interests can abuse our fear of boredom, just as effectively as they can abuse our desire for sensationalism. Maybe we have a civic duty to push through the boredom barrier.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Report blames petroleum industry for 25% of toxic pollutants

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US petroleum industry accounted for a quarter of toxic pollutants recorded across North America in 2005 by a government-backed environmental watchdog, an annual report said on Wednesday.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) -- created by Canada, the United States and Mexico -- said 90 percent of toxic pollutants came from just over a dozen industries.

Aside from oil and gas extraction, mining, wastewater treatment, electric utilities and chemical manufacturing are named as the principle offenders.

"Ninety percent of the 5.5 billion kilograms of toxic pollutant releases and transfers reported in North America in 2005 can be traced to just 30 substances from 15 industrial sectors across the United States, Canada and Mexico," it said.

The US petroleum industry reported 1.5 billion kilograms "of toxic pollutants reported by all sectors in 2005" the CEC said.

"Analysis of 2002-2005 reporting by Canadian and US petroleum refineries and bulk storage terminals discloses that, on average, about seven million kilograms of carcinogens and developmental or reproductive toxicants were released annually.

"Most of these pollutants were released to air and water."

Adrian Vazquez-Galvez, the body's executive director said the report "presents the clearest view ever of industrial pollution in North America."

But, he admitted, the picture was incomplete, with difference in reporting standards across industries and the three countries involved.

"(The report) reveals some major blind spots," Vazquez-Galvez said.

"This information is critical to government, industry, and communities, and highlights issues of comparability and areas for further action on pollution reduction to address potential environmental and human health issues," he said.

Is Anyone Even Listening?

Over the last few months, the majority of major news outlets have been running stories on climate change and it's impacts on the environment, people, and the economy. ABC recently ran a two-hour program entitled Earth 2100 on the combined effects of climate change, a collapsing economy, and other factors we currently see going on in the world.

I had to wonder though, is anyone even listening?

Climate change is a natural occurring phenomena on this planet. We know the planet goes through periods of ice ages and thaws. One of the best-documented ice ages occurred from 850 to 630 million years ago and may have led to a permanent ice cover over the entire globe. What is thought to have ended it? The accumulation of greenhouse gases produced by volcanoes. That is all well and good for the Earth. We know she will be fine and will be here until our Sun ceases to be. It's the humans, being at the top of the food chain, we have to worry about.

Big industry cares what the government decides what will be the future of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. They paint a doomsday scenario of our economy collapsing further if such legislation is passed, a second great depression. Well what is the economic impact if we do nothing? What if we continue on our full-throttle consumption and polluting without any regard?

Other than big industry, the second group that is listening is those who do not think humans can have an impact on the earth. My question is how could we not? A good friend of mine suggested an experiment for these skeptics: turn your car on, shut the garage door, and see what the effects are to your environment. A bit drastic, but it gets the point across. Actions have consequences.

The most interesting human-impact story, thanks to Bill Bryon's A Short History of Nearly Everything, is about Mr. Clair Patterson. In the 50s, he was trying to determine the age of the Earth by determining the age of lead in meteorites. However he encountered all sorts of atmospheric lead that threw off his results. He eventually created a "clean" environment and was able to successfully determine our planet's age. He then turned his attention to all this lead in the atmosphere. Mr. Patterson collected samples of ice cores, the first person to do this, to determine the concentrations of lead over the centuries. His result? Lead concentrations had increased 1000 times from the introduction of leaded fuel in 1923. Lead, as you know, being a heavy metal has serious impacts on health and development as well as sticks around for a while. After many negative encounters with pro-leaded fuel companies, Mr. Patterson, in 1986, was able to get leaded fuel banned in this country and helped establish the Clean Air Act of 1970 Quickly lead levels in the blood of Americans dropped by 80%. Even so, today we have 625 times more lead in our blood than did people before leaded gasoline (read more here).

Did this pollution affect the Earth? Yes. But, the consequences of our actions affected and are continuing to affect the health of humans.

On ABC's Earth 2100, they use a frog in a pot of water analogy: A frog placed in a cold pot of water cannot detect the small changes in water temperature as it is being heated and never realizes that he is being cooked until it is too late.

What is it going to take for people to wake-up and realize this is going on? Will it be too late? All I can cling to is the hope that people will indeed start listening and act before it's too late.

Monday, June 8, 2009

So Glad This is Getting So Much Media Attention

From Reuters:

Menaces to oceans: CO2, plastic bags, overfishing

The world's seas are filled with too much garbage and too few fish with flimsy plastic bags and government subsidies bearing much of the blame, activists and trade officials said Monday on the first U.N. World Oceans Day.

The World Trade Organization's director-general, Pascal Lamy, used the occasion to note that some species are at risk of extinction from overfishing, and government subsidies bear some of the blame.

"Governments have contributed to this problem by providing nearly $16 billion annually in subsidies to the fisheries sector," Lamy said. "This support keeps more boats on the water and fewer fish in the sea.

He said WTO members are now negotiating to reform subsidies programs to make fishing a sustainable industry.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk echoed those sentiments, saying the United States is pushing for stronger rules against "harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing."

Eighty percent of the world's fisheries are under pressure, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.

Global fisheries subsidies are estimated at $20 billion or more annually, an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the value of the world catch. Economic losses from overfishing in marine areas are $50 billion a year, according to a 2008 World Bank/FAO report.

"International trade can play a key role in protecting the world's oceans," Courtney Sakai of the group Oceana said in a statement reacting to Lamy's and Kirk's comments. "The WTO is in the unlikely position of producing one of the most significant actions to stop global overfishing."


In addition to overfishing, the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change also combine with sea water to form carbonic acid, a corrosive substance that eats away at the shells of mollusks and corals.

Last week, as international climate negotiators gathered in Bonn, Germany, 70 of the world's major science academies reported that ocean acidification was so dangerous that it could be irreversible for thousands of years.

The academies urged those bargaining for a world agreement to stem global warming into take account the risks to the oceans in working on a new U.N. treaty to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The U.N. Environment Program and the Ocean Conservancy marked the day with a report on marine litter, from discarded fishing gear to cigarette butts to plastic bags, which the environment program's director called signs of systemic waste.

"Marine litter is symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources," said Achim Steiner, U.N. under-secretary-general and UNEP Executive Director.

The ubiquitous flimsy plastic shopping bag is a particularly nettlesome problem, said the environment program's spokesman, Nick Nuttall.

In a telephone interview from Nairobi, Nuttall said that "these rather pointless flimsy plastic bags, which serve little or no purpose except to choke the oceans and the environment" should be banned or taxed to kick-start recycling efforts.

Last December, the United Nations designated June 8 as World Oceans Day, more than 16 years after it was first proposed at an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

It's World Oceans Day!

It's great to see CNN jumping in on the plight of our oceans:

Ocean trash problem 'far from being solved,' U.N. says

Trash clutters the world's oceans, as shown here near Hong Kong.

Trash clutters the world's oceans, as shown here near Hong Kong.

The world's oceans are full of trash, causing "tremendous" negative impacts on coastal life and ecology, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

The oceans will continue to fill up with junk discarded from cities and boats without urgent action to address this buildup of marine debris, the United Nations Environment Programme says in a report titled "Marine Litter: A Global Challenge."

Current efforts to address the problem are not working, and the issue is "far from being solved," the report says.

"There is an increasingly urgent need to approach the issue of marine litter through better enforcement of laws and regulations, expanded outreach and educational campaigns, and the employment of strong economic instruments and incentives," the report says.

"Although a number of countries have taken steps at the national level to deal with marine litter, the overall situation is not improving."

Scientists have been watching trash pile up in the world's oceans for about a half-century, when plastics came into widespread use. Since plastics don't biodegrade, or do so very slowly, the trash tends to remain in the ocean, where circling currents collect the material in several marine "garbage patches." See a map of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch »

One of these trashy areas is said to be roughly the size of Texas. The water in these at-sea landfills is thick like a plastic soup, oceanographers told CNN.

The trash patches are located in "very remote parts of the ocean where hardly anyone goes, except the occasional research vessel," said Peter Niiler, a distinguished researcher and oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Plastics and cigarette butts are the most common types of ocean litter, with plastic making up about 80 percent of the ocean trash collected in some areas of the world, a U.N. news release says.

The ocean litter is a problem for coastal communities, which rely on clean beaches for tourism dollars and to boost quality of life for their residents, the report says. Ocean trash also affects marine life and degrades human health.

Sea turtles, for example, think plastic grocery bags are jellyfish when the bags are floating in the ocean. An untold number of the turtles and other creatures, such as Hawaii's endangered monk seal, swallow the bags and suffocate, drown or starve, said Holly Bamford, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine debris program.

Birds face similar issues when they eat pieces of plastic out of the water. In the North Sea, a survey found 94 percent of fulmars, a type of seabird, had plastics in their stomachs, the U.N. report says. The birds, on average, had about 34 pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

A surprising amount of trash that ends up in the ocean starts on the land, the report says. In Australia, for instance, a survey found 80 percent of ocean trash starts on the land.

One of the key questions for people interested in ocean trash is how much of it is out there, but Monday's U.N. report does not solve that mystery.

The U.N. says little is known about the extent of litter in the oceans, and more data is needed for the problem to be adequately addressed.

"This deficiency, in combination with the lack of specific legislation, adequate law enforcement and funding, are the primary reasons why the problem of marine litter is far from being solved," the report says.

"Unless effective action is taken, the global marine litter problem will only continue to worsen in the years to come."

The report does suggest several solutions, among them:

  • Countries and regions should adopt long-term plans to prevent litter from ending up in the oceans.
  • Countries should monitor marine litter using international standards and methodologies.
  • Ports should encourage fishing boats not to discard nets at sea.
  • Efforts to reduce marine litter should get more funding.

Volunteer efforts try to address the issue now, and the Ocean Conservancy says it organizes the largest of these.

Last year, 400,000 volunteers from more than 100 countries picked up 6.8 million pounds of trash from beaches, preventing it from harming the ocean, said Tom McCann, a spokesman for the group.

"It's entirely preventable," he said of the problem. "It's something we can solve ourselves."

McCann said people can prevent trash from ending up in the ocean by making smarter choices about the products they buy.

Some of the Ocean Conservancy's recommendations include:

  • Buy products with smart packaging that doesn't create excess waste.
  • Use alternatives to plastic such as cloth grocery bags and reusable bottles.
  • Don't litter. Trash can make its way from the interior of a continent into the oceans via rivers and the wind.
  • Volunteer with the International Coastal Cleanup, held on September 19 this year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

China's Ban on Plastic Bags Saved 1.6M Tons of Oil

From The Guardian:

Banning flimsy plastic bags has been dismissed as a drop in the ocean when it comes to dealing with the world's environment problems, but multiplied on a China scale, it appears to have made a big difference.

A new report suggests restrictions on bag usage in the world's most populous nation have saved the equivalent of 1.6 million tonnes of oil, in the year since it was introduced.

Just ahead of the first anniversary of the ban, the China Chain Store and Franchise Association estimated it had saved the country 40 billion plastic bags.

According to their survey, plastic bag use has fallen by two thirds as consumers grow accustomed to bringing their own reusable bags.

The ban was introduced on 1 June 2008 to reduce "white pollution" – the popular term for plastic bags and styrofoam packaging. Under the new rules, the state forbade production of ultra-thin bags under 0.025mm thick and ordered supermarkets to stop giving away free carriers.

That surprise move – which went further than anything done by the US, the UK and many other developed nations – was hailed by Greenpeace, Earthwatch and other green groups as a sign of growing environmental awareness in China. It also lead to the closure of the state's biggest plastic bag manufacturer.

Although the ban is often flouted, particularly at street stalls and small shops, it is widely praised for helping to change attitudes.

"It has made an impression," said recent graduate Xuyang Jingjing. "I see more people carrying 'green bags' to supermarkets these days. But I think if the government really wants people to stop using plastic bags, it should have the shops giving out green bags for free."

But there is a long way to go. China produces a million tonnes of rubbish a day with the volume looks set to rise.

DC Council Unanimously Approves Bag Use Fee!!!

Today the DC City Council unanimously approved the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009!

"Wherever the fault lies, the fact of the matter is our country's becoming inundated with plastic bags and plastic bottles," said council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat. "This is a first step to try to address that issue."

A second vote will be necessary before it goes to Mayor Fenty for his signature, but with the unanimously passing it looks like smooth sailing!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Waxman-Mackey Climate Bill Passes Committee!

This is the first piece of legislation I've followed closely and thanks so some diligent folks on Twitter (#climatebill) I was able to see each amendment get voted on. Wow! This is going to continue to be a hugely contested bill and but is definitely a step in the right direction.

Steven Pearlstein at the Washington Post summed it up the best:

The Waxman-Markey bill may be the best bill that the political system can produce, and surely it is far preferable to doing nothing. But now that we know what a climate-change bill looks like when it is jury-rigged to accommodate all the special interests, maybe Americans will be willing to reconsider one of the cleaner, simpler approaches -- a carbon tax with all the revenue rebated to households, for example, or a cap-and-trade system that generates enough revenue to erase the national debt, or even a tough new regulatory regime requiring businesses to produce more fuel-efficient cars, buildings and appliances.

It's not too late to change our minds.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trash Free Anacostia!

The vote for B18-150, the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 is coming up quickly! Clean Water Action has made it very easy to contact the DC City Council and urge them to pass this legislation! Just follow the link and add any additional comments you'd like to send!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monsanto: Corrupting 4-H'ers?

I had many good years in the 4-H organization, so I'm going to hate being the bearer of unhappy tiding. This just came up on the Facebook story links and I wish I knew this was coming so close; I'd love to be there to ask the "tough" questions.
Maryland 4-H Members Inspired by Monsanto Mobile Technology Unit

On April 7, 26 Montgomery County, MD; 4-H members and volunteers were invited to tour Monsanto's Mobile Technology Unit (MTU) on a one-day stop in Washington, D.C. Monsanto and the USDA partnered to provide this educational tour of the Monsanto MTU, a unique showcase of agricultural science and innovation for invited VIP's and legislators and local 4-H and FFA members.

Representing Maryland were members of three Montgomery County 4-H groups: the Lucky Clovers 4-H Club, the Back in Time 4-H Ag Science group, and the Horticulture Project group of the Damascus Community 4-H Club.
The Mobile Technology Unit is a 53-foot long, 1,000 square-foot interactive display featuring Monsanto's latest advances in seed breeding, biotechnology, and new product development designed to help farmers be successful. For the 4-H members, it opened their eyes to career possibilities in bio-research. This one-of-a-kind, hands-on exhibit highlights how:
  • Monsanto seed breeders are using "exotic" seed germplasm from around the world to develop new, high-performing crops for U.S. farmers.
  • Advanced new biotech genes are being developed that not only provide improved weed and insect control, but also improved stress tolerance, healthier food oils and stronger yields.
  • Enhanced molecular breeding tools can greatly increase the chances of finding an ideal combination of "high-yield" genes - one in five, compared to two in one trillion using conventional breeding.
This just scared me when I read this. I just I'll have to be one to tell them the other side of the story.

Hubble Slide show

Ok, so I'm a bit of a space geek. I even in Ohio's Space Scientists of Tomorrow program back in the 90's. So it's no wonder that I just love that NASA decided to upgrade the Hubble telescope one last time.

Check out CNN for greatest hits slide show of some of the amazing pictures Hubble has taken!

Great Blog on Everything Water

I just love finding new blogs and websites committed to saving the planet! Here's a great one I found today:

Blue Living Ideas is the ultimate Web resource for information, tips, news, and events related to Earth’s most precious resource — Water. Planet Earth and human beings alike are comprised of over 70% water, and issues such as the availability of adequate supplies of drinking water for Earth’s inhabitants, water pollution, droughts, and marine life protection are among today’s most critical environmental and humanitarian concerns.

About the Author:
Sean Daily is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of Green Living Ideas and its sister site Blue Living Ideas, as well as being the host of our popular GreenTalk Radio podcast. He is a San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur and internationally-recognized expert on technology publishing and enterprise information technologies.

You can also follow him on Twitter: @bluelivingideas

Friday, May 15, 2009

Key Republican Formally Endorses Waxman Climate Bill

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Edward J. Markey introduced "H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act." The Energy and Commerce Committee will begin markup of the bill on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 1:00 p.m., and will complete consideration before the Memorial Day recess.

Boucher Endorses Climate Change Compromise

By Steven T. Dennis
Roll Call Staff
May 14, 2009, 4:23 p.m.

Key moderate Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) formally threw his support Thursday behind the compromise climate change bill he negotiated with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

“I intend to vote yes and I intend to urge all other committee members to do the same,” Boucher said at a press conference.

Boucher said he still wants changes in the measure to reduce the overall carbon reduction targets, but would work with Waxman and Markey at next week’s markup to protect it from Republican amendments until the legislation gets to the floor.

Boucher said he would prefer a 14 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2020 instead of the 17 percent compromise he struck with Waxman and also wanted a slower phaseout of free allocations given to electric utilities to mitigate any increase in rates for consumers.

But Waxman and Markey exulted at the agreement.

Markey said the deal “defies conventional wisdom that was pronouncing this bill dead for weeks and months.”

“It’s a legislative Susan Boyle. Everyone underestimated it until it started to sing,” he said.

Waxman said that some negotiations were continuing, including on the issue of oil refineries, and that bill text would be released either late Thursday or Friday.

The Story of Stuff

Here's another great video to check out! The New York Times published a front page article on the documentary on May 10th.

From the website:
The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
You can watch the full video by clicking on the website link above.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Good News! Trash-Free Anacostia

From the D.C. Wire:
Committees: Bring A Bag Or Pay A Nickel

Two D.C. Council committees approved legislation today that would require consumers to pay 5 cents for paper or plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets where food is involved.

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 could end up being the toughest law on plastic and paper bags in the country, forcing consumers to use reusable bags.

According to a press release from Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), "the Committee on Finance and Revenue and the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment held back-to-back meetings to mark-up and approve the legislation this morning."

The idea is that the legislation will target plastic bags, which are helping to pollute the Anacostia River. Plastic bags travel as litter into storm drains and intor the river. Paper bags was included in the legislation when store owners explained the expense of providing consumers with paper, instead of plastic.

"Over 20,000 tons of trash enters the Anacostia River each year leaving a polluted, dirty and neglected river bordering our neighborhoods - today's vote is a big step in the right direction," Wells said in a statement.

Advocates for low-income residents and the plastics and paper industries have lobbied against the legislation as costly for poor people who would have to worry about a "bag tax" when they are trying to buy groceries. The legislation would provide low-income and elderly residents with reusable bags.
Congrats to everyone on their hard work!

Talk About Great Timing!

So after the scary documentary on Monstanto, here is some great news for the future the U.S. food supply:

Obama Offers Farmers $50 million to Go Organic!

Under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) farmers in all 50 states have funds available to encourage organic agriculture production.

From the USDA press release:

Under the Organic Initiative required minimum core conservation practices will be determined by specific resource concerns. The practices are: Conservation Crop Rotation; Cover Crop; Nutrient Management; Pest Management; Prescribed Grazing; and Forage Harvest Management. States must consider using any appropriate practice that meets the resource concern on a particular operation.

Applications received from organic producers or producers in transition to organic farming will be accepted under this initiative between May 11 and May 29. Applications will be ranked at that time.

“The USDA funding is historic. It signals federal recognition of the multiple contributions organic agriculture makes to the health of our environment. Better water quality, enhanced biodiversity, protection of bees and other pollinators, and increased carbon storage in our soil are all benefits of organic production,” said the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s Senior Policy Analyst Mark Lipson.

So Where Does Our Food Come From?

Walk into a grocery store (or like I did the other day one of those crazy giant bulk goods stores where you can buy a case of motor oil next to a case of pineapple) and you see rows and rows of food - fresh food, frozen food, prepackaged food. But how many people ever think: Where does my food come from?

I find this one of the most disturbing phenomena in this country. People will spends days and weeks researching the best car, computer, or flat-screen TV, but will reach for just about anything to put inside our bodies.

Providing food to consumers used to be a regional enterprise where family farms would raise most of our basic crops. Now, according to Forbes magazine, the worldwide sector is worth about $4.8 trillion and growing. Mega corporations control everything from manufacturing of agrichemicals and seeds to food processing to retail.

Last year a French journalist and film maker, Marie-Monique Robin, created the documentary "The World According to Monsanto" which looks at the domination of the agricultural business by one company. Twilight Earth has posted the entire documentary on their site.

A little background info: Monsanto, the chemical company that brought you Agent Orange, is also responsible for the herbicide "Roundup" (and subsequent "Roundup Ready" seeds). They are also the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and are a developer of bovine growth hormones.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A New Computer, Yay!

So I've been absent from blogging for a while since I've been sans computer, but I've been amassing quite a long list of articles to share and comment on!

Let's start positive with a recycling project from WikiHow and ThreadBanger:

How To Make Flip Flops from an Old Yoga Mat

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Corporate Scientists Lie?

I found this too interesting and wanted to reprint in its entirety:

Industries Buried Internal Findings
Climate Wording Cut From Public Report

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A group funded by fossil-fuel-dependent companies that argued for years that human-generated greenhouse gases were not driving global warming was advised by its own scientists that this was the case, according to documents submitted as part of an ongoing lawsuit between auto manufacturers and states seeking to regulate vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions.
The Global Climate Coalition, a group of representatives of the oil, auto and coal industries, spent years telling the public that the link between human activity and climate change was too uncertain to justify U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 treaty aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. In 1995, however, a "primer" on the issue produced by the organization's own scientific experts concluded that "the scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied."
This language was deleted from the primer when the group released it to the public.
Existence of the deleted material was first reported yesterday by the New York Times, which received it from a lawyer involved in a suit between the state of California and automakers; The Washington Post obtained a copy from the Sierra Club, which is also involved in the case.
William O'Keefe, who chaired the group before it folded in 2002, denied that the organization made an effort to suppress science suggesting a link between carbon-based emissions and climate change. He said the Times article "creates the impression the companies within the GCC intentionally tried to mislead the public on the human impact on the climate. That is absolute fiction. What we said then is there was enough uncertainty about the extent of human influence that it would not justify the Kyoto Protocol."
David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel, said it was notable that three of the parties in the case -- the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and Chrysler -- had earlier dropped one of their legal claims that would have compelled them to hand over documents related to climate change science. Another party, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, turned over the primer.
"The only conceivable reason they would drop their claim is they were afraid to share their documents on climate change with the public or the courts," Bookbinder said.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the Senate's most vocal proponents of climate legislation, said the revelation of the deleted material "underscores the need to be wary of some of the industry studies and analyses that will come out" in the coming months as Congress debates whether to impose a mandatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions.
Former vice president Al Gore also attacked the Global Climate Coalition yesterday in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, comparing it to disgraced financier Bernard Madoff. "They have committed a fraud larger than Madoff's fraud," Gore said. "They lied to people who trusted them, in order to make money."
In a sign of how much has changed over the past dozen years, former members of the defunct industry group now endorse a cap-and-trade bill to curb emissions.
"The utility industry doesn't dispute the science or the need for federal legislation," said Dan Riedinger of the Edison Electric Institute. "Our focus is on urging lawmakers to enact a climate bill that cuts emissions but also protects our customers from sharply higher costs."

Friday, April 24, 2009

What Does Climate Change Look Like?

As we come closer to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December, the debate in the media rages on as to whether or not the environmental disasters seen worldwide are caused by humans. A new book, Climate Change: Picturing the Science chronicles the effects seen all over the world, from fires in Greece to the non-existent glaciers in Alaska, through pictures.

You can see a brief slideshow on Scientific American's website by clicking here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Absurd Quote of the Day!

"The dumping of toxic sludge into the Potomac River actually protects the fish in that they are not inclined to bite and get eaten by humans but they go ahead with the upstream movement."

Army Corps of Engineers, 2002

"People Can't Put Their Interests Above the Earth"

Yesterday, Bolivian President Evo Morales addressed the United Nations in honor of Earth Day:
"Not just human beings have rights, but the planet has rights," he said. "What's happening with climate change is that the rights of Mother Earth are not being respected."
He told the U.N. delegates that "we have the challenge to agree on a universal declaration for the rights of Mother Earth." Morales outlined four principles that he asked them to consider:
  • The right to life: "The right for no ecosystem to be eliminated by the irresponsible acts of human beings."
  • The right of biosystems to regenerate themselves: "Development cannot be infinite. There's a limit on everything."
  • The right to a clean life: "The right for Mother Earth to live without contamination, pollution. Fish and animals and trees have rights."
  • The right to harmony and balance between everyone and everything: "We are all interdependent."
Morales pointed out how indigenous people in Bolivia have rites and rituals to honor the Earth.  "We now must begin to realize that the Earth does not belong to us," he said. "It's the other way around. We belong to the Earth."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

This pretty much sums up my feeling on today:
Click here to send the card to your friends and family!
I'm so happy to see how Earth Day has hit mainstream media in every direction.  Better yet is all the criticism coming from the side!  You know you are starting to get somewhere when all the crazies (aka Rush, et al) are clamoring for attention.
Hopefully this momentum will continue and we will have 365 days of Earth Day!

Absurd Quote of the Day!

"We don’t know what those other [climate change] cycles were caused by in the past. It could be dinosaur flatulence. Who knows?"

February 12, 2007 - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), during a congressional hearing on the global warming and climate change report, which concluded for the first time that there was an “unequivocal” link between human behavior and rising temperatures.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Climate Change in the Media; A Bit of Realism Please!

With Friday's EPA ruling that CO2 should be regulated under the Clean Air Act, every media outlet in the country has been talking about the impacts this will have from legislation/regulation to economics. Most of the articles I've read including The Wall Street Journal have been quoting dire consequences from both coal and electric producers. They claim that passing such legislation will be an "atomic bomb... to the U.S. economy".

From the WSJ article, "American Electric Power, a utility giant with 5.2 million customers in states from Texas to Michigan to Virginia, is already considering what coal plants would have to be shuttered and how high rates would have to go to comply with either a regulatory or legislative mandates to curb carbon dioxide. AEP spokesman Pat Hemlepp said rate increases stretch from 25% to 50% and beyond, depending on the climate change strategy that finally emerges from Washington." Talk about scare tactics!

No one believes that whatever legislation or regulation that gets passed is going to be enacted overnight. Coal-fired plants are not going to be running one day and shut down the next. As much as these spokepeople will try to have you believe, it's just not going to happen.

It's going to be an ongoing process - limits are going to achieved over time. What will happen is that jobs will be created here in this country not lost. We need further research on how we can still use existing plants and reduce emissions. There is already a great site, U.S. Climate Change Technology Program, that outlines ongoing research and technologies being considered led by The Department of Energy.

This administration also has already pledged further funding for research on renewable energy. We already have commercial operations for wind, solar, and fuel cell technologies. With the recent collaboration of FERC and MMS, we should be seeing more research and testing in offshore wind and wave energy. The result - more jobs created and less CO2 released in the atmosphere.

Sherman's Lagoon is Now a Musical!

Sherman's Lagoon, the Musical is a hilarious adventure back in time to when Kapupu Lagoon was a kinder, gentler place; while introducing the audience to the strip's already well-loved characters (e.g. Sherman, Hawthorne, Fillmore, and Ernest,) it highlights the dating trials and tribulations of Sherman and Megan.

Listen to the soundtrack on iTunes or Rhapsody.

The audience also meets some new characters: Ernest's smarter little sister, Bentley, a doo-wop chorus called "The Shallow Soles," and the Musical's two antagonists: the hoary ol' fisherman, Cap'n Quigley, and his new accomplice, the Nifty Fish Niblets Queen, Mrs. Gorton. Together, these two dastardly villains plot to vacuum up the oceans of the world - until not a single fish remains!

Complications ensue as Fillmore decides to head off to the Annual Ascension Island Sea Turtle Jamboree, the Big Kahuna's dating advice is cryptic and no help (as usual,) Ernest thinks he has the solution - but doesn't, and Hawthorne is, well, Hawthorne. By the end of the show, Sherman finds himself having to actually save the Lagoon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FERC and MMS Reach Agreement on US Outer Continental Shelf

On April 9th, an agreement was finally reached between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) on the control of leasing, licensing, and regulating for all renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

Under the agreement:
  • MMS has exclusive jurisdiction with regard to the production, transportation, or transmission of energy from non-hydrokinetic renewable energy projects, including wind and solar. MMS also has exclusive jurisdiction to issue leases, easements, and rights-of-way regarding Outer Continental Shelf lands for hydrokinetic projects. MMS will conduct any necessary environmental reviews, including those under the National Environmental Policy Act, related to those actions.
  • FERC has exclusive jurisdiction to issue licenses and exemptions from licensing for the construction and operation of hydrokinetic projects on the Outer Continental Shelf and will conduct any necessary analyses, including those under the National Environmental Policy Act, related to those actions. FERC’s licensing process will actively involve relevant federal land and resource agencies, including Interior.
  • FERC will not issue a license or exemption for an Outer Continental Shelf hydrokinetic project until the applicant has first obtained a lease, easement, or right-of-way from MMS for the site. FERC will not issue preliminary permits for hydrokinetic projects on the Outer Continental Shelf. In all leases, easements, and rights-of-way for hydrokinetic projects, MMS will require that construction and operation cannot begin without a license or exemption from FERC, except when FERC notifies MMS that a license or exemption is not required.
This agreement will begin to clarify permitting requirements for companies developing offshore wind, solar, and wave energy.

A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding can be found here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spread the word on water conservation! is offering a free copy of BLUE PLANET RUN: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World!

Just go here to download your free copy!

Also check out their homepage to find out what you can do to help provide safe drinking water for people around the world!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting the kids involved!

With the continued deterioration of the water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, this is a great way to get kids involved in both environmental issues and working with children from other countries.

Water Monitor Eyes Farm Runoff in Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hurricane forecaster predicts average '09 season

I wouldn't mind just a few small hurricanes that sit offshore and pump some waves our direction. :)
By ESTES THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer – 37 mins ago
RALEIGH, N.C. – The 2009 hurricane season will be less active than last year's flurry of storms, and there's less than a 50 percent chance that a hurricane will hit the southeastern U.S., a researcher said Thursday.

On the Gulf Coast, however, there is a 70 percent chance a hurricane will make landfall.

The N.C. State University team's forecast of 11-14 named storms for the Atlantic season, including six to eight hurricanes, was generally in line with predictions from Colorado State University researchers. They called for an average season with 12 named storms, including six hurricanes — two of them major.

Last year was one of the most active hurricane season's on record, with 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes, forming in the Atlantic. Five of the eight hurricanes were at least Category 3 strength.

The forecast from the N.C. State team led by Professor Lian Xie said there was a 45 percent chance a hurricane would hit the southeast coast and a 40 percent chance a major hurricane would hit the Gulf Coast.

"We anticipate the overall activity of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season to be close to that of an average season seen in the past 20 years," said Xie, whose team evaluated 100 years of hurricane positions and intensities along with weather patterns and sea surface temperatures.

Last year's forecast was for a slightly more active season than average with 13 to 15 named storms, he said.

"I would also like to emphasize that long-range hurricane predictions, although have shown some skill in the past, are still not a precise science," he said.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

It's about time - but they can do better!

During my sophomore and junior years (96-97) in college I actually co-oped for Kimberly-Clark's research division in Neenah, WI. I was in charge of researching biodegradable polymers my first semester and the second semester creating a biodegradable diaper. Well, I haven't seen that launched yet, 12 years later, but you'd figure they would have been a little more on the forefront of the whole recycled paper market.

I think 40% recycled material is pretty weak as there are plenty of options out there with 100% recycled material.

Kimberly-Clark Launches Recycled Paper Products

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Kimberly-Clark Corp is going "green" in toilet paper, napkins and paper towels, launching a line of consumer paper products that uses recycled material.

The launch this month of Scott Naturals makes Kimberly-Clark the first major paper products maker to have a full line that taps into the growing market for environmentally friendly products.

It follows on the success other mainstream manufacturers have had in selling products that are marketed as environmentally friendly, most notably Clorox Co's Green Works line of cleaners, which already accounts for a big chunk of that company's sales growth.

The success of Green Works, launched in late 2007, helped demonstrate that "green" products would be purchased by more than just a handful of consumers, said Brian Morgan, senior research analyst at market research firm Euromonitor International.

"Some of the big players, they really weren't convinced that it could be a mainstream strategy," he said.

Kimberly-Clark said consumers who buy Scott products --the company's lower-priced "value brand" compared with its Cottonelle and Viva lines -- have been asking for environmentally friendly paper products.

"We think there is a big, key, unmet need for consumers of getting the right price, quality and environmental benefits," Scott brand director Erik Seidel told Reuters in an interview.

The U.S. market for toilet paper, napkins and paper towels totaled $11.89 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor.

Charmin and Bounty maker Procter & Gamble Co does not make recycled paper products, and a spokesman would not comment on any future plans. Georgia-Pacific, whose brands include Quilted Northern, does not have a full line of products marketed as containing recycled fibers, but does have recycled fibers in some of its products, a spokeswoman said.


Paper products with recycled fibers have been a hard sell to all but the most environmentally concerned consumers because of the perception that they do not perform as well as standard products when it comes to aspects like softness.

A recent test by Consumer Reports found that Marcal's Small Steps and Seventh Generation's toilet papers -- two of the larger "green" options -- were still "only so-so" in terms of softness, despite recent changes in formulation.

"You have to have a balance of having that (environmental) element with something that is effective," Morgan said.

Kimberly-Clark said it is using a blend of recycled and virgin fibers to feel and absorb more like standard products.

The Scott Naturals toilet paper has 40 percent recycled fiber, while the paper towels have 60 percent and the napkins contain 80 percent.

The cost of the napkins and paper towels is in line with Scott's traditional products, while the toilet paper costs 6 percent more because it is more expensive to manufacture, Seidel said.

Keeping the price in check may help Scott Naturals' viability.

"With paper products, it's much more commoditized than with household cleaning," Euromonitor's Morgan said. "People aren't willing to pay even 10 or 20 cents more per unit."

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman, editing by Matthew Lewis)