Archive for June, 2009

Permafrost melting a growing climate threat -study

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

SINGAPORE, July 1 (Reuters) – The amount of carbon locked away in frozen soils in the far Northern Hemisphere is double previous estimates and rapid melting could accelerate global warming, a study released on Wednesday says.

Large areas of northern Russia, Canada, Nordic countries and the U.S. state of Alaska have deep layers of frozen soil near the surface called permafrost.

Global warming has already triggered rapid melting of the permafrost in some areas, releasing powerful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

As the world gets warmer, more of these gases are predicted to be released and could trigger a tipping point in which huge amounts of the gases flood the atmosphere, rapidly driving up temperatures, scientists say.

“Massive amounts of carbon stored in frozen soils at high latitudes are increasingly vulnerable to exposure to the atmosphere,” said Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project at Australia’s state-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

“The research shows that the amount of carbon stored in soils surrounding the North Pole has been hugely underestimated.”

The study is published in the latest issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycle.

Canadell said a four-year study of the latest research on permafrost, data from new drilling projects as well as the release of previously unpublished data from the Russian Academy of Sciences had led to a rethink of carbon levels.

“Projections show that almost all near-surface permafrost will disappear by the end of this century exposing large carbon stores to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases,” he said in a statement.

He said if only 10 per cent of the permafrost melted, this could lead to the release of an additional 80 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. This would equate to about 0.7 degrees Celsius of global warming.

According to the U.N. Climate Panel, average temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 deg C since the late nineteenth century and are forecast to rise another 1.8 to 4 deg C by 2100, Scientists say a rapidly warming planet will trigger more intense storms and droughts, rising seas and melting ice caps.

Canadell said that on a recent trip to northern China, the permafrost at its southern limit had all but disappeared over the past 20 years.

Locals had told him the permafrost was once 20 cm below the surface and now it was several metres down, he told Reuters from Canberra, Australia.

In the statement, he said computer models showed global warming could trigger an irreversible process of thawing.

For example, heat generated from increased microbial activity in the soil could lead to sustained and long-term emissions of carbon dioxide and methane.

In addition, lakes formed as permafrost thaws would draw heat to deeper layers and bring methane trapped in pockets below to the surface. (Reporting by David Fogarty; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Greenest of green: Portland, Ore.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
By ANGELA BLACK
McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE

McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE PHOTO/TRAVEL PORTLAND — The MAX light rail in downtown Portland, Ore., offers an earth-friendly transportation option. Portland is ranked the greenest city by the Mother Nature Network’s editors.

Although the EPA has not established official criteria for ranking the greenness of a city, there are several key areas to measure for effectiveness in carbon footprint reduction. These include air and water quality, efficient recycling and management of waste, percentage of LEED-certified buildings, acres of land devoted to greenspace, use of renewable energy sources, and easy access to products and services that make green lifestyle choices (organic products, buying local, clean transportation methods) easy.

Mother Nature Network’s editorial team rounded up its top 10:

10. Austin, Texas

Carbon neutral by 2020 – it’s an ambitious goal, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Austin Energy is the nation’s largest provider of renewable energy, which makes its goal to power the city solely on renewable energy within reach. As the gateway to the scenic Texas Hill Country, acreage in Austin that’s devoted to green space includes 206 parks, 12 preserves, 26 greenbelts and more than 50 miles of trails.

9. Chicago The Windy City has embraced land sustainability far longer than you may think. In 1909, pioneering city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham created a long-range plan for the lakefront that balanced urban growth, and created a permanent greenbelt around the metropolitan area. This greening of the city continues through the Chicago Green Roof Program. More than 2.5 million square feet of city roofs support plant life – including Willis Tower (formerly called Sears Tower) and the city hall building. Also, about 500,000 new trees have been planted.

8. Seattle

The unofficial coffee klatch capital of the country is also sustainable-living savvy. More than 20 public buildings in Seattle are LEED-certified or under construction for LEED certification. Through an incentive program, residents are encouraged to install solar panels on their homes for energy conservation. Sustainable Ballard, a green neighborhood group and sustainability festival host, offers ongoing workshops about how to live in harmony with the environment.

7. Berkeley, Calif.

A great place to find an abundance of organic and vegetarian restaurants is also on the cutting edge of sustainability. Berkeley is recognized as a leader in the incubation of clean technology for wind power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower.

6. Cambridge, Mass.

In 2008, Prevention Magazine named Cambridge ‘‘the best walking city.’’ Thoreau’s Walden Pond can be found in nearby Concord, and education powerhouses Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are located here. In 2002, city officials implemented a major climate protection plan and today most city vehicles are fueled by B20 biodiesel or electricity. All new construction or major renovations must meet LEED standards. And a project called ‘‘Compost that Stuff’’ collects and processes organic waste from residents, restaurants, bars and hotels.

5. Eugene, Ore.

Known as the Emerald City for its natural green beauty, this baby boomer haven and second largest city in the state has been doing the ‘‘green’’ thing since the 1960s. In 2008, after only one year of service, the Emerald Express, a hybrid public transit system, won a Sustainable Transport award. Cycling is the preferred mode of transportation, made possible by the 30 miles of off-street bike paths and 29 dedicated bike routes, which total a whopping 150 miles of smog-free travel throughout the metro area.

4. Oakland, Calif.

Residents of this port city have access to an abundance of fresh, organic food, much of which is locally sourced. It’s also home to the nation’s cleanest tap water, hydrogen-powered public transit and the country’s oldest wildlife refuge. Oakland also plans to have zero waste and be oil-independent by 2020, and already gets 17 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
3. Boston

It’s hard to think of this city without also thinking of tea – as a commodity, not a drink. Boston ranks high among the urban green elite. Sustainability efforts include a ‘‘Green by 2015” goal to replace traditional taxi cabs with hybrid vehicles, recycle trash to power homes, use more solar panels and use more electric motorbikes for transportation. The city’s first annual Down2Earth conference was held in 2008. It’s designed to educate residents about how to live the most sustainable lifestyle.

2. San Francisco

Declared by Mayor Gavin Newsom to be America’s solar energy leader, this vibrant city of cultural tolerance was a 1960s icon and epicenter for the Summer of Love. But in addition to peace, love and solar power, there’s also an innovative recycling program with an artist-in-residence at the recycling facility. The artist uses his work to inspire residents to recycle and conserve. San Francisco is also the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, a concept that supports its effort to divert 75 percent of landfill waste by 2010.

1. Portland, Ore.

The city of microbrewery mania and home to megastore Powell’s Books – one of the few remaining independent booksellers in the country – is No. 1 in sustainability. Declared the most bikeable city in the United States for its 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes, Portland certainly makes forgoing gas-powered travel easy. And for lessons in DIY sustainable food sources, classes are available for container gardening and cheese making, or beekeeping and chicken-keeping.

Senate Approves Low Carbon Fuel Standards Bill

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

HB 2186 outlines measures to met energy goals set in 2007 session.

 (SALEM, Ore.) – Senate Democrats passed legislation this evening addressing climate change and improving energy efficiency, meeting a key goal of their 2009 legislative agenda.

HB 2186 authorizes the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) to adopt a Low Carbon Fuel Standard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and conduct a study on retrofitting to improve aerodynamic drag on medium and heavy duty trucks.

“It is in Oregon’s self interest to be a leader in the very practices and technologies that will solve climate change because we will reap the financial gains of exporting those solutions to others,” said Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland), chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

“This is an important step towards meeting the goals Oregon has set for reducing greenhouse gases.”

The Oregon legislature adopted goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the 2007 session. HB 2186 begins the process of defining the path to meeting these energy efficiency goals.

“This bill strikes a balance between the need to address our carbon output while not putting an unfair burden on Oregon business,” said Senator Rick Metsger (D-Welches), chair of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.

“Many hours of deliberation went into this bill and in the end we’ve created a product that is forward thinking and sensitive to these challenging economic times.”

The version of HB 2186 passed this morning was the product of a work group established after the bill was sent to the Senate. Significant provisions of C-engrossed bill include:

* A Low Carbon Fuel Standard to reduce lifecycle green house gas emissions from gasoline and diesel.

* A process to ensure that replacement parts for vehicle emissions control systems perform as well as the original equipment.

* A requirement for auto mechanics to check and fill tires when otherwise servicing vehicles to improve fuel efficiency.

* Authority to restrict unnecessary idling or commercial ships to reduce wasted fuel.

* A Metropolitan Planning Organization Task Force to look at other ways to reduce green house gas emissions through alternative land use and transportation scenarios.

HB 2186 directs the Department of Environmental Quality to provide regular reports on implementation to the Legislature, including to the interim legislative committees during 2010, and to the 2011, 2013, and 2015 Legislative Assemblies.

The report must include a description of any significant policy decisions made in the adoption of the rules and the manner in which the EQC complied with the legislation’s requirements.

“Our caucus has developed a strong record this session of passing legislation that is forward thinking environmentally while also sensitive to the tough economic climate many businesses face,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin).

“This bill is a fitting example of finding that equilibrium and meeting our commitment to address climate change and improve energy efficiency in Oregon.”

Low carbon fuel standards will start July 1st 2011 and will sunset on December 31st 2015.

The bill will now go to the House for concurrence.

 

Biofuels poised for a comeback

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Biofuel defenders say political support for corn-based ethanol remains strong

By DAN BLACK
For the Capital Press

BOISE – Remember when biofuels were sexy?

They were to cut greenhouse gases, provide energy independence and help America’s struggling farmers. Two years ago Idaho boasted three large processing plants with another cutting-edge plant proposed for Eastern Idaho. But when the recession hit, gas prices dropped, corn prices stayed high and biofuel makers cut back.

Now, “ethanol production is drying up in Idaho,” said John Crockett, the bio-energy manager for Idaho’s Energy Division. But, he said, “it’s going to come back. It’s something we need to do.”

While other plants are still operating in Washington and Oregon, Idaho’s fledgling bio-energy production has virtually frozen. J.R. Simplot Co. sold its biofuels plants in Caldwell and Burley to large multinational companies that haven’t resumed production. Even before the sale, “They just didn’t make money,” said Steve Gray, director of Commodity Risk Management at J.R. Simplot Co.

Simplot’s plants dried the peelings, used enzymes to break down potato waste into starch, then sugar, then alcohol. It was costly, especially to dry the potato waste.

“Potato peelings are about 80 percent water,” he said, which made production of fuel uneconomical.

More traditional corn ethanol producers have made steady improvements in their processes, Gray said, but have scaled back production due to low demand for gasoline. A federal mandate for 10 percent ethanol in all fuel keeps the most efficient plants profitable. But after the market provides the 10 percent, about 15 or 16 billion gallons, ethanol must compete directly with gasoline, Gray said, which is difficult because of high corn prices and transportation costs. The new players, he said, are large multi-national energy-producing companies that have bought the largest ethanol plants in the country.

There might still be room for niche producers. Blue Sky Biodiesel opened in New Plymouth in late 2006 just when fuel prices were rising, but now “just barely operates,” Crockett said. It made biodiesel from oil crops. Calls to the company went unanswered last week.

Calls to the multinational companies that bought Simplot Co.’s plants found the numbers disconnected.

IOGEN nearly opened a cellulosic biomass plant in Eastern Idaho, but instead was lured to Canada. That company would have used corn and wheat stover or wood chips to make fuel, a process that holds promise for small timber-surrounded communities, but is largely untested.

Proponents say ethanol undoubtedly has a future.

“We’re not going to abandon corn ethanol,” Gray said, “because of its broad political support.”

If gasoline prices rise, commodities such as corn would rise as well, he said, negating a clear benefit for ethanol over gasoline.

The real boost to ethanol could happen if the Environmental Protection Agency requires a higher proportion of ethanol in the nation’s fuel blend, an option that’s being considered.

Gray said federal production credits and the mandated ethanol blend help America’s farm economy.

“It’s a clever way to get money to the farmer,” by keeping the demand for corn high, supporting land value and shoring up grower profits. He said while the carbon dioxide benefit of corn ethanol may be negligible, cellulosic biofuels such as wood chips and stover hold more environmental promise.

University of Idaho sponsors a research and education effort that is leading the nation in cellulosic biofuels, Crockett said.

But compared to corn ethanol, cellulosic biofuels are still in their infancy, Gray said.

First Portland Climate Champion named

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

by Susan Green, The Oregonian

Tuesday June 16, 2009, 1:06 PM

The Portland office of engineering and consulting firm Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch is the first Portland business to receive the BEST Business Center’s new “Portland Climate Champion” recognition, an honor awarded to businesses that go above and beyond in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

To achieve the champion status, the firm improved the energy efficiency of its business operations, provided alternative transportation options for employees and implemented a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program.

The center’s sustainability advisers visited the office to evaluate the efforts.

The BEST Business Center provides free tools and advice to help businesses in Portland become more profitable and sustainable. It streamlines access to financial incentives and technical assistance for greening business operations.

The center is a partnership of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Water Bureau, the Portland Development Commission, Metro, Pacific Power and Portland General Electric.

– Susan Green; susangreen@news.oregonian.com

High Water: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than expected and could raise East Coast sea levels an extra 20 inches by 2100 — to more than 6 feet

Monday, June 15th, 2009

“The indispensable blog” — Tom Friedman, New York Times

The eastern United States must plan on the very real possibility that total sea level rise by 2100 will exceed 6 feet on our current emissions path. Sadly, the Washington Post got the only story half right.

greenland_ice_melting.jpgThis week I’ll focus on our best understanding of the impacts that Americans face from human-caused climate change.  On Tuesday, the US Global Change Research Program is releasing its long-awaited comprehensive analysis of Global Climate Change Impacts in United States.  We’ll see how it matches up against my not-so-well-funded analysis, “Yes, the science says on our current emissions path we are projected to warm most of U.S. 10 – 15°F by 2100, with sea level rise of 5 feet or more, and the SW will be a permanent Dust Bowl.”

First, though, let’s do a comprehensive review of projected sea level rise (SLR), starting with two recent studies on what accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet might mean for us.  The University of Alaska Fairbanks reports on a brand new study in the journal Hydrological Processes (subs. req’d):

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected according to a new study….

Study results indicate that the ice sheet may be responsible for nearly 25 percent of global sea rise in the past 13 years. The study also shows that seas now are rising by more than 3 millimeters a year–more than 50 percent faster than the average for the 20th century.

UAF researcher Sebastian H. Mernild and colleagues from the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark discovered that from 1995 to 2007, overall precipitation on the ice sheet decreased while surface ablation–the combination of evaporation, melting and calving of the ice sheet–increased. According to Mernild’s new data, since 1995 the ice sheet lost an average of 265 cubic kilometers per year, which has contributed to about 0.7 millimeters per year in global sea level rise.

This research is consistent with data presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December (see “Two trillion tons of land ice lost since 2003, rate of Greenland summer ice loss triples 2007 record“).  This staggering ice loss is all the more worrisome because it was not predicted by the IPCC’s climate models. As Penn State climatologist Richard Alley said in March 2006, the ice sheets appear to be shrinking “100 years ahead of schedule.” In 2001, the IPCC thought that neither Greenland nor Antarctica would lose significant mass by 2100. They both already are.

And, of course, Greenland is facing an almost incomprehensible amount of warming if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path — see “M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F.”

Especially worrisome for North America is that a new study in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) finds that sustained high rates of Greenland ice loss could lead to staggering increases in coastal sea level rise.  As reported:

If Greenland’s ice melts at moderate to high rates, ocean circulation by 2100 may shift and cause sea levels off the northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches (about 30 to 50 centimeters) more than in other coastal areas. The research builds on recent reports that have found that sea level rise associated with global warming could adversely affect North America, and its findings suggest that the situation is more threatening than previously believed.

“If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise,” says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, the lead author. “Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise.”

All that is needed for the 20 inches of extra sea level rise is if Greenland’s melt rate continues at its current rate through 2050.

And the key point of this study is that this 20 inches would be on top of what ever sea level rise is caused by the ice loss in Greenland, Antarctica, and the inland glaciers, plus thermal explanation of the ocean.

How much sea level rise is that?  Well, if you read last week’s WashPost story on the second study, “East Coast May Feel Rise in Sea Levels the Most,” you’d get the bizarrely old SLR estimate from the 2007 IPCC report:

While the rest of the world might see seven to 23 inches of sea-level rise by 2100, the studies show this region might get that and more — 17 to 25 inches more — for a total increase that would submerge a beach chair.

[Note to WP:  Sea level rise is one of the most potentially devastating impacts of global warming to human civilization — so you need a more serious visual metaphor for it than submerging a “beach chair.]

The 7- to 23-inch estimate was out of date the minute it was published in 2007, since the IPCC froze virtually all new science inputs to its Fourth Assessment in 2005.  Why would the WP write an article about the very latest study of possible extra SLR in 2100 and then add it to a very old SLR estimate that was based on an even older literature survey?

Last year, the Bush administration itself explained in great detail that the IPCC’s projection, low-balled the sea level rise number — see US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections.  Since big media still gets this wrong, let’s take a quick look at that study, which concluded “based on an assessment of the published scientific literature”:

Recent rapid changes at the edges of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets show acceleration of flow and thinning, with the velocity of some glaciers increasing more than twofold. Glacier accelerations causing this imbalance have been related to enhanced surface meltwater production penetrating to the bed to lubricate glacier motion, and to ice-shelf removal, ice-front retreat, and glacier ungrounding that reduce resistance to flow. The present generation of models does not capture these processes. It is unclear whether this imbalance is a short-term natural adjustment or a response to recent climate change, but processes causing accelerations are enabled by warming, so these adjustments will very likely become more frequent in a warmer climate. The regions likely to experience future rapid changes in ice volume are those where ice is grounded well below sea level such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or large glaciers in Greenland like the Jakobshavn Isbrae that flow into the sea through a deep channel reaching far inland. Inclusion of these processes in models will likely lead to sea-level projections for the end of the 21st century that substantially exceed the projections presented in the IPCC AR4 report (0.28 ± 0.10 m to 0.42 ± 0.16 m rise).

What does the recent published scientific literature now project?

  • Science 2008:  “On the basis of calculations presented here, we suggest that an improved estimate of the range of SLR to 2100 including increased ice dynamics lies between 0.8 and 2.0 m.”  The IPCC famously ignored increased ice dynamics in its projection.
  • Nature Geoscience 2007 looked at the last interglacial period (the Eemian, about 120,000 years ago) — the last time the planet was as warm as it soon will be again.  Seas rose 1.6 meters (5 feet) per century “when the global mean temperature was 2 °C higher than today,” a rather mild version of where we are headed in the second half of this century.
  • Science 2007 used empirical data from last century to project that sea levels could be up to 5 feet higher in 2100 and rising 6 inches a decade.
  • Nature 2009 used coral fossil records from the last interglacial warm period 121,000 years ago (when sea levels ultimately reached 15 to 20 feet higher than now).  It concluded “catastrophic increase of more than 5 centimetres per year over a 50-year stretch is possible.”  The lead author warned, “This could happen again.”

And here’s an extra update.  The 2008 Science paper, “Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise” with its 0.8 and 2.0 m projection for 2100, is widely considered to be the most credible, comprehensive, and authoritative recent estimate.  And yet consider just one piece of that analysis — the lower bound projection of the SLR contribution in 2100 from the ice caps and inland glaciers (other than Greenland and Antarctica), which the paper says is 0.17 meters (170 millimeters).

These inland glaciers are melting  unexpectedly fast (see ” Another climate impact comes faster than predicted: Himalayan glaciers “decapitated” and “Another one bites the dust, literally: Bolivia’s 18,000 year-old Chacaltaya glacier is gone.”

A 2009 Geophysical Research Letters paper, “Sea-level rise from glaciers and ice caps: A lower bound,” (subs. req’d) concluded a detailed analysis of actual glacier data:

If the climate continues to warm along current trends, a minimum of 373 ± 21 mm of sea-level rise over the next 100 years is expected from glaciers and ice caps. When compared to recent estimates from all other sources, melt water from glaciers must be considered as a particularly important fraction of the total sea-level rise expected this century.

So you can add a minimum of 0.2 meters to the lower bound of the Science paper — taking that paper’s lower bound to 1 meter.  Given how fast the Arctic is projected to warm on the BAU path, I wouldn’t be surprised if projections of the likely ice loss from Greenland will rise in the coming years.  Same for Antarctica (see “Q: How much can West Antarctica plausibly contribute to sea level rise by 2100?“).

Bottom line:  The entire U.S. should be planning on SLR of 5 feet by 2100 on our current emissions path.  And the eastern United States should plan on the very real possibility that total sea level rise will exceed 6 feet.

Green Jobs Sector ‘Poised for Explosive Growth,’ Study Says

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Green-collar workers — who include everyone from energy-efficiency consultants to wastewater plant operators — constitute a tiny but fast-growing segment of the U.S. economy, according to a study published today by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The “clean-energy economy” grew 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 to 777,000 jobs. While that is just half a percent of all U.S. jobs, the clean-energy economy is poised to grow significantly with financial support from the public and private sectors, the Pew (pdf) concludes. “The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, the Pew Center on the States’ interim deputy director. “The trends include surging venture capital investment … a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.”

About 80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector, broadly known as “cleantech.” And while cleantech slumped with overall venture capital in the first quarter of 2009, the sector outperformed telecommunications, media and other sectors, according to an analysis of Thompson Reuters data by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

“[Cleantech] is faring better than the rest of the venture capital sectors — that’s driven by the sense that the government policy thinking has changed radically with the new administration,” said David Prend, a NVCA director and managing general partner at the venture capital firm RockPort Capital Partners.

Indeed, the Pew report cites the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February, as a significant force driving the clean-energy economy. The stimulus includes nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.

The report finds that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. The total number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that period, which included the dot-com boom and bust and the beginning of the current recession.

The nation’s most populous state, California, had the most clean-energy jobs — nearly 17.6 million workers, or about 0.71 percent of its total work force. Texas ranked second, with 11.7 million workers.

On a per capita basis, Oregon had the nation’s most robust clean-energy economy. The Beaver State had more than 1.9 million clean-energy jobs — about 1.02 percent of its total work force. Mississippi ranked last on a per capita basis, with about 1.4 million clean-energy jobs — 0.24 percent of its total work force.

The report defines the clean-energy economy as including 16 sectors: energy generation, energy transmission, energy storage, energy efficiency, transportation, manufacturing/industrial, construction, agriculture, energy production, materials, air and environment, recycling and waste, water and wastewater, business services, finance/investment, and research and advocacy. The authors counted only companies and jobs on the supply side, not the demand side.

“The numbers are probably on the conservative side,” conceded Kil Huh, the report’s lead researcher.

Source: New York Times

Portland ranks as 3rd least-wasteful city

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Portland Business Journal

Portlanders may be cleaner than Seattleites, according to one recent study.

A new report from Nalgene Outdoor called “Least Wasteful Cities” ranks Portland No. 3. Seattle is No. 4.

Portland’s high rankings:

• Using reusable containers in place of single-serve bottles of water/soda or other beverages — 1st

• Using reusable containers in place of disposable food storage items — 1st

• Buying bulk food to avoid extra packaging — 1st

• Not buying bottled water — 1st

• Shopping at local markets that carry locally grown food — 1st

• Using a reusable grocery bag — 1st

• Buying second-hand clothing, electronics and furniture — 1st

• Throwing out less than two bags of trash each week — 2nd

• Saving leftover meals and food to eat again — 2nd

Portland’s low rankings:

• Using rain barrels — 12th

• Limiting showers to less than 5 minutes — 14th

• Reusing Ziploc bags and tin foil — 15th

Overall, 78 percent of Portland residents consider themselves to be “eco-conscious”; 88 percent plan on being more environmentally conscious in the next year; and 57 percent of Portland residents think their city is on the right track to becoming more environmentally responsible.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Nalgene tested America’s top 25 cities on everything from recycling, to using rain barrels, to reusing wrapping paper and rubber bands.

San Francisco ranked No. 1 overall, followed by New York City. Atlanta ranked last at No. 25.

Green Jobs Sector ‘Poised for Explosive Growth,’ Study Says

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Published: June 10, 2009

Green-collar workers — who include everyone from energy-efficiency consultants to wastewater plant operators — constitute a tiny but fast-growing segment of the U.S. economy, according to a study published today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The “clean-energy economy” grew 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 to 777,000 jobs. While that is just half a percent of all U.S. jobs, the clean-energy economy is poised to grow significantly with financial support from the public and private sectors, the Pew (pdf) concludes.

“The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, the Pew Center on the States’ interim deputy director. “The trends include surging venture capital investment … a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.”

About 80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector, broadly known as “cleantech.” And while cleantech slumped with overall venture capital in the first quarter of 2009, the sector outperformed telecommunications, media and other sectors, according to an analysis of Thompson Reuters data by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

“[Cleantech] is faring better than the rest of the venture capital sectors — that’s driven by the sense that the government policy thinking has changed radically with the new administration,” said David Prend, a NVCA director and managing general partner at the venture capital firm RockPort Capital Partners.

Indeed, the Pew report cites the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February, as a significant force driving the clean-energy economy. The stimulus includes nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.

The report finds that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. The total number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that period, which included the dot-com boom and bust and the beginning of the current recession.

The nation’s most populous state, California, had the most clean-energy jobs — nearly 17.6 million workers, or about 0.71 percent of its total work force. Texas ranked second, with 11.7 million workers.

On a per capita basis, Oregon had the nation’s most robust clean-energy economy. The Beaver State had more than 1.9 million clean-energy jobs — about 1.02 percent of its total work force. Mississippi ranked last on a per capita basis, with about 1.4 million clean-energy jobs — 0.24 percent of its total work force.

The report defines the clean-energy economy as including 16 sectors: energy generation, energy transmission, energy storage, energy efficiency, transportation, manufacturing/industrial, construction, agriculture, energy production, materials, air and environment, recycling and waste, water and wastewater, business services, finance/investment, and research and advocacy. The authors counted only companies and jobs on the supply side, not the demand side.

“The numbers are probably on the conservative side,” conceded Kil Huh, the report’s lead researcher.

New 32-passenger bus!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Well, it’s been a while since a legitimate blog post, but let’s just say we’re in our busy season.  Currently backing into our lot is our brand new 32-passenger bus!  We’d also like to welcome clients Forest Heights and The Oregon Zoo to our latest contracted services.  The residents and employees of each of the respective organizations are a delight to have on our bus, and we promise to always give the best of customer service.

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