Month: April 2007

Google goes back to maps showing Katrina damage –

That did not take long! – See here for background. I guess a little bit of outrage goes a long way, especially when it did not hurt google one bit to revert to the old pictures. All’s well with the world, we can now go back to worrying about Britney Spears!

Google goes back to maps showing Katrina damage –

Google Inc. is once again showing this city in ruins after the company came under fire for replacing post-Hurricane Katrina imagery on its popular map portal with views of the city as it existed before the storm.

An Associated Press article on Thursday highlighted the changes, leading a U.S. House subcommittee to accuse Google of “airbrushing history” for depicting a New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast without hurricane damage.

The new satellite imagery, which offers a bird’s eye view of the world, now shows post-Katrina New Orleans dotted by blue protective tarps on damaged roofs and the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood covered in debris.

Justices rule against Duke on pollution controls

Duke Energy, that is, not the Blue Devils!

The Supreme Court sure has a green tinge today! | Justices rule against Duke on pollution controls

The Supreme Court gave a boost today to a federal clean air initiative aimed at forcing utilities to install pollution control equipment on aging coal-fired power plants.
In a unanimous decision, the justices ruled against Duke Energy Corp. in a lawsuit brought by the Clinton administration, part of a massive enforcement effort targeting more than a dozen utilities.

Most companies settled with the government, but several Clinton-era cases involving more than two dozen power plants in the South and the Midwest are still pending. The remaining suits demand fines for past pollution that if levied in full would run into billions of dollars.

The justices ruled that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overstepped its authority by implicitly invalidating Environmental Protection Agency regulations in a way that favored Duke. The case now returns to the lower courts.

The appeals court’s decision “seems to us too far a stretch,” Justice David Souter wrote.

The enforcement program is aimed at reducing power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide that contribute to smog and acid rain. Sulfur dioxide is the leading cause of acid rain.

The utility industry has long resisted installing costly pollution controls under the program called New Source Review. It waged vigorous campaigns against the program starting in the 1980s and more recently by battling it out with regulators when sued in federal courts.

Split court rules against Bush on greenhouse gases –

Interesting, see here for background…. So, the Supreme Court has ruled that CO2 is a pollutant, good for them.

Split court rules against Bush on greenhouse gases –

The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.

In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.

Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.

The court’s four conservative justices — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — dissented.

Kennedy, swung left on this one! I stand by my original asseesment, just regulating cars using the clean air act is inadequate, but the important matter resolved here is that CO2 is a pollutant, and this will, I hope, provide precedent in cases to come.

Environmental Racism, Global Warming Edition

As armchair critics debate endlessly on the virtues and vices of carbon trading versus carbon taxes, they are in no danger of losing their armchairs (or their homes, or their money, or their livelihood). Africa and Asia, not so lucky.

Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms – New York Times

Two-thirds of the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that can persist in the air for centuries, has come in nearly equal proportions from the United States and Western European countries. Those and other wealthy nations are investing in windmill-powered plants that turn seawater to drinking water, in flood barriers and floatable homes, and in grains and soybeans genetically altered to flourish even in a drought. In contrast, Africa accounts for less than 3 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel burning since 1900, yet its 840 million people face some of the biggest risks from drought and disrupted water supplies, according to new scientific assessments. As the oceans swell with water from melting ice sheets, it is the crowded river deltas in southern Asia and Egypt, along with small island nations, that are most at risk.

I read another story about Bangladesh recently, apparently in Bangladesh, there will be both flooding and drought due to cimate change!

We are fighting climate change on the front line,” Professor Nishat
told The Independent earlier this year. “But the battle has to be
integrated across all countries.”

Bangladesh has good reason to feel aggrieved at global warming. Its
annual carbon emissions only 0.172 tons per capita, compared to 21 tons
in the US.

If the rivers dry up, it would leave Bangladesh completely at the mercy of the rains.

What is to be done? There are no simple answers, but this is a global issue that requires a global solution. There needs to be a relentless push for efficiency and conservation, with technologies being made available sans intellectual property and patent protection to help India and China control emissions. Efficiency is where the low hanging fruit are. This wikipedia article is a decent compendium of options.

Europe has started on the control path already. The U.S has to act, will it do anything this year? Or do we have to wait for this? I am very cynical about the West’s ability and willingness to act in this regard. When the prime contributors and benefiters of a harmful action are not the same as the ones who will face the worst consequences, where’s the will? As life in the third world becomes more miserable, the rich countries can always build more walls.

No fun and games here!