Wednesday, 30 January 2013

BBC E-mail: Shell 'partly liable' for spills

New development on our Niger Delta cast study guys. Not much has been done only one case of compensation give out but thought it might be useful.


** Shell 'partly liable' for spills **
A Dutch court rules that a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell is partially responsible for oil pollution in Nigeria's Niger Delta region.
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Solving Problems in Alaska

Due to the constant snowfall and arctic conditions in Alaska, the build up of snow on top of many people's roof tops can cause ice dams which are often a major inconvenience to people living in cold environments. These ice dams can cause leaks in homes which can cause major structural damages to homes in cold environments. The Alaskan people have come up with a solution in order to prevent these ice dams from causing harm by inventing Removable snow guards which sit on top of a roof. The Removable Snow Guard allows you to control the snow load on your metal roof. When these guards are installed on a metal roof they do two things, keep snow from sliding off and create ice dams. The removable Snow Guard can keep over two feet of snow from sliding off a metal roof. When you stop the snow from sliding off a rood, ice dams will form. The removable snow barrier of the Alaskan Snow guard allows you to remove the ice dams any time they might become a problem, thus preventing any leaks that could cause inconvenience along the way.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Covering Glaciers with blankets

At the top of Andermatt ski resort in Switzerland lies the Gurschen glacier and glacial melting is a problem for ski resorts as the melt water falls onto their slopes and melts them and also a melting glacier is not safe for people to ski on, this then looses the resort money and also is harming the cold environment. To combat this scientists have developed a synthetic material that covers over 2500 meters squared effectively becoming a giant glacial blanket but instead of warming up the glacier (as this would be ridiculous and counter-productive) the material reflects that Sun's UV rays that land on the glacier back into the atmosphere preventing it from melting. The glacial blanket is however still in the testing stages and is heavily criticized by the WWF but if it works it will become used more widely.


Electric cars in Norway

Norway Electric Cars Case Study

More Nissan Leaf cars were bought in Norway than in the entire United States during 2012, despite the US having a population 60 times larger.

During 2012 there were over 10,000 sales of electric vehicles, taking them to approximately 5.2% of all vehicle sales.

Electric vehicle sales are so high in Norway that the Nissan Leaf is number 13th out of the top 20 best-selling cars in the country.

How did Norway achieve such high electric vehicle sales?

So called "Comfort Incentives":

Its capital city, Oslo, allows electric vehicle drivers to use bus lanes, escaping rush hour traffic.
In Oslo parking spaces are free for electric vehicles.


Norway contains over 3,500 charging stations.
Of the charging stations, 100 of them are "fast-charging posts"

Economic Incentives

Import taxes on fuel in Norway make electric vehicles affordable and similar to petrol and diesel based vehicles.

It turns out Norway's low carbon population aren't too concerned about being green

A "green car" organisation called Gröna Bil conducted a study which found that only about 5% of drivers would choose EVs for green reasons.

The rest of drivers would only consider the low carbon alternatives if the price, convenience and comfort offered were just right.

It has also been predicted that the number of electric vehicles will continue to increase to 200,000 by 2020.



EU Clean Fuel Strategy

EU proposes "Clean Fuel Strategy" following an increase in estimated low carbon vehicle sales

During 2012 in Europe, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid cars and electric cars accounted for just 0.7% of automotive sales. However, alongside incoming EU regulation to create infrastructure and force development, sales of low carbon vehicles are estimated to rapidly increase over the incoming years.

EU Clean Fuel Strategy

On the 24th of January last Thursday, Commission Vice President Siim Kallas revealed the launch of the EU Clean Fuel Strategy, to be reached by 2020. The plan will cost €10 billion mostly funded by industry and intends to tackle the lack of infrastructure for low carbon vehicles.

The plan has set out quotas to increase the number of filling stations for electric, hydrogen, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas.

So what does this mean for the UK?

An increase in the number for electric vehicle charging points from 703 last year to 1.22 million (Germany: 1,937 to 1.5 million, France: 1,600 to 970,000).
A maximum distance between hydrogen refuelling stations of 300km to tackle "range anxiety".
A maximum distance between liquefied natural gas terminals of 400km for trucks.
A maximum distance between compressed natural gas points every 150km.

Common standards for hydrogen, CNG and LNG filling stations should be developed by December 2015.

Electric Vehicles

The verdict of a study by Pike Research has forecasted that the percentage will leap to a 4% share of the market by 2020 to 827,000 vehicle sales annually within the EU.

The website has also predicted a large increase in sales and recently told the Observer it expects the total number of electric cars in the UK to double from around 3,000 to 6,000 in 2013, as cheaper models go on sale and more charging points are installed.

The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden are estimated to purchase the most electric cars within the EU, accounting for 67% of the market.

What are the benefits of driving electric?

Some electric vehicles cost as much as a quarter per mile to drive compared to petrol and diesel vehicles.
The UK government offers a £5,000 grant to help people buy an electric vehicle (launched in January 2011).
They are generally silent, removing associated noise pollution.
They are becoming increasingly affordable (for example Renault's £13,650 ZOE, which comes with a £70 monthly battery hire fee)

Prices of electric cars are decreasing rapidly, for example the Nissan Leaf recently dropped in price by £3,800.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Electric vehicles are viewed as inferior by many when compared to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These vehicles are powered by combining hydrogen with oxygen from the air.

So why are they superior to electric? (Benefits)

They can fill up in minutes at a hydrogen pump, much like a petrol one, compared to many electric cars which can take up to 8 hours to recharge.
And they do not have the "range anxiety" experienced with electric vehicles as they can drive several times more than the average 160km electric battery vehicle.

If superior, why aren't sales taking off?

These vehicles are seriously expensive, and are still too expensive for the average consumer.
There is currently little infrastructure for these vehicles, the oil companies owning petrol stations are yet to jump on board and install pumps.
Unlike electric cars and plug-in hybrids they cannot be charged at home via an electric plug, normally this takes place over night as it takes several hours.

Luckily though businesses within the EU are storming ahead with plans to develop infrastructure for these vehicles. For example Daimler has joined with gas company Linde to install 20 hydrogen filling stations in Germany.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been notoriously expensive and are not yet as cheap as electric vehicles, however prices are significantly lowering. For example the South Korean group Hyundai has revealed expectations to halve production costs for these vehicles to £29,300.


So it seems there are increasing sales of low carbon vehicles, particularly for electric cars. However taking into account the Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles practicality, if the price drops to that of electric vehicles it will be interesting to see which comes out on top.

At least the EU is taking the important steps to reduce our dependence on oil.



Antarctic Fish Under Threat

A Yale-led study of the evolutionary history of Antarctic fish and their "anti-freeze" proteins illustrates how tens of millions of years ago, a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions – and how today they are now endangered by a rapid rise in ocean temperatures.
"A rise of 2 degrees Centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage, which is so well adapted to water at freezing temperatures," said Thomas Near, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
Anti-freeze chemicals confer protection
The successful origin of these fish and their diversification into 100 different species, collectively called notothenioids, is a textbook case of how evolution operates. Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History has one of the most important collections of these specimens in the world.
A period of rapid cooling led to mass extinction of fish acclimated to a warmer Southern Ocean. The acquisition of so-called antifreeze glycoproteins enabled notothenioids to survive in seas with frigid temperatures. As they adapted to vacant ecological niches, many new species of notothenioids arose and contributed to the rich biodiversity of marine life found today in the waters of Antarctica.
Notothenioids account for much of the diversity in the fish to be found in the Antarctic region, and they also play a key role in the food chain, being hunted by larger predators, including penguins, toothed whales, and seals. However, the new study suggests the acquisition of the antifreeze glycoproteins 22 to 42 million years ago was not the only reason for the successful adaptation of the Antarctic notothenioids. The largest radiation of notothenioid fish species into new habitats occurred at least 10 million years after the first appearance of glycoproteins, according to this study.
"The evolution of antifreeze was often thought of as a 'smoking gun,' triggering the diversification of these fishes, but we found evidence that this adaptive radiation is not linked to a single trait, but to a combination of factors," Near said.
Their vulnerability today
Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas. This evolutionary success story is threatened by climate change that has made the Southern Ocean around Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The same traits that enabled the fish to survive and thrive on a cooling planet make them particularly susceptible to a warming one, notes Near.
"Given their strong polar adaptations and their inability to acclimate to warmer water temperatures, climate change could devastate this most interesting lineage of fish with its distinctive evolutionary history," Near explained.

J. Phillips

Is the UK uniquely bad when it comes to dealing with snow?

For the third year in a row the UK has suffered snow induced chaos, but why can't we cope?
One fundamental reason is the cost. The cost of grit, its storage and gritting machines is apparently too high to completely clear every road in Britain.
But how do countries such as CANADA cope?
Let's use airports as an example.  HUNDREDS of thousands of stranded UK air passengers could have been spared misery if airport bosses had planned better for the cold snap, according to an aviation expert.
Airports in CANADA allow planes to land and take off with minimal disruption.
They are equipped with snow ploughs and under-runway heating mechanisms. They anticipate the bad weather quicker than we do. They do get much longer periods of bad weather but they invest in making sure they have got many snow ploughs on standby and people to clear the runway quickly.
The situation in the UK was preventable. This could have been planned for. The weather has been changing predictably and Gatwick doesn't seem to have anticipated this. Snow has fallen earlier each year and it needs to plan for that.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Yakutsk Management

With the Lena River being navigable in the summer, there are various boat cruises offered, including upriver to the Lena Pillars, and downriver tours which visit spectacular scenery in the lower reaches and the Lena delta.
Many mining companies have offices in Yakutsk including ALROSA, whose diamond mines in Yakutia account for about 20% of the world's rough diamond output.
Yakutsk is also home of some theatres and museums such as Sakha theater and the Mammoth Museum to keep people involved in the community
Yakutsk State University is situated in the city there are also branches of the Russian Academy of Sciences to provide opportunities for the young due to the difficulty of travel.
A Ciuro

Saas Fee resort management schemes

The ski resort of Saas Fee has adopted sustainable measures with enthusiasm in its efforts to preserve its natural and cultural heritage. Restrictive building and zoning laws, its commitment to take environmental concerns, makes Saas Fee a pioneer in the Swiss Alps. Saas Fee applies a fee based on the 'polluters pay' principle. Polluters pay forcing hotel and shop owners to pay for each rubbish bag produced has significantly reduced the amount of litter, encouraging hotel and shop owners to recycle. Due to that, there are number of social and economic benefits- the towns are quieter, cleaner and more desirable to tourists as a result therefore injecting more money into the local economy.
Saas Fee ski resort sustainability by M. Skavronskiy