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Environmental News Wrap – June 16-21

Environmental News Wrap - Covering a dynamic EarthGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

Must Read of the Week:

  • Biomass energy has been touted as a smart way to deal with bio-refuse. The idea is being reexamined though because the act of burning bio-refuse is more damaging than any alternative. Also, the pay off for making biomass burning carbon neutral is 50-100 years away, and we need to address climate conditions now, not later.
  • A website called seesouthernforests.org has a great interactive map for learning about the composition of Southern Forests in the US and how they have been changed by humans. Check It Out!
  • Making tires more green has always been focused on performance and longevity. Now companies are starting to incorporate alternative materials. The greatest gains in decreasing the environmental impact of tires still lie with the original focus of performance and longevity. If we want tires we have to accept some environmental impact, humans will never be impact neutral or positive with needs like cars.
  • Oil spills do not stop oil lobbyists. The Washington Post covers the obvious and awkward.
  • The four-year-long drought in California is over, but politicians are wary of lifting restrictions. California is looking long term and wants to conserve this valuable resource that will become more valuable as we shape our climate and environment.
  • Amid the BP oil spill Obama calls for a focus on energy policy. Using this disaster as a diving board Obama is seizing the moment and doing what has been needed for a long time. Also, the $20 billion account that BP has created to compensate economic losers from the spill is unprecedented. In the Exxon Valdez spill Exxon lost the court case but continued on to appeal the punitive penalty and got it reduced from $5 billion to $500 million. Exxon spent about $5 billion on clean up and settlements. For BP to just put up $20 billion for grabs is an astonishing advance in the powers of the environmental movement.
  • Battery technology is always advancing. Technology Review explains how nanotechnology is changing the lithium-ion battery, the battery used in your cell phone and hopefully in the future, your car.
  • Afghanistan has received attention for something besides war for once. Apparently $1 trillion worth of minerals are extractable in Afghanistan. The Week calls this new media focus a sham. Whether or not it is a sham, encouraging a country devastated by war to also become a country exploited by the global demand for minerals is terrible. Do not ruin the people and then ruin their land.
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