Signs of Life :: Energy

Photo by Melissa Gasser Myers.


The U.S. has surpassed Germany as the world’s largest wind-energy producer. In Texas, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has turned to wind as the answer to the nation’s energy problems. Pickens has leased hundreds of thousands of acres for a wind farm in West Texas, where he plans to build the world’s largest wind farm to power the state’s cities. The wind energy can displace natural gas generation, Pickens believes, freeing it up to fuel cars and trucks. Pictured above, a single turbine blade is transported through Fredericksburg, Texas.



Climate Activists Set 350 ppm Target

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What will it take to avert dangerous levels of climate disruption? Scientists say atmospheric CO2 needs to be reduced from the current level of 385 parts per million (ppm) to no more than 350 ppm. Activists are taking up the call, pressing world leaders to set goals at the upcoming Copenhagen, Denmark, climate negotiations that can achieve the 350 ppm goal.

The effort is led by Bill McKibben and other climate activists who in 2007 coordinated Step It Up—a network of hundreds of nationwide citizen events. The group has adopted the name and website and is inviting people around the world, especially youth, to plant trees, organize bike rides, write letters, host pot lucks, all with the aim of raising awareness of the 350 ppm goal.

The number 350 is “the most important number in the world,” says a statement on the group’s website. “It contains, rightly understood, the recipe for a very different world, one that moves past cheap fossil fuel to more sensible technologies, more closely-knit communities, and a more equitable global society.”

—Noah Grant



Ireland and BC Ban Uranium Mining

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The governments of Ireland and British Columbia, Canada, have banned uranium mining, which contaminates water, soil, and air, and causes elevated cancer rates among miners and nearby residents.

Ireland prohibits nuclear power generation, so it “would be hypocritical to permit the extraction of uranium for use in nuclear reactors in other countries,” said natural resources minister Eamon Ryan.

British Columbia does not currently have uranium mines, although mining companies have their eye on the province. Earlier this year, the northern territory of Nunatsiavut placed a three-year uranium mining moratorium on Labrador Inuit land.

NH Joins Regional Cap and Trade Program

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New Hampshire recently became the 10th state to join a regional cap and trade program that will require power plants to purchase allowances for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2009. Money paid by utilities will be used to insulate homes, increase furnace efficiency, and for other conservation efforts.


“Just as thousands were drawn to … the Klondike in the late 1800s, the green energy gold rush is attracting legions of modern-day prospectors in all parts of the globe.”

Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, commenting on the release of a new U.N. report documenting a 60 percent rise in global renewable energy investment, to $148 billion at the end of 2007.


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