Editorial page advice from the budget minister of France:
The choice of nuclear power dates back to the end of World War II. With insufficient fossil fuel reserves, our country very early on invested in energy alternatives. The two oil crises of the ’70s convinced us to accelerate the construction of facilities to produce safe and economically profitable nuclear energy. That strategy paid off: In 30 years, France’s energy independence has risen from 30% to 50%. While turning toward nuclear energy might have seemed unusual 60 years ago, I believe that it was an especially visionary choice. The development of nuclear energy enabled us to meet several objectives: energy independence and security of supply, and competitive, stable energy prices. This nuclear option is also an economic and commercial asset for our country, whose capabilities in this cutting-edge area are world-renowned. (p. A20)
JEAN-FRANCOIS COPE. "Energy a la Francaise." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., October 5, 2005): A20.
The New York Times devoted more than two full pages to the advantages of the melting of the Arctic ice cap. Here is a short excerpt:
(p. A1) By Mr. Broe’s calculations, Churchill could bring in as much as $100 million a year as a port on Arctic shipping lanes shorter by thousands of miles than routes to the south, and traffic would only increase as the retreat of ice in the region clears the way for a longer shipping season.
With major companies and nations large and small adopting similar logic, the Arctic is undergoing nothing less than a great rush for virgin territory and natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Even before the polar ice began shrinking more each summer, countries were pushing into the frigid Barents Sea, lured by undersea oil and gas fields and emboldened by advances in technology. But now, as thinning ice stands to simplify construction of drilling rigs, exploration is likely to move even farther north.
Last year, scientists found tantalizing hints of oil in seabed samples just 200 miles from the North Pole. All told, one quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources lies in the Arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The polar thaw is also starting to unlock other treasures: lucrative shipping routes, perhaps even the storied Northwest Passage; new cruise ship destinations; and important commercial fisheries.
“It’s the positive side of global warming, if there is a positive side,” said Ron Lemieux, the transportation minister of Manitoba, whose provincial government is investing millions in Churchill.
For the full story, see:
CLIFFORD KRAUSS, STEVEN LEE MYERS, ANDREW C. REVKIN and SIMON ROMERO. “As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound.” The New York Times (Mon., October 10, 2005): A1, A10-A11.
Simply put, operators of garbage dumps are stuffing more waste than anyone expected into the giant plastic-lined holes, keeping disposal prices down and making the construction of new landfills largely unnecessary.
The clearest winner in this development is the City of New York, which exports 25,000 tons of trash a day to other cities and states, making it the waste industry’s biggest customer. But the benefits stretch coast to coast and will continue for years to come.
The productivity leap is the second major economic surprise from the trash business in the last 20 years. First, it became clear in the early 1990’s that there was a glut of disposal space, not the widely believed shortage that had drawn headlines in the 1980’s. Although many town dumps had closed, they were replaced by fewer, but huge, regional ones. That sent dumping prices plunging in many areas in the early 1990’s and led to a long slump in the waste industry.
Since then, the industry and its followers have been relying on time – about 330 million tons of trash went into landfills in the United States last year alone, according to Solid Waste Digest, a trade publication – to fill up some of those holes, erase the glut and send disposal prices skyward again. Instead, dump capacity has kept growing, and rapidly, even as only a few new dumps were built.
How could that be? Waste companies and municipalities have fit much bigger dumps than originally permitted onto existing acreage, piling trash deeper and steeper, and vastly expanding permitted capacity. They are burying trash more tightly, so that each ton takes up less space, increasingly using giant 59-ton compacting machines guided by global positioning systems that show the operator when he has rolled over a section of the dump enough times. They cover trash at the end of the day, to keep it from blowing away, with tarps or foam or lawn clippings instead of the thick layers of soil that formerly ate up dump capacity.
Some operators are blowing water and air into landfills to hasten rotting and thus the shrinkage of buried garbage piles, creating more capacity.
Each practice is fairly prosaic, and many operators have yet to adopt the improved methods, but taken together the waste industry is in the early stages of the kind of increase in efficiency more typically seen in technologies like computer chips and turbines that generate electricity.
Jeff Bailey. “Waste Yes, Want Not: Rumors of a Shortage of Dump Space Were Greatly Exaggerated.” New York Times (Fri., Aug. 12, 2005): C1 & C3.
Science doesn’t always work this way, but sometimes it does, and it would be good if it did more often.
The phonex had nothing on the ivory-billed woodpecker.
It is hard to keep track of how many times this near-mythic bird, the largest American woodpecker and a poignant symbol of extinction and disappearing forests, has been lost, and then found. Now it is found again.
Even the most skeptical ornithologists now agree. They say newly presented recordings show that at least two of the birds are living in Arkansas
Richard O. Brum, an ornithologist at Yale University and one of several scientists who had challenged the most recently claimed rediscovery of the ivory bill, said Monday after listening to the tape recordings that he was not “strongly convinced that there is at least a pair of ivory bills out there.”
Mark B. Robbins, an ornithologist at the University of Kansas, who had also been a skeptic, listened to the same recordings with a graduate students and said, “We were absolutely stunned.”
James Gorman and Andrew C. Revkin. “Vindication For a Bird And Its Fans.” New York Times (Tuesday, August 2, 2005): A10.
See also, the earlier: James Gorman. “Woodpecker Flies By and the Critics Soon Follow.” New York Times Section 1 (Sun., July 24, 2005): 1 & 21.
Cornell ecologist David Pimentel and Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering Tad W. Patzek have published a study that shows that, for corn, 29 percent more fossil energy is used in ethanol production, than the energy yielded by the ethanol output. In the Cornell web summary Pimental is quoted as saying: “There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel. These strategies are not sustainable.” See: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html
Pimentel and Patzek’s study was published in: Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).