Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Green News

So, here's a brief round-up of Green News. Or at least, news to me!

I'm definitely going to plant some fiddlehead ferns this year so I can eat them next year. My garden an always use more ferns!

Apparently, "Virgin Atlantic thinks it can green commercial aviation with biofuels:"

When a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 took off for a 40-minute flight from London to Amsterdam Feb. 24, it represented an aviation breakthrough. For the first time a commercial airliner took aloft on other than fossil fuels. One of the plane's four engines was fired on a 20 percent biojet fuel blend. The aim of the test flight was to explore how a biofuel performs in high altitude cold temperatures...

The next test aims to validate sustainability. When the Air New Zealand test takes place, it will be with a second generation feedstock. Of the possibilities, two are worth noting: algae and jatropha. Both grow on non-agricultural land. Algae can employ saline water, and jatropha grows in dry conditions on degraded lands, in fact helping accumulate carbon in the soil. There are solid indications that biojet from jatropha or algae could provide massive amounts of fuel, and at costs lower than petroleum-based jet fuel.

Boeing's own presentation on alternative fuels shows that land use issues are part of the sustainable biojet program's DNA. "If the world airline fleet used 100% biojet fuel from soybeans, it would require 322 billion litres," the presentation says. At 560 liters of oil per hectare that would require 5,750 million square kilometers, about the size of Europe. But algae could produce up to 94,000 liters per acre, shrinking land requirements to 35,000 square kilometers, about a Belgium's worth of land.
From: BoingBoing. Great news, right!?

Know I find out that it's not just Aquaman who can talk to the whales! Yes, thanks to the Massachusetts Bay buoy network. It's a system of listening buoys that hear highly endangered right whales and tell big ships when to slow down. It's a real-time "whale zone" sign, designed to work like school crossing signs that get people to slow down when kids are bursting out of schools. I found this out on Blogfish.

And then this article, also from BoingBoing, about a new documentary about the world's water crisis. I'll have to check it out!

I've just watched Irena Salina's incredible, infuriating documentary FLOW: For Love of Water, a film about the often-invisible and underreported global water crisis. Ranging from widespread US contamination to the tragedy of developing nations who are forced by the World Bank to sell their water companies like Vivendi, Suez and Thames, who get sweetheart deals to offer substandard, overpriced monopoly water service, at terrible cost to human life.

Global water profiteering is at the center of a global healthcare crisis that kills more people than AIDS or malaria. The film shows the grim reality of water in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the USA. The mortality is awful, and not just from bad water or no water -- also from police forces in states like Bolivia who go to war against people whose water supply has been sold to foreign multinationals who are reaping windfall profits while they die.

In the US and Europe, the bottled water industry pulls in billions to sell products that are more contaminated and toxic than what comes out of the tap. The result is a gigantic mountain of empty plastic bottles that toxify the environment -- and three times more money spent on bottled water than it would take to solve the world's real water crisis. The companies like Nestle that pump out our aquifers use private investigators to harass people who sign petitions to stop them from pumping.

But it's not all doom and gloom -- low-cost, sustainable purification technologies like ultraviolet water-health run by village cooperatives can make dramatic development differences for the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, who are able to maintain their own systems without foreign involvement. Local activists all over the world and fighting back and winning public, non-profit ownership of their waterworks.

The companies that control our water control our lives. Without us even noticing it, we've handed the planet's destiny to a few companies with a plan to line their pockets by holding our survival hostage.

Flow is seeking signatures for a petition to the UN: "Article 31: Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance."

FLOW is on the festival circuit -- if you get the chance, see this film.

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