November 2010 Archives

NORFOLK, Va. -- In this section of the Larchmont neighborhood, built in a sharp "u" around a bay off the Lafayette River, residents pay close attention to the lunar calendar, much as other suburbanites might attend to the daily flow of commuter traffic. Green A blog about energy and the environment. Go to Blog » Enlarge This Image Matthew Eich for The New York Times William Stiles, executive director of Wetlands Watch, believes such projects are futile in the face of rising sea levels. Readers' Comments Readers shared their thoughts on this article. * Read All Comments (162) » If the moon is going to be full the night before Hazel Peck needs her car, for example, she parks it on a parallel block, away from the river. The next morning, she walks through a neighbor's backyard to avoid the two-to-three-foot-deep puddle that routinely accumulates on her street after high tides. For Ms. Peck and her neighbors, it is the only way to live with the encroaching sea. As sea levels rise, tidal flooding is increasingly disrupting life here and all along the East Coast, a development many climate scientists link to global warming. But Norfolk is worse off. Situated just west of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, it is bordered on three sides by water, including several rivers, like the Lafayette, that are actually long tidal streams that feed into the bay and eventually the ocean. Like many other cities, Norfolk was built on filled-in marsh. Now that fill is settling and compacting. In addition, the city is in an area where significant natural sinking of land is occurring. The result is that Norfolk has experienced the highest relative increase in sea level on the East Coast -- 14.5 inches since 1930, according to readings by the Sewells Point naval station here. Climate change is a subject of friction in Virginia. The state's attorney general, Ken T. Cuccinelli II, is trying to prove that a prominent climate scientist engaged in fraud when he was a researcher at the University of Virginia. But the residents of coastal neighborhoods here are less interested in the debate than in the real-time consequences of a rise in sea level. When Ms. Peck, now 75 and a caretaker to her husband, moved here 40 years ago, tidal flooding was an occasional hazard. "Last month," she said recently, "there were eight or nine days the tide was so doggone high it was difficult to drive."
Read the entire post in the New York Times

Exponential glacier melt now being observed

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Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.

But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.

As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 -- an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.

And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.

The scientists say that a rise of even three feet would inundate low-lying lands in many countries, rendering some areas uninhabitable. It would cause coastal flooding of the sort that now happens once or twice a century to occur every few years. It would cause much faster erosion of beaches, barrier islands and marshes. It would contaminate fresh water supplies with salt.

In the United States, parts of the East Coast and Gulf Coast would be hit hard. In New York, coastal flooding could become routine, with large parts of Queens and Brooklyn especially vulnerable. About 15 percent of the urbanized land in the Miami region could be inundated. The ocean could encroach more than a mile inland in parts of North Carolina.

Abroad, some of the world's great cities -- London, Cairo, Bangkok, Venice and Shanghai among them -- would be critically endangered by a three-foot rise in the sea.

Climate scientists readily admit that the three-foot estimate could be wrong. Their understanding of the changes going on in the world's land ice is still primitive. But, they say, it could just as easily be an underestimate as an overestimate. One of the deans of American coastal studies, Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University, is advising coastal communities to plan for a rise of at least five feet by 2100.


Read the full article in the  New York Times


NFL leading on Renewable energy

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles are taking their gridiron off the grid.

The team said Thursday that it will add wind turbines, solar panels and a cogeneration plant at Lincoln Financial Field over the next year, a combination that will make the stadium self-sufficient and let the Eagles sell some power back to the electric grid.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said the plan was part of the Eagles commitment to be a socially responsible organization.

"Owning an NFL team, I think you have an opportunity to lead the way," Lurie told The Associated Press. "It's a public building seen across the country and, sometimes, the world."

Under the plan, approximately 80 spiral-shaped wind turbines will be mounted on the stadium's roof and 2,500 solar panels attached to the stadium's facade. Together, they will contribute an estimated 30 percent to the total energy production.

An onsite "dual-fuel" cogeneration plant, a small power plant that captures its heat for increased efficiency, powered by biodiesel and natural gas will contribute the rest of the energy. The system is designed to produce at least 8.6 megawatts of power, enough to meet the stadium's peak energy use of around 7 megawatts.

The construction project will employ an estimated 200 workers over the course of the next year.

SolarBlue, an Orlando, Fla.-based renewable energy company, will pay $30 million to install and run the system for 20 years. The team will pay the firm for its power, the cost of which will increase at a fixed 3 percent annual rate.

The project is expected to be finished by September, and the team estimates it will save $60 million in energy costs.


read entire story at Huffington post

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