Throughout the semester this column has discussed many topics, from solar roads to tar sands. Over time those stories developed to become what they were and have developed further to become what they are now. The following is an update on some of these situations as well as a new demon to face: a gassy, rank creature from the depths of the Arctic Ocean.
A Dutch company Sola-Road will unveil a solar bike path in January of 2012. Solar roadways, Inc. of Idaho, who pioneered the technology, will have a prototype parking lot built in the spring when the snow melts. The race for the solar roadway is on.
Keystone XL Pipeline
After more than 1,200 arrests and 12,000 people surrounding the White House, the Keystone XL pipeline has been set back by the Obama administration for a 12-18 month review.
"The President deserves thanks for making this call. It’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash" said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. McKibben went on to say, "If this pipeline proposal re-emerges from the review process intact we will use every form of non-violent civil disobedience to keep it from ever being built."
"The bottom line is, when President Obama stands up to big oil, we stand with him," said Jane Kleeb, founder of BOLD Nebraska.
The Greenhouse Project in Stevens Point is moving along with hard work and dedication from volunteers and staff. The Greenhouse Project will open its doors officially some time in 2013.
"There’s 31,000 square feet of dilapitated building here, and that’s really the bottom line," said Marcus Decker.
This Wednesday, December 21, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Agnes Jone Interior Architecture Gallery students in the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point Interior Architecture program will be highlighting design work in the community. One of Katja Marquart’s classes spent the semester working on the space planning and usage of the front of the greenhouse facility. This class will be presenting their thoughts and ideas that have developed over the semester. For more information consult The Greenhouse Project’s Facebook page.
Even with the short rainy season and aid, the famine in Somalia is still threatening starvation for some 250,000 people. Malnutrition rates are extremely high at three times what the United Nations considers the emergency threshold.
A project to resettle some 4,000 willing families has begun. Families are provided with three months worth of food, shelter material and $100-150 US dollars.
"We are just at the beginning of a phase of a potential recovery if everything goes well," said Luca Alinovi, head of the Somalia Office of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
A New Gassy Nightmare
Most scientists thought that this wouldn’t happen for years, if at all. Unfortunately, and I mean really unfortunately, they were wrong. As the Arctic Sea ice retreats from Siberia fountains of methane rejoice by bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean.
Apparently this is nothing new, but what is different is that these "plumes" have gone from tens of meters in diameter to kilometers in diameter. In what the scientists called "a small area" of 10,000 square miles, they have found over a hundred of these plumes bubbling up from the ocean floor and into the atmosphere.
Methane is reported to be 20 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so often methane is burned off to weaken the effects. Why not capture this methane, or natural gas, and burn it in CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, power plants and the like and get some use out of it instead of destroying America’s heartland extracting stable deposits? This is not the only region of the Earth where these methane deposits are located and have potential for climate change related release. We need to find a way to deal with these now before they vastly accelerate global warming to uninhabitable levels.