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Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Review; Nature, Ecology, Environment and Clean Energy Investing

The end of the Bush era was a wild ride for ecologists and clean green energy investments, as the highs of early in the year gave way to waves of crashing corrections, resulting in alternative energy stocks off 60% to 80% and more from their peaks. With oil plummeting from $140 to $35 while the stock market was being halved, the world's most promising companies took it on the chin.

Look for green energy stocks to be among the stock market's leading performers in 2009. Some names to keep an eye on include Vestas, Ormat, Suzlon, FSLR, LDK Solar, GT Solar and many more. Here are some environmental, ecological and alternative energy related online stories and web articles from 2008:

2008 Wind Energy Summary - Dec 28, 2008

2009 Investing Ideas: Guide to Green Energy Mutual Funds - Dec 7, 2008

Pollution in Asian megacities threatening food production, human health - Nov 18, 2008

Obama Win a Blessing for Ecology and Clean Energy Stocks - Nov 4, 2008

CCD link to neonicitinoids; honey bees ccd multiple causes - Oct 25, 2008

DOE wants USA to increase wind to 20% of electricity requirements - Oct 12, 2008

Alphabetical Guide to Best Alternative Energy Websites Blogs - Oct 5, 2008

Green Energy Stocks Investments; Fifty Top Clean Power Companies - ct 4, 2008

Nature, Ecology and Renewable Energy Books for sale online - Sep 20, 2008

TD Canada Shoreline Cleanup for Toronto and other waterfront communities - Sep 19, 2008

300 new coral species found off Australia, new iguana in Fiji - Sep 19, 2008

5 Top Geothermal Energy Stocks - Best Geothermal Power Investments - Sep 5, 2008

What is Geothermal Power? Globe-net.com online article - Aug 24, 2008

Geothermal power investments incl stock symbols for publicly-traded geothermal stocks - Aug 24, 2008

Google.org venture capital: Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) - Aug 23, 2008

Alternative Energy Investing News; clean green power websites - Aug 14, 2008

Geothermal power / cogeneration stocks, water purification / desalination - Aug 12, 2008

Native bees on to Vancouver Island are super-efficient pollinators - Aug 3, 2008

Geothermal Power offers huge untapped potential - Jul 20, 2008

Toronto Zoo in campaign to save frogs from chytrid fungus - Mar 2, 2008

Online Guide to trees that produce the most oxygen - Jan 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pollution in Asia threatening food supply, human health

The Toronto Star article excerpted below illustrates in a profound way that we need to green up not just the energy supply, but the entire economic cycle. Green energy companies will lead the way, but all firms promoting and practicing green, ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable business must be considered as worthy investment targets for evaluation.

hazy brown clouds in Asia threaten food, health

Latest UN report covers 7-plus years of findings


BEIJING–Thick brown clouds of soot, particles and chemicals stretching from the Persian Gulf to Asia threaten health and food supplies in the world, the UN reported yesterday.

The regional haze, known as atmospheric brown clouds, contributes to glacial melting, reduces sunlight and helps create extreme weather conditions that affect agricultural production, said the report commissioned by the UN Environment Program.

The huge plumes have darkened 13 megacities in Asia – including Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Cairo, Mumbai and New Delhi – sharply "dimming" the amount of light by as much as 25 per cent in some places.

Caused by the burning of fossil fuels, wood and plants, the brown clouds also play a significant role in exacerbating the effects of greenhouse gases, the report said.

"Imagine for a moment a three-kilometre-thick band of soot, particles, a cocktail of chemicals that stretches from the Arabic Peninsula to Asia," said Achim Steiner, United Nations undersecretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Program.

Some particles in the clouds, such as soot, absorb sunlight and heat the air. That's led to a steady melting of Himalayan glaciers, the source of most of the continent's major rivers, the report said. At the same time, the clouds have also helped mask the full impact of global warming by helping cool the Earth's surface and tamp down rising temperatures by between 20 to 80 per cent, the study said. That's because some of the particles reflect sunlight and cool down the air.

The latest findings, conducted by an international collaboration of scientists over seven-plus years, are the most detailed to date on the brown cloud phenomenon, which is not unique to Asia. Other hotspots are seen in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America.

Full article at: Toronto Star story on pollution in Asia

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Obama Victory a Blessing for Environment and Clean Energy Stocks

If you take a few minutes and visit the website that specializes in statistical analysis of USA Presidential election polls, www.FiveThirtyEight.com , add all the tossup states to McCain's safe and projected seats, and it looks like the United States of America will have a vibrant and aware new President.

Individual investors looking to benefit from the anticipated green energy stocks post-Bush rally may want to consider initiating dollar-cost averaging programs into a few different renewable energy mutual funds and green power exchange traded funds.

Here are a few renewable power investment funds for you to research, prices quoted as of NOV04 2008:

Clean Energy Mutual Funds / Green Power ETFs

New Alternatives Fund (NALFX)

Invests at least 25% of assets in common shares of companies which have an interest in alternative energy. $29.00

Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund A (CGAEX)

CGAEX invests in the alternative energy sector. Recently held and may still hold top global alternative energy stocks such as Vestas, FSLR, and Gamesa. $8.12

Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX)

Invests 80% in companies involved in the alternative energy and clean energy technology sectors. At 6.21, stock down over 60% from a high around $17. Recently held good positions in Ormat, Vestas, Nordex, EDF, SOLON and Iberdola, all major global competitors in the alternative energy sector.

Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF (GEX) Trust

Goal is to match performance of Ardour Global Index (Extra Liquid) (AGIXL) by investing in publicly-listed companies engaged in alternative fuels and clean energy technology and renewable power generation. At 28.17, down from 62; GEX was formerly a Van Eck Fund.

First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge US (QCLN)

Pursues investment results to match performance of equity index NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Liquid Series Index (the Index). Shares closed today at 14.33.

Powershares Cleantech (PZD) Portfolio

52 week high is 38.02; shares closed today at 20.04, up $1.37.

PowerShares Global Clean Energy (PBD) Portfolio

Based on the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index. Focuses on greener and generally renewable sources of energy and clean energy technology. At 14.52, down from 38.10, but up $1.47 on election day.

Publicly-listed Wind Energy Investment Funds

PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio (PWND)

Exposure to worldwide windpower industry, off from year high of 29.09, at 11.92 may be time to dollar cost average a position into this vehicle. Do some research and consult your investment advisor as to suitability for you.

PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (AMEX:PBW)

Attempts to match investment performance of WilderHill Clean Energy Index (the Index). $10.95

First Trust Global Wind Energy (FAN)

At 14.19 (up 12% today), seeks to track performance of ISE Global Wind Energy Index. Year's high was 31.50.

Solar Power Investment Funds

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Index (TAN)

Worldwide solar power index fund; now at 13.55, the shares have a 52-week high of 30.79, but are also up from their low of 7.77. Invests in many photovoltaic solar power companies.

Alternative Energy Stocks Investing Info

Green Stocks Investing Mutual Funds

PVintell.com Solar Photovoltaic Power Companies

Geotherma.info Geothermal Power Stocks Investing

WindIntell.com Top Wind Energy Investing Blog

WaterIntell.com Water Purification, Desalination; Energy From Water

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CCD link to neonicitinoids deepens; honey bees colony collapse disorder multiple causes

One of the most important issues requiring the attention of the new President of the USA will be ensuring the safety of the honeybee population and thus America's food crops.

From LandLineMag.com:

SPECIAL SERIES: Bee crisis – OOIDA member credited with discovery
Editor’s note: Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland searches for answers from OOIDA member David Hackenberg of Lewisburg, PA, who is credited with discovering colony collapse disorder or CCD, a mystery that is decimating bee hives worldwide. (To read Part One click here. For Part Two click here.)

Part Three: Lawsuit filed on behalf of honeybees

OOIDA Member and beekeeper David Hackenberg and other beekeepers he talks to regularly are worried that a seed treatment being used in corn and soybeans is slowly poisoning their bees. The treatment, known as neonicitinoid, is a nicotine-based product that became readily available in the U.S. around 2004, about the time he and other beekeepers started noticing a decline in their bees’ immune systems.

His beekeeper contacts in Canada started noticing problems with their bees in 2002, according to Hackenberg, after neonicitinoid insecticides were used on potato crops in Eastern Canada. Then clover was planted on that same land the next year for cover crop. The neonicitinoid wasn’t being used on crops in the U.S. at that point, so when his Canadian beekeeper friend called to tell him this new chemical seemed to be “killing his bees,” Hackenberg told him it was “probably just mites.”

But when the product started becoming widely used in the U.S. around 2004, Hackenberg said he started noticing his bees’ immune systems were weakening. It wasn’t until CCD hit his hives in 2006, though, that he focused on insecticides as a possible source.

In August of 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force it to disclose studies that were supposed to be done on the effect pesticides are having on honeybees.

In 2003, EPA granted a registration to a new pesticide called clothianidin, manufactured by Bayer CropScience. Josh Mogerman, public information officer for the NRDC, said registration came with a caveat that the company study its product’s effects on the bees.

Mogerman told Land Line Magazine in August that the NRDC filed the lawsuit only after the EPA failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, filed on July 17.

He said the EPA still has not provided the studies Bayer CropScience was to have completed at least two years ago. Those studies could be an important resource for scientists and researchers studying CCD.

“The federal government needs to do much more to address why these bees are dying and disappearing,” Mogerman said.

Germany and France have both banned the pesticide product, known as clothianidin, because of concerns about its impact on bees. CCD has also been reported in Canada and Italy as well.

The British Beekeepers’ Association is reporting that one in three honeybees did not survive winter and spring, although it has not yet been confirmed that CCD is the source of the problem.

Mogerman said scientists on staff at the NRDC say there is a possible connection between clothianidin and honeybees’ collapse.

“If you read up on what this product is supposed to do to pests, it is supposed to compromise their nervous system and limit their ability to navigate. And that’s one of the things that is central to CCD,” he said.

After losing a significant number of bees in the previous two seasons and having to pump a huge amount of money back in to keep his beekeeping business operating, Hackenberg has seen his fuel costs and operating costs go up as well.

“In the U.S., we truck a lot of bees,” he said. “Most people don’t have the foggiest idea what goes on and how much bee movement there is in this country.”

Currently, many beekeepers are planning to go to the West Coast for the almond pollination. Hackenberg estimates that beekeepers will truck between 1 million and 2 million hives of bees out to California this year to pollinate the almond crop. That breaks down to about 500 hives loaded on each truck.

There are few opportunities for backhauls when you are hauling bees, especially on short runs like to Maine for blueberry pollination, Hackenberg said. He said he’s paying on average about $3.50 per mile to get his freight moved.

Adee Honey Farms – one year later

Richard Adee of Adee Honey Farms owns the largest beekeeping operation in the U.S. He lost more than 40 percent of his bees that he trucked out to California in the fall of 2007 in preparation to pollinate the almond crop, which starts in early February.

Around Dec. 1, 2007, he said his bees were looking real “nice,” but Adee said things went downhill quickly from that point.

“All of a sudden they started collapsing through the rest of December and through most of January and early February, so it was a big hit,” he said. “We lost a lot of them before they started pollinating the almonds, so we had to scramble all over the U.S. to find bees to fill our contracts, which we were fortunate to do. That really takes a toll on a person.”

Online article about Beehives Colony Collapse Disorder - Part Three

Land Line Article Part Two: Toxic cocktail may be causing bee collapse

LandLineMag.com Article Part One: What’s happening to our bees?

From ResponseSource.com:

The honeybee crisis: paradoxical findings deepen the CCD mystery
Submitted by: Palam Communications
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Vita urges beekeepers to become more proactive to prevent bee deaths

Beekeeping practices must change to ensure that honeybees survive and thrive, says Dr Max Watkins of Vita (Europe) Ltd, the honeybee health specialist, following one of the worst honey harvests in the UK and Northern Europe for many years. Although poor weather conditions may have badly affected the harvest an array of unexplained research findings indicates a more sinister and long-term challenge.

In recent decades, beekeeping has had to change radically to cope with the arrival of the varroa mite, a honeybee parasite. Minimalist or reactive management is no longer enough. Now with the threat of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and other unexplained colony deaths, beekeepers must now become more vigilant and pro-active and use emerging pre-emptive bio-technologies from trusted sources to avert beekeeping catastrophe.

“Although the bad weather has had a significant impact on reducing this year’s UK honey harvest by something in the order of 30-50%, something more complex is afoot,” said Dr Max Watkins, Technical Director at Vita (Europe) Ltd. “I have never before seen so many paradoxical research findings and anecdotal reports in beekeeping.

“Although I firmly believe that varroa is at the core of the problem, the developing interplay of other factors while unsettling for beekeepers, is fascinating yet perplexing for researchers. The answers can only come from a thorough scientific approach. Investigations are underway across the globe and many suspects and accomplices are under suspicion – viruses once of little consequence are now becoming more prominent killers, but a clear pattern is elusive. One novel line of enquiry in Israel is focusing on “gene silencing” in an attempt to suppress the expression of bee viruses in the honeybee genome.

“Controlling varroa is now merely the first – and still absolutely essential – line of defence. Other action is also now necessary to keep colonies healthy. As a honeybee health company we are investing heavily in researching new bio-technologies and treatments. Already we have introduced two Vita Feeds to boost honeybee immune systems and all-round health, and we are now developing several new potential products which we expect will become vital weapons in the beekeeper’s armoury. One strand of our R&D is focusing on new alternative anti-varroa treatments and another is looking at ways of inhibiting microbes which are implicated in the death of colonies.”

The array of strange recent findings, many of them aired at the recent international conference of the Society of Invertebrate Pathology at the University of Warwick, UK, organised by Rothamsted IACR and sponsored by Vita, include:

Heavy bee losses are not new. They have been recorded several times during the history of beekeeping in the USA and Europe, with some symptoms similar to those attributed to what is currently termed Colony Collapse Disorder. Denis van Engelsdorp, Pennsylvania State Apiarist, USA recounted such experiences in American beekeeping history. Mike Brown of the National Bee Unit, UK, has also pointed out previously that largely unexplained heavy bee losses have occurred at intervals throughout Europe in the past. It may be that what is now termed Colony Collapse Disorder is not new at all, but is a variant of a recurring syndrome.

Viruses are implicated in CCD, but no single one has been identified as being “the cause”. Colonies with CCD apparently present with multiple viral infection, usually with four or more viruses: commonly Deformed Wing Virus (DMV), Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), and Acute Paralysis Virus (APV) out of a total of 18 viruses discovered widely in US honeybee colony samples.

Varroa and nosema are also implicated in CCD and varroa saliva is now known to destabilise the immune system of honeybees. Dr Diana Cox-Foster of Penn State University, USA discussed this briefly in relation to the impact of viruses and other secondary infections where the bee’s immune system is already compromised.

Viruses can be found in almost all hive contents – and even in pollen on plants – before it enters the hive. Other pollinators, including wasps and bumble bees, have also been discovered to be infected with IAPV and DWV.

Viruses don't always debilitate: infection can be covert – Dr Elke Genersh of the Institut for Bee Research, Hohen Neuendorf, Germany showed that it depends on the threshold and the presence of infected varroa.

Full article on multiple causes of colony collapse disorder in beehives

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nature, Ecology and Renewable Energy Books

Books on Bees for sale online

Books on Trees and Forest Preservation

Nature and Ecology Books

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough, Michael Braungart

Earth The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming (Fred Krupp)

Farewell My Subaru; An Epic Adventure In Local Living by Doug Fine

Green Investing A Guide To Making Money Through Environment-Friendly Stocks by Jack Uldrich

Green Living For Dummies by Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, Michael Grosvenor

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by Daniel C. Esty (Author), Andrew S. Winston (Author)

Living Like Ed; A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life - Ed Begley, Jr.

Natural Capitalism; Creating The Next Industrial Revolution by Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America - Re-issued with new, bigger illustrations, by Roger Tory Peterson

A Safe and Sustainable World, The Promise of Ecological Design by Nancy Todd and John Todd

Silent Spring - Top selling environmental book by Rachel Carson

The World Without Us - Revealing bestseller by Alan Weisman

Books on Frogs and Amphibians

Green Power and Clean Renewable Energy Books

Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy by Jay Inslee / Bracken Hendricks

Careers in Renewable Energy by Gregory McNamee

The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook by Greg Pahl

Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics - Authors: Mary D. Archer / Robert Hill

The Clean Tech Revolution: Discover the Top Trends, Technologies, and Companies to Watch by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder

Coming Clean by author Michael Brune

The First Billion Is the Hardest; On a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future by T. Boone Pickens

Freedom From Oil: How the Next President Can End the United States' Oil Addiction by David Sandalow

Future Energy - by Author Trevor Letcher

Green Your Place In the New Energy Revolution by Jane Hoffman and Michael Hoffman

Profiting from Clean Energy - Author: Richard W. Asplund

Stirring It Up; How To Make Money And Save the World, by Gary Hirshberg.

Untapped; The Scramble For Africa's Oil by John Ghazvinian.

Books on Elephants, African Elephant Books, Indian Elephant Books

More renewable energy stocks investing info:

Wind Energy Stocks Info, Renewable Energy Investing Tips

Solar Power stocks investments, Alternative Energy Investing

Geothermal Power Stocks, Geothermal Energy Company Investing

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cassava, a calorie-rich root crop; Africa's great hope?

Easy to grow tuber offers Africa hope

TheStar.com - Opinion - August 15, 2008

by Carol Goar

We can be so clumsy in our enthusiasm, so destructive in our haste, that African development experts have learned to speak carefully in our presence.

Dr. Nzola Mahungu, one of Malawi's leading scientists, sees cassava, a calorie-rich root crop grown in tropical regions, as Africa's great hope. But he dared not describe it that way during a recent visit to Toronto. He might have set off a stampede of well-intentioned but overzealous aid agencies.

Instead, he outlined the benefits and challenges of commercializing cassava in almost clinical terms.

It is one of the most versatile plants in the world. It is drought resistant. It can grow in poor soil. It can be left in the ground for up to three years and harvested as needed.

It contains the highest concentration of starch of any food crop. Its leaves are loaded with proteins.

The tubers can be eaten (like potatoes) boiled, baked or fried. They can be milled into flour for making bread, crackers, pasta and tapioca. They can be fermented to produce alcohol. They can be ground into fibres for paper, textiles, adhesives and dry cell batteries. Or they can be added to animal feed.

The leaves can either be eaten (like spinach) or used to increase the protein content of animal feed. The stalks can be burned as firewood. The residue can be used to produce ethanol.

These properties have led some agronomists to call cassava a supercrop. Mahungu is more cautious. He and his colleagues at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture are acutely aware of its potential, but know the importance of ramping up production at Africa's pace, taking into account the needs and culture of its people.

Full Toronto Star article on cassava as super crop for Africa

TD Canada Shoreline Cleanup Initiative improving Toronto and dozens of other waterfront communities

Over 90,000 kilos of junk has already been pulled from waters across Canada. Here is a page from Vanaqua.org webpage for TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup describing what they do.

The TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a national conservation initiative that allows all Canadians to have a positive impact on their local environment.

More than just a program to pick up trash, we collect valuable data from each cleanup which then allows us to determine the major (and minor) causes of shoreline litter in each region.

Collecting the data makes the TD Canada Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup one of the largest contributors to the International Coastal Cleanup in the world.

All site coordinators who register through our website are sent a free 'Shoreline Cleanup Package' that provides all the necessary items to conduct their cleanup - including the data cards which are returned to the Vancouver Aquarium for tallying.

Once all the information is returned to the Vancouver Aquarium, all tallied information from across the country is then submitted to the International Coastal Cleanup for their worldwide stats and reference.

Further water conservation and water purification reading:

WaterIntell.com Water Technology Stocks Investing

300 hundred new colouful coral species discovered off Australia, new iguana species found in Fiji

An exciting discovery of 100s of new species near a reef off Australia delights and humbles the soul. Here is a story about this fascinating, enthralling underwater ecosphere, plus a report about a new igunana species found in Fiji:

Hundreds of new ocean species discovered near Australia

Research project studying marine life on reef off Australian coast

by Moira Welsh

Toronto Star Environment Reporter

A Canadian scientist leading a research expedition that studies marine life on Australia's Great Barrier Reef says hundreds of new species have been documented there – including 300 colourful soft corals and a parasite that eats the tongues of fish.

Researchers are analyzing and naming the marine life as part of an ongoing inventory of fragile reef ecosystems that will give scientists a baseline from which to judge whether species are thriving or dying from the impact of pollution and climate change, said Julian Caley, a University of Guelph alumnus.

"We went to places where people have been going for a long time ... so they were all very accessible places. And despite that, under our noses, we were picking up hundreds of new species," Caley said in a telephone interview from Australia.

"The important message is that there is an awful lot of stuff out there that we really don't know about."

Researchers left behind artificial homes – like underwater dollhouses – which they expect will become new residences for reef species. They plan to collect them over the next three years for future studies. The same structures will be placed in waters near Brazil, Hawaii and Pacific islands such as those of American Samoa.

Full Toronto Star article on new species discovered on Australia's reef

New species of iguana found in Fiji Islands

A team of Australian and US scientists have found a new species of iguana living in Fiji.

The newly discovered lizard is bright green with white bands, grows up to 90cm long and is thought to be highly endangered.

Associate Professor Scott Keogh from the Australian National University's School of Botany and Zoology said the iguana was the third species of the creatures known to inhabit Fiji.

Keogh said the origin of the Fiji iguanas, which have lived in the Fiji islands for millions of years, had long puzzled scientists.

He said they probably floated across the Pacific Ocean from the Americas 8,000 kilometres away, where all other iguana species live.

Full story on Iguana Discovery in Fiji Islands

More fun links:

Water Purification, Desalination, Tidal Energy, Wavepower

A Green Realtor Environmental Ecology Blog

Geotherma.info Geothermal Power Stocks Investments

Friday, September 12, 2008

Homework search engine, nature essay research links

Research nature and ecology studies, term papers, for environmental studies, endangered species, useful homework tool, find ecology articles, research science projects, find ecological websites, green energy info online, nature and environmental blogs, clean energy websites, environment websites, nature research, world wildlife studies, ecology movement, green politics, clean energy activists, environment movement, geothermal power, clean energy technology, environment and ecology research.

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Ike approaching Gulf Coast; links to Galveston Traffic cameras, Houston live webcams

Hurricane Ike slams into Texas on Saturday, September 13, 2008

Galveston live webcams, traffic cameras and video feeds of Hurricane Ike:

Twelve web cameras from Galveston Bay, Houston, Port Aransas and Matagorda

Eight Live webcams from Galveston.com

Twenty Houston traffic cameras, live webcams

Thursday, September 11, 2008

German researchers find 99% of dead bees contaminated with clothianidin,; Govt bans 8 neonicotinoids

Germany Bans Eight Pesticides from Neonicotinoid family, linked to Colony Collapse Disorder in Beehives

(NaturalNews) The German government has provisionally banned a family of pesticides conclusively linked to the massive dieoff of honeybees in a southern state.

"It's a real bee emergency," said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association, referring to the collapse of bee populations in the state of Baden-Württemberg. "Fifty to 60 percent of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."

Government researchers tested the bodies of dead bees, and found that 99 percent had been contaminated with the pesticide clothianidin, made by Bayer. The pesticide had been applied to the seeds of oilseed rape in the nearby Rhine River Valley.

Bayer blamed the dieoff on the improper application of the pesticide, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified as "highly toxic" to honeybees. Normally, seeds to be sprayed with clothianidin and similar pesticides are treated with a kind of glue so that the toxin sticks. In this case, Bayer said, the glue was not applied, allowing the poison to get into the air.

Clothianidin is a pesticide in the neonicotinoid family. This class of chemicals is applied to seeds and then spreads into all the tissues of the plant. Based on nicotine, the neonicotinoids are toxic to the nervous systems of any insect that comes into contact with them.

"We have been pointing out the risks of neonicotinoids for almost 10 years now," said
Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers. "This [incident] proves without a doubt that the chemicals can come into contact with bees and kill them. These pesticides shouldn't be on the market."

The German government, apparently in agreement, withdrew the licenses for eight neonicotinoid pesticides, including Bayer's best-selling insecticide, imidacloprid. If manufacturers submit evidence that the chemicals are safe for bees, however, the government may reinstate the licenses.

Full Text of NaturalNews.com story on Germany banning clothianidin

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav spares New Orleans, washes out Republicans

Hurricane Gustav left New Orleans with only minimal damage, including minor flooding in the Ninth Ward.

The following article is from NOLA.com:

Storm surge tests Industrial Canal floodwalls
by The Times-Picayune
Monday September 01, 2008, 5:37 PM
Although New Orleans escaped serious damage from Hurricane Gustav on Monday morning, winds of the Category 2 storm pushed a 12-foot storm surge into the Industrial Canal, sending waves sloshing over the western wall and triggering minor flooding in the Upper 9th Ward.

Gustav's landing point was 72 miles away near Cocodrie, a low-lying fishing community in Cajun country. Cocodrie is about 20 miles from Port Fourchon, a vital hub in the energy industry where huge amounts of oil and gas are sent inward via pipelines to refineries. There had been fears of extensive damage.

Although Gustav went ashore as a Category 2 hurricane, it weakened to a Category 1 storm by early afternoon.

By mid morning, water was splashing for several hundred yards over the western side of the Industrial Canal's floodwall near North Claiborne Avenue, said Jerry Sneed, New Orleans' director of homeland security and emergency preparedness.

The incident doesn't pose a major threat, Army Corps of Engineers officials said. Water levels had dropped 2 to 3 feet by mid afternoon near the Claiborne Avenue bridge, New Orleans police reported.

But after lower water levels were reported, other witnesses said waves continued to spill over the west floodwall at Florida Avenue, closer to the lake and near the junction with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

There was no apparent problem with the wall on the canal's eastern side. It was built stronger and 2 feet higher than the wall on the west side after Hurricane Katrina.

The walls are considered an integral part of the plan to protect the area from flooding caused by a "100 year" hurricane storm surge, a term meaning that the storm has a 1-in-100 chance of occurring in any year.

An emergency response plan is ready should part of the wall fail, Corps of Engineers officials said.

The Corps has available on short notice six barges filled with rock and several hundred filled sandbags, each of them the size of a car. The sandbags would be dropped by large helicopters. But weather conditions would have to be good enough to allow the helicopters to fly, officials said.

"If something cracked, you would try to patch it. If something big happened, like the breach at 17th (Street Canal during Katrina), Black Hawks would fling the sandbags," said Capt. Jason Royston of the Corps' emergency operations center. "We have contingency plans in place, but the plan used depends on the assessment."

On Monday, the spillage was landing on cement pads, which reduce its impact at the base of the wall.

"We're confident in the stability of that wall," which was fortified after Hurricane Katrina, said Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of Task Force Hope for the Corps.

Although water was splashing over the wall, "it is not a breach," she said.

Federal officials said the high-water threat along canal walls would not have been as great, except for an obstruction caused by a lowered railroad bridge over the canal.

Chris Bonura, spokesman for the Port of New Orleans, said the L&N Railroad bridge, also called the Almonaster railroad bridge, was lowered because it cannot withstand hurricane force winds. The controls for the bridge were underwater on Monday morning.

There were no signs of seepage on the eastern side of the canal near the Danziger Bridge.

Nevertheless, Col. David Gooch of the Louisiana National Guard said the guard would evacuate anyone who feared the wall will give way.

"Obviously, there's an interest in getting people out of there as soon as possible,'' he said, adding that people who want out of the area can flag down Guardsmen in the trucks.

Corps officials are posted in bunkers and pump stations near the Industrial Canal and will continue to assess the health of the floodwall, Durham-Aguilera said.

Staff writers Frank Donze, Sheila Grissett, Laura Maggi and Gordon Russell contributed to this story.

Back to work links:

Wind Energy Stocks, windpower investing

A Green realtor website

Water overflowing Industrial Canal into Upper and Lower Ninth Ward

USA Today UPDATE on Industrial Canal, Ninth Ward New Orleans:

Update at 11:10 a.m. ET: The Times-Picayune says a railroad bridge was left in the down position, helping boost water levels inside the canal. "What we're seeing is small overtopping, white caps,"Col. Al Lee, the Corps' local commander, tells the paper.

Original posting at 11 a.m. ET: The Times-Picayune just posted a photo that shows water flowing over a levee along the Industrial Canal in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Earlier, the paper reported that three vessels broke loose in that canal.

Mayor Ray Nagin tells WDSU-TV that levees along the Industrial Canal are being overtopped by the Hurricane Gustav storm surge. Water level at the canal was being measured at more than 11 feet high, according to Army Corps of Engineers data. The flood walls there are 11 feet high.

Overtopping levees is much less alarming than levee breaches, Nagin said.

(Photo by Lee Celano, Reuters.)

NOLA.com: Water coming over Industrial Canal floodwall
by The Times-Picayune
Monday September 01, 2008, 9:07 AM

The Army Corps of Engineers confirms that water is lapping over the Industrial Canal floodwall. Water is coming over the top in waves. Levee and Corps officials are assessing the floodwall.

The L & N railroad bridge across the Industrial Canal is in the down position, said Mark Lambert, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation and Development. That bridge is owned by the Port of New Orleans, but Lambert said DOTD has offered to send teams to the area to help raise the bridge.

Engineer Bob Turner, executive director of the East Bank Regional Levee Authority, said the bridge is causing a 3-foot backup of water in the canal. Turner has been in contact with the port and DOTD authorities about raising the bridge but it the controls are underwater.

Bonura said the bridge, built in 1919, is only able to handle winds up to 45 miles an hour, which means it cannot weather a hurricane in an upright position.

"Really, the public safety concern is that if it were raised during hurricane-force winds, the bridge could become unstable and fall on the floodwall or levee," Bonura said.

He also said that at the moment, there is no way to raise the bridge because the controls are under water and equipment can't be moved to the area.

It is the Port's usual protocol to keep these old railroad bridges in the down position during a hurricane, Bonura said. The canal is designed with that factor in mind, he said.

Col. Al Lee, New Orleans district commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, also said the wind is blowing water over the floodwall. "What we're seeing is small overtopping, white caps," he said. "The water is about 1 foot below the top of the wall. They say those walls have been significantly strengthened since Katrina and have slope paving to help prevent erosion."

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens and Parish President Craig Taffaro were on the Claiborne Avenue bridge, checking the water levels. Water was lapping over the wall on the Upper Ninth Ward side, but had not yet overtopped the side closest to the Lower Ninth Ward.

"It's better than seeing cement collapsing but it's not good," Taffaro said.

"We're worried about the pressure building up on this wall," he said pointing at the corner of the floodwall nearest to the Claiborne Avenue Bridge.

Full article: NOLA.com on water over Industrial Canal by Ninth Ward, New Orleans

Sunday, August 31, 2008

NEW Photos of Hurricane Gustav hitting New Orleans; Weather.com, NewOrleans.com links

September 1st, 2008 Hurricane Gustav UPDATE

As of Monday morning, damage in New Orleans was less than expected so far, but Grand Isle is reportedly under seven feet of water, and the storm continues to move west toward western Louisiana and the northeast Texas area. Shell Beach in New Orleans is said to have a 9-foot swell this morning.

Satellite photograph of Hurricane Gustav:

Satellite image showing Hurricane Gustav approaching New Orleans Sunday night:

Satellite image of Hurricane Gustav Monday 12.20pm EDT 01SEP08:

Here is a view down a main street of New Orleans from CNN.com:

CNN photo from Monday morning in New Orleans:

Photos from New Orleans traffic cameras Sunday night as Hurricane Gustav approaches

A Sunday night photo of Causeway Blvd illustrating the calm before the storm:

Causeway Blvd Monday morning:

Photo from New Orleans traffic camera looking along Canal Boulevard Sunday night August 31, 2008:

Monday morning, Canal Blvd:

Traffic camera at Power Blvd in New Orleans Sunday night shows emerging disturbance:

New Orleans interchange 610 and I-10, Monday morning:

New Orleans Clearview Parkway Sunday night:

Old Man River Cam is located at Poydras St. and Magazine St

Old Man River Cam in New Orleans Monday morning:

Follow the paths of Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna at Weather.com

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

NRDC alleges pesticide clothianidin linked to colony collapse disorder in beehives, sues Feds

Mysterious Honey Bee Disorder Buzzes into Court

From Environmental News Service

WASHINGTON, DC, August 19, 2008 (ENS) - The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Washington DC to force the federal government to disclose studies on the effect of a new pesticide on honey bees.

Studies on the pesticide, clothianidin, were ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from the pesticide's manufacturer, Bayer CropScience, in 2003 when the federal agency granted the company a registration for the chemical.

An NRDC bee researcher and the organization's attorneys believe that the EPA has evidence of connections between pesticides and the mysterious honey bee die-offs reported across the country called "colony collapse disorder," or CCD, that it has not made public.

The connection is important because commercial honey bees pollinate about 90 of the country's crops, valued at $15 billion. Apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, berries, peppers, squash, soybeans, almonds, cashews, and sunflowers all require or benefit from honey bee pollination.

The EPA has failed to respond to the NRDC's Freedom of Information Act request for agency records concerning the toxicity of pesticides to bees, prompting Monday's legal action.

"Recently approved pesticides have been implicated in massive bee die-offs and are the focus of increasing scientific scrutiny," said NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo. "EPA should be evaluating the risks to bees before approving new pesticides, but now refuses to tell the public what it knows."

"Pesticide restrictions might be at the heart of the solution to this growing crisis, so why hide the information they should be using to make those decisions?" Calangelo asked.

At an apiary by the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, bees fill the air as beekeepers examine hives for disease. (Photo courtesy Penn State)
The EPA has issued a fact sheet on clothianidin, one of a relatively new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids that impact the central nervous system of insects.

Full article on ENS-Newswire.com: Natural Resources Defense Council sues government over pesticide link to CCD

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Renewable Energy Investing News; green power website links

August 2008 links to renewable power articles in the news, recent alternative energy news, renewable power investing, recent stories on windpower, solar energy investments, geothermal energy stocks and water desalination, water purification, water technology company stocks.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bees native to Vancouver Island are ultra-efficient pollinators


from http://www.cvseeds.bc.ca/bees.htm

The Mason Bee can help pollinate our trees and crops


Honeybee populations on Vancouver Island are rapidly being destroyed by mites. Blue Orchard Bees (Orchard Mason Bees ­ Osmia lignaria) are native to our area and are 17 times as efficient at pollination of fruit trees as honeybees. These bees are not available to fertilize later food crops as the parent bees die in early summer.

Mason bees may well be able to take over the fruit tree pollination if we give a little help.

The bees are about 7/16” long and look like blue bottle flies except for having 4 wings rather than two. The male is a little smaller and has two longer antennae. The female has long belly hairs to hold pollen.
Cells for laying eggs


The bees emerge from their over-wintering nests in the spring after about three days of 14°C (57° F) maximum day time temperature. In nature, they generally have been in beetle-made holes or other similar narrow spaces. The males are the first to appear as they come from the outer portion of the “tube”. They feed briefly and await the females which come from the deeper part of the tube.

The natural emergence of these bees is generally around March locally, but this can vary artificially if the nests are man-made and are kept in cooler temperatures until the plum or early apple trees just begin to break into bloom. The nests are then moved to a warm location.

The females emerge 3-4 days later than the males, and fertilization occurs almost immediately. The males die soon afterwards without doing any pollination. The female gathers a little nectar and about 20 loads of pollen and builds a little pyramid inside a suitable nest site. Then a single egg is laid on its end in that mass of food. She then gathers about 10 loads of clayish soil and builds a wall which seals off the egg with its food supply. Hence the name, Mason Bee. This sequence is repeated until she has provisioned, laid, and walled-off about 30 eggs. The one female will fill two or three 6” holes with eggs.

It is useful to know that she will lay eggs into holes only to a maximum of about 6” deep. She will continue to lay eggs for only 5-6 weeks. Also, as the egg-laying process brings her to the last inch or two near the surface, she withholds sperm from the eggs she lays, thus the last eggs of one hole will develop into males, So males will begin to grow only in the area near the surface, while all the deeper laid eggs will produce females. For our purposes, it is important to understand that if we want a large majority of females to be born, shallow holes such as 3-4” deep, are almost useless—they will predominantly yield males which do not pollinate and are not needed in large quantities for population expansion. Thus, in our efforts to optimize the production of bees, it seems that 6” depth is ideal.

The newly laid eggs hatch into larvae in about three days and they devour their food for the next 25 days. Then they spin a cocoon inside of which they become adults before winter time. It is important that the nest not be moved or even vibrated much between March and the end of September (as the eggs and larvae will suffocate), at which time it can be moved to a garage or other unheated space until next spring.

Full article at:

How to Raise Orchard Mason Bees in BC

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Geothermal Energy offering massive untapped potential

Story from TheStar.com:

Geothermal Power offers huge potential to replace oil and natural gas

Canada has significant `earth energy' potential, but critics say it's not doing much about it

By Tyler Hamilton, Toronto Star Energy Reporter

Canada's obsession with "clean coal" and carbon capture technologies has left it blind to the vast potential of its own geothermal resources, says the head of one of the country's few publicly traded developers of geothermal power.

Gary Thompson, chief executive of Sierra Geothermal Power Inc. of Vancouver, said the neglect has left Canada a laggard among peers who view emission-free geothermal power as a strategic part of their electricity mix.

"We're one of the few countries with significant geothermal potential that's not doing anything about it," said Thompson, adding that the federal government has shown little interest, despite calls for more study. "It's rather disconcerting. They've really been letting Canadians down."

Thompson recently became vice-chair of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association in Calgary. He said he joined because geothermal "is not getting any love" in Canada and he wanted to create more public awareness of the potential.

It's a suggestion Natural Resources Canada disputes. "The Government of Canada supports increased supply of clean electricity from renewable sources, including geothermal," said department spokesperson Héloïse Perron, citing a government ecoENERGY program that supports up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity development from geothermal, wind, solar and other renewable power systems.

Critics, however, say the inclusion of geothermal power under a general program designed around renewables is not akin to specifically backing research and development of the resource.

"It's really a shotgun approach," said Michal Moore, former chief economist at the U.S. National Renewable Laboratory and a senior fellow at the University of Calgary's Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy.

Moore co-authored a study released last week, mostly focused on Alberta, that recommended geothermal be "subject to a co-ordinated and multi-faceted ongoing research program." It concluded that next-generation geothermal technologies could reduce or substitute for proposed clean coal or nuclear plants "at competitive prices."

But Thompson said more groundwork is needed. He said the association's first goal is to have Natural Resources Canada, through the Geological Survey of Canada, invest in a thorough assessment of the country's geothermal potential – something that hasn't been done in more than two decades. It's also preparing a policy white paper that will break down myths that have hindered development of the resource.

"A lot of politicians just don't understand it," Thompson said.

"In their view it has no potential."

Meanwhile, billions of dollars are being put into unproven technologies aimed at giving the oil sands and coal industry a greener image, he said.

Last week, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach announced plans for a $2 billion fund that would accelerate development of carbon capture and storage technology.

The geothermal power plants tap hot temperatures kilometres below the surface to create steam that spin turbines that generate electricity.

Conventional geothermal, or earth energy, facilities tend to be located in countries, including Canada, that lie along the so-called Ring of Fire – a region with shallow heat.

Though out of date, estimates for potential in Canada range from 3,000 to 6,000 megawatts, much higher as drilling and engineering costs fall.

Thompson's company has focused its efforts on Nevada because of U.S. incentives that help fund early drilling costs.

The U.S. also offers a production tax credit of two cents per kilowatt-hour, while Canada offers one cent.

"I had done a lot of research in Canada and after several years ended up banging my head against the wall," said Thompson, recalling the difficulty of getting support.

"We ended up looking at projects stateside."

It's a similar story for Nevada Geothermal Power Inc., Polaris Geothermal Inc. and Western GeoPower Corp., all Canadian-based companies that have done most of their development outside of Canada.

The only commercial geothermal power initiative under development in Canada is Western Geo's South Meager project in B.C.

Germany, on the other hand, is forging ahead with next-generation "enhanced geothermal" that will make it possible to develop the technology in more locations around the world.

In the U.S., the Department of Energy last month pledged to invest up to $90 million (U.S.) over four years into research related to enhanced geothermal systems.

More info: Geothermal Energy Investing

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dengue Fever spreading; early detection and replacement of fluids crucial


Dengue fever: spreading and often undiagnosed
Travellers are sometimes unaware they have contracted the illness, leaving them vulnerable to more dangerous subsequent infections


The Canadian Press

July 1, 2008

It goes by the nickname "break bone fever." And after his brush with dengue fever, Phil Day knows why.

Mr. Day, an expatriate Canadian living in Singapore, contracted the mosquito-borne viral disease in 2007 after years of working in cities across Asia. He and his wife, Karen, were both afflicted, struggling through an illness that left them exhausted and in pain.

While they were sick, they needed to be monitored for signs they were developing the severest form of the disease, a life-threatening hemorrhagic fever (neither did). That monitoring required them to go to hospital for daily blood tests. On one of those trips, Mr. Day saw a sight that embodied how he was feeling.

"We were waiting at a traffic light and this old guy, probably 90 years old or so, crossed the street with a cane. He was moving very slowly and every step looked painful," he recounts via e-mail.

"And I turned to my wife and said: 'That's it. That's exactly how I feel.' "

Dengue fever is a disease of warm climes; Canada's cold winters deter the virus from setting up shop here.

But the thousands of Canadians who travel to the wide swaths of the world where the virus does spread are at some risk of becoming infected with a virus that can trigger symptoms ranging from flu-like fatigue and aching joints to a hemorrhagic fever that can kill.

A newly published study looking at trends in dengue infections in travellers notes that the past 20 years have seen a marked expansion of the virus's turf, from Southeast Asia to the islands of the South Pacific, the Caribbean and the Americas. There have even been domestically acquired infections in the United States.

Dengue fever has become a more common diagnosis than malaria for ill travellers returning from tropical regions other than Africa, notes the study, published in the July issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

An analysis of cases reported to the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network, an international collaboration of specialized travel and tropical medicine clinics, shows that from October, 1997, through February, 2006, 522 of nearly 25,000 ill travellers seen at network clinics were diagnosed with dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever.

While that is only 2.1 per cent, it is also only a fraction of the cases that would have occurred during that period, says one of the study's authors, Kevin Kain. Not everyone who falls sick after a trip will end up at a travel clinic.

"Many people will have ... feverish illnesses that don't progress and they just stay at home," says Dr. Kain, director of the travel and tropical medicine clinic at Toronto's University Health Network.

"Or they present to their GP and no one ever does a confirmation test - no one ever does [blood testing]. So this is the tip of the iceberg, the cases we're seeing."

Anyone who has had dengue fever once faces a much higher risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever if they contract the disease again. Nine out of 10 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever occur in people who have previously had dengue fever, Dr. Kain says.

"The first time you get it you feel like you're going to die, but you survive. But it's the subsequent infections [that are dangerous]. So people want to know if they've actually had dengue, because then they're a little more apprehensive about subsequent exposures."

Every year, an estimated 50 million to 100 million people worldwide contract dengue fever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And several hundred thousand people come down with dengue hemorrhagic fever.

In Canada, 40 to 50 laboratory-confirmed cases of dengue fever are reported every year, in travellers who have visited parts of the world where the type of mosquito that spreads the virus are found.

Protecting against infection poses real challenges for travellers in these areas. There is no vaccine and, unlike for malaria, no pills that block infection. So it comes down to DEET-based insect repellents and luck.

The disease cannot spread from person to person directly, though mosquitoes become infected by drawing blood from an infected person and then pass the virus along.

The disease typically manifests itself with a high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and rash. Younger children usually suffer milder disease than older children and adults.

In a portion of cases, though, the hemorrhagic syndrome develops. Blood begins to pool under the skin and there can be bleeding from the nose and gums and even internal bleeding. Blood vessels become leaky, which can lead to blood loss, circulatory system failure, shock and death.

There are no drugs to combat the virus. But with good care - which largely involves replacing fluids - most people will survive. The earlier treatment starts, however, the better.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Toronto Zoo launches campaign to save frogs from chytrid fungus

article by Joanna Smith, TheStar.com

The Toronto Zoo chose "leap day" to raise awareness about an unprecedented crisis threatening amphibians around the world.

Cute gimmicks aside, zoo workers and local politicians gathered in front of frogs, toads and reporters yesterday to speak about the global amphibian problem and what they are trying to do about it.

"This is an extinction crisis that is unprecedented in the history of the world," said Bill Peters, national director of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Frogs and other amphibians have managed just fine for the past 360 million years, but now up to half of the 6,000 known amphibian species face extinction within the next few decades. Pollution, loss of habitat and overharvesting continue to be problems. But the big killer around the world is actually an infection called chytrid fungus.

"That fungus attacks the skin of the frogs. It can no longer take in oxygen or water and they die," said Bob Johnson, curator of reptiles and amphibians at the zoo.

About 120 species have already gone extinct and many others are threatened around the world.

The killer infection originated in South Africa and spread quickly throughout Asia, Central and South America, and has arrived in the United States and Canada.

Johnson said the disease is especially difficult to deal with because even natural conservation parks and other wildlife havens provide no protection against it.

The zoo declared 2008 the Year of the Frog to celebrate the opening of its amphibian breeding centre to the public. The zoo launched a breeding program for Puerto Rican crested toads in 1986 and has since released 52,000 of the animals, once thought to be extinct, back into the wild.

The zoo will also open a frog rescue centre this summer to increase the number of animals they will be able to quarantine from the fungal disease. "There is a worldwide effort of scientists trying to fix the problems in the wild and we're holding the animals here in trust so that they can go back hopefully in the near future," Johnson said.

Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield said the province is ironing out legislation to protect 128 plant and animal species.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Which trees produce the most oxygen?

An interesting question for sure, and though the answer is not yet known, in the excerpt below from an article / post by Anna Fraser, webmother of The-Tree.org.uk, she mentions that the contenders may include such diverse tree species as Monterey Pine, Hybrid Poplar, Eucalyptus and Fig:

Pick a tree that you are interested in and research the annual wood production for this species in the geographical location of your choice (the figures available are most probably given per hectare or per acre rather than per tree). Find out the energy value of the wood and the annual caloric intake of a human being. Using these figures, you can calculate what you would need to produce enough oxygen for one human being without even knowing how much oxygen they produce.

NASA does research on this using crops and they can produce enough oxygen for one human being with 20 square metres of land.

However we can of course speculate, keeping in mind that trees produce excess oxygen whilst growing and putting on wood (of course when they decay in old age the reverse will be true). Therefore the biggest oxygen producers will be the trees which have the fastest ability to convert the air and the soil they feed on into wood.

Opinions are divided which tree deserves this accolade and the reason for this disagreement is that the growth pattern of trees is inevitably affected by local conditions, such as poor or rich soil, sunshine wind and humidity, which side of the hill does it grow, what helpful fungi are there in the soil and various other factors. A Douglas Fir that can grow up to an amazing 300 ft in a given period in Oregon, may 'only' grow a 100 feet high in the south of California in that same period, because trees have their favourite spot, where conditions for their growth are optimal.

Presently the contenders for the fastest accumulation of square feet of timber in the trunk are Pinus radiata (Monterey Pine). This has shown amazing growth of 8 to 10 feet a year in favoured conditions. It originates from a small coastal area in California and is one of the most popular timber trees in the southern hemisphere, particularly South America.

Hybrid Poplar (cross between European Black Poplar and the North American Eastern Cottonwood). This can also grow of the rate of 8 ft a year in favourable circumstances. Other fast growing trees that deserve a mention are Chitalpa, Chinese Elm, Eucalyptus, Locust tree, and Fig tree, not necessarily in any particular order.

There are of course also genetically engineered trees in the making, which will be trying to break all records. An example is the "Supatree", which is experimentally grown in a remote place in Australia. Investors in the genetic engineerin industry are told that this tree aims to grow as much 30 to 35 feet in the first year and will accomplish in 10 years time what a regular forest plantation tree takes 75 years to do.

This sounds fantastic in a world with dwindling resources (due to growing populations and the silly consumer attitude we have towards the natural world), but please remember that this is a tree which has been engineered far more for business interests, rather than with the Good of the Whole World in mind.

In my opinion the world needs biodiversity and its inherent creativity for survival of the Earth on which we all depend and therefore food and resource security. This is far more important than identical clones, which depend on fertilizer and fossil fuel based growing practices.

Maybe we will be forced to grow Supatrees if we carry on the way we are and squander our precious heritage. If I were a judge with blinkers on, ignoring the real needs of the Earth and therefore people, Supatree would no doubt they would be the winner of your contest as oxygen producers during growth.

But will the world be a better, safer or richer place with Supatree plantations all over the world???

I really appreciate your genuine search for the highest oxygen producing tree, but please allow me to suggest also that oxygen is not the only gift the trees to the wellbeing of the patients of a tuberculosis hospital. Nor necessarily the most important: trees clean air pollution in many different ways and heal also by their presence.

Trees have always been our friends, healers and providers .There is of course infinite beauty in trees and woodland, but there is far more to it than that:
There is something about the aura of trees, that can make you feel as if you're in the presence of a being greater than ourselves. I don't mean greater in statue, but in a knowledge deeper and wiser than most people have.

Few people fail to be impressed by wonderful beings like the Dalai Lama and feel better for meeting him. But many trees are to me like Dalai Lama's and everyone can seek their healing friendship.

Trees seem to know that the Earth is all one. One giant interacting web of life. The divisions between us are artificial and temporary. As a separate identity I give my own contribution to the consciousness/vibes of the Earth, but since I exist only by the grace of inhaling air, drinking water, eating food, interacting in countless ways to make my consciousness grow: How can I think I am not intimately related to everything else?

Full article / post continues at: Which tree species produces the most oxygen?

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