The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 4 August 09

Desperate times, huh? America’s major “clean coal” electricity coalition is in trouble for a series of false supporting letters a contractor sent out to members of Congress on its behalf.  The faked letters were supposedly from a range of community and voluntary organisations, but were actually part of the $45 million media and lobbying campaign the ACCCE has been running – even if unauthorised.

Algae-based fuels have been the big topic of late, with industry heavyweights and independent startup companies alike rushing to research and refine ways to grow algae efficiently and turn it into fuel. But while the result may be a viable replacement for petroleum, is it better in terms of reducing greenhouse emissions? Maybe.

Trees can act as a “famine food” to keep drought-hit communities alive when all else fails – another good reason to plant more of them. But the G8’s commitment to food security failed to recognise this role trees can play, Tree Aid’s Miranda Spitteler says.

South Korea is the first major “developing” nation to commit to a 2020 emissions reduction target – though the final target has not been selected from three options on the table, and may not actually reduce emissions at all. Still, it’s better than doing nothing – which would see emissions rise by 30 percent for the OECD’s fastest-growing carbon polluter.

Europe's largest mammal, the European bison, remains extremely vulnerable to extinction, despite long-standing efforts to save it, new research shows. In one of two remaining herds, the genetic diversity is down to an effective 25 animals.

One year post-Olympics, Beijing’s choking smog is back and once more pushing “hazardous” levels, proving you can’t simply sweep such problems away by wishing. But one positive to come from the Olympic “clean-up” exercise is in public awareness; as one official notes, people now remember the clear skies of 20 years ago and wonder why they can’t return.  

Egypt is setting aside 2400 square miles of land in upper Egypt for wind farm projects. The country aims to generate 12 percent of its power from wind farms and 20 percent in all from renewables by 2020.

Half the world is vulnerable to social instability and violence due to the impacts of the global recession as well as decreasing water, food, and energy supplies per person, not to mention climate change. So says the UN’s Millenium Project in its 2009 report, which combines 13 years of data and analysis. The good news is that, so far, most of the world is at peace.

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  • Posted on Aug. 4, 2009. Listed in:

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