Month: June 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

Nuclear Rage Continued @Los Alamos National Labs

[youtube=]Los Alamos, New Mexico is now in mandatory evacuation including Los Alamos National Labs and Nuclear Research Facility, home to nuclear energy.  The winds have moved the Las Conchas Fire to the nuclear facility. This is where the first atomic bomb was built, and numerous nuclear tests carried out over 50 years ago. Tech Area 49, which was used in the early 1960s for a series of underground tests with high explosives and radioactive materials is said to have a spot fire. The fire has burned an estimated 60,000 acres.

The potential greater public concern is the dumpsite where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste are stored in fabric tents above ground this adds to the element of usual catastrophic effects of fire.

“These drums are designed to a safety standard that would withstand a wildland fire worse than this one,” Lab spokeswoman Lisa Rosendorf said, the drums contain cleanup from Cold War-era waste that the lab sends away in weekly shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.  Charlie McMillan, Los Alamos Labs Director as of a month ago, starts off with significant challenges.

Teams from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Radiological Assistance Program are on the way to the scene to help assess any nuclear or radiological hazards, said Kevin Smith, Los Alamos Site Office manager.  The teams will monitor the air and contaminants. The National Guard and State Police have been called in to patrol, with the main road into Los Alamos closed.

Watch the news reports coming out today, and it is hard to hold the light for humanity.  The key is appreciation of what we have now, and to gain perspective to change our patterns regarding the source of energy.

Fukushima’s Radiation-3 Months & Still Counting

"Solar Impulse" Soaring Innovation with Renewable Energy

If you continue to read about the dark reality of the situation of Fukushima, at least make it to the end of the post to focus on something positive, that gives hope, like the solar airplane; Solar Impulse in flight.  Who would have ever thought it was possible?

Fukushima still continues to spew radiation; this is projected to be ongoing for at least another year before the water temperatures drop below boiling since it is now confirmed that at three of the reactors had “meltdowns”. More about the situation continues to be revealed. TEPCO has re-calculated the amount of initial radiation released in the first week of Fukushima.  As a result there is serious concern about the effect of “Hot particles,” also known as “Fuel fleas” to human health. Hot particles when ingested through food we eat, breathed in, or drank through water/milk, or on skin; cause cancer. Watch Fairwinds Arnie Gunderson’s video on “Hot Particles” to better understand what hot particles are, and how they may affect us. Click here to see the interview by CNN’s John King about the re-calculation of radiation released.   Parents are concerned the amount of radiation their children are receiving as far away as Tokyo. Evidence of the Fukushima radiation (which may include hot particles) is found predominantly throughout Japan, but also around the world including Hawaii, along the West Coast  in 13 cities in the USA, and  Ireland.

Remains of building #4 reactor and radioactive storage pool that holds spent nuclear fuel photo released by TEPCO

There is the question of the #4 fuel pool’s storage instability, this is a critical situation with the looming threat of the pool’s structural integrity in addition to keeping the rods from overheating without a cooling system. Work was done to re-enforce the troubled fuel pool which is elevated several floors above the ground level in what remains of the building (see video from a month ago).  Plutonium discovered outside Fukushima does not ease the severity of the situation. The radiation from Fukushima continues to stream at high levels into the air, water, and earth.  Disposal of radioactive water will continue to be an issue, and radioactive sewage is now a reality too. Not only are the lungs of people in danger but also radiation is affecting the lungs of our planet flora and fauna.

It is out of the ordinary in the Japanese culture to protest, but this past weekend was the three months from the date it all began, March 11th and people had enough, so they took to the streets in protest of nuclear power. [youtube=]Fukushima protests have gone as far as Germany too.   People shouted “Fukushima Warned”—pull the plug on all nuclear power plants,” and they also yelled “Fukushima, Chernobyl, too much is too much!”  German’s protests where the largest anti-nuclear protest in history with tens of thousands of people. Riot control is now in force for the upcoming annual TEPCO board meeting, June 28th .

TEPCO’s situation remains a challenge (see daily status). Fukushima did not happen without warning.  Japan’s rolling blackouts does affect the economy. Decisions made during the crisis created suspicion and mistrust within the Japanese Government itself and between the USA and Japan and remains precarious on all fronts. Adult suicide rates have grown and nearby school children will begin to wear a dosimeter at all times to accurately measure the amount of radiation they receive. Dosimeters will be for children 4-15 yrs. old and under 3yrs. at the parents’ request to help measure monthly radiation exposure.  But the program will not begin until September, and cannot measure hot particles ingested.

It has been suggested that Fukushima be a repository for nuclear waste, even though it is on the “ring of fire”—a study is being done now to consider making this site a permanent graveyard a nuclear repository.

Governments from 30 nuclear countries called for stress tests after Fukushima and international nuclear policy is being discussed. Japan admits to being unprepared for a nuclear disaster even though they were warned—whether that is even possible to prepare for a nuclear disaster, when there is so many potentially fatal factors, is now being rightfully questioned.  Many countries are willing to learn from Japan’s experience as people all around the world are standing up to their governments and saying “no more nukes”.  Italy’s funny and creative video campaign “Freedom of Choice” brought people out to vote on nuclear power. Italy now joins Switzerland, Germany, and voted in a referendum on Monday against the use of nuclear power.

As nuclear power becomes less of an option it affects the controversial uranium mini in Australia and the USA’s Grand Canyon where companies have applied for a license to begin mining, as well as in other parts of the world where uranium mining exists now.

France who has been the global leader in nuclear energy is now being pressured by the people to reconsider this source of energy too. The big question remains with USA and China, as both continue to hold up the issues of global importance now, as they are doing in Bonn, Germany on the road to Rio+20.

Right now, in the USA,  the decision to extend a nuclear power plant’s license lives at the Federal Government level and each state government, like it or not, now has to accept the federal decision made on their behalf—but that may soon change. State vs. federal is going at it, for example, in Vermont and Massachusetts where they have started to fight this battle in court to take back their power. As a result, Vermont Yankee may have their recent nuclear plant operation renewal revoked, as it is highly controversial that it was even extended.   It is one of the oldest reactors and has the same reactor model as Fukushima, and has been cited for safety failures numerous times. The operating company, Entergy (a large contributor to President Obama’s campaign), is now in a lawsuit with the state of Vermont; this may get more interesting. Massachusetts is filling suit too, and brings to question whether California and New York will take action next and what the USA & China will do regarding this so-called “nuclear renaissance”. There is concern that no entity will be able to prepare for the terrorist threat involving nuclear plants .

We need an international framework and policy structured for nuclear as well as other environmental catastrophes, and mechanisms to approach them when they affect the entire world. This is idealistic but in times like this, we need a little idealism.

Embracing the reality of this entire nuclear situation is not easy.   A reminder to consider the bigger perspective—read “Energy and the Future of our Earth” here.

"Liquid Solar Robot" on mission to collect data

Let’s focus on hope by trying to find something positive like this new helpful technology “Liquid Robots” that may help monitor the oceans’ with their solar powered ocean robots that could accurately measure contaminates.  Or remember the Solar Eagle aerial art we made last year as to raise awareness of the U.N. Climate Conference in Cancun.  Let’s think about the Solar Impulse that actually took flight again and landed yesterday in Paris! World Team Now is focused on renewable energy,  and finding  innovative solutions. It takes a team and we need all the help we can get, so please join us!  We appreciate the support and welcome your comments.

Electric Vehicles’ Karma

"Karma" photo courtesy of Fisker Automotive

There are small solutions to environmental challenges that may have a big impact with electric vehicles, renewable energy, and the smart grid. Large environmental problems like the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico still loom, but one of the solutions to the planet’s environmental woes is rapidly approaching.  Vehicle electrification can ease dependence on polluting petroleum that contributes to climate change, yet many people are not fully informed on how electric vehicles will fit into their lives. One information gap is public understanding of the important fit between electric vehicles (EVs) and the smart grid.

There is a game changing research paper that shows we can transform the energy equation – “Vehicle Electrification: Status and Issues,” it was just published in the special Smart Grid issue of The Proceedings of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It shows we can change the energy equation, serving as a reference source to understand electric vehicles from a whole systems perspective.

Many people do not realize there are many electric vehicles available, and the size of this EV wave now breaking.  Here is an original chart of new grid enabled vehicles (GEV) to use as resource.  Choose the new electric vehicle you want to see from small tabs at the bottom of the page where vehicles are divided into categories; Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Plug in Electric Vehicles (PEV), Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).

This EV paper is timely and important since the case for electric vehicles needs to be more clearly understood, from the point of view of public perception and long term evaluation.  The research and statistics presented will gain value over time when people need to cite sources to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy global economy.

EV’s and the Smart Grid are two topics that present solutions at a time the planet is challenged to live in balance with our natural resources regarding energy generation. A key functionality of a smart grid is the intelligent management of distributed sources of power derived from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, tidal, etc. It is important that renewable energy can be paired with energy storage for a more adaptable power grid; this is one of the key features of the smart grid article.

To adapt to the moving electrical loads that are EVs is one of the major design goals for the smart grid. EVs also potentially offer valuable energy storage capabilities for smart grids (Vehicle to Grid).

IEEE's Published Paper "Vehicle Electrification: Status and Issues"(Click on the image to read)

World Team Now (WTN) board members Albert Boulanger and Suzanne Maxx teamed up with Andy Chu of A123 Systems Inc. and Dave Waltz of Columbia University’s Computational Learning Systems (CCLS) for the IEEE  paper Vehicle Electrification: Status and Issues—a topic that offers solutions to our environmental challenges. World Team Now, our California and New York based non-profit organization, raises public awareness about renewable energy solutions, like the EVs.   We recently worked with The City of Malibu (Click Here for EV Campaign) to secure a grant to get their electric vehicle chargers working and upgraded too.

To make the transition to vehicle electrification, the public needs to understand how their transportation choices play into the big picture.  Each individual has the opportunity to carve out his or her own role in this change by making educated choices with what we drive and how we live.

Here is a new original chart of grid enabled vehicles (GEV) to use as resource in making these choices.At the bottom of the image you an click on the tab to view vehicles in each of these categories;

“Karma,” (the vehicle) from Fisker Automotive made its production debut this past weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix.  Back in 2005, World Team Now worked to build an alternative vehicle parade to premiere at Monaco’s Grand Prix.  The Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Albert the 2nd, was behind the wheel and founder Henrik Fisker rode shot gun—fulfilling a long anticipated coming of a high end electric sports car with the innovation to also take gasoline, if necessary.

Loving "Karma's" Solar Roof, photo courtesy of Fisker Automotive

Fisker’s Karma lives up to its name. Its good Karma resides in its solar roof, LED lights, and use of recycled and reclaimed components.  It is a more than a transition vehicle while the full-on vehicle infrastructure is being built to support EV charging. The Karma is one of the greenest cars on the market—cradle to grave—when it is charged every 100 miles via solar, or other renewable energy source.   Marketing Director Roger Ormisher said, “We should have the car rolled out with dealers and customers in August at the latest.”  Fisker also plans to have its own charge points, according to Ormisher.

In Baden-Baden Germany, June 9 is the last day of the IEEE conference on Intelligent Vehicles. Vehicle intelligence, the ability of vehicles to talk to other vehicles, can enhance safety and ease traffic flow.  Intelligent vehicles with driver assist features can act like remote sensors to following vehicles and even eventually drive the following vehicle in emergency situations.

A considerable obstacle to EV adoption is public perception.  The IEEE Paper goes into this in-depth.  The newly released film the Revenge of the Electric Car has a commercial appeal with an important story to help engage the public.

Auto executives understand that gap is a challenge for EV adoption and each manufacturer has different approaches to meet it.

GM believes that range anxiety is a key challenge. In an interview, Tony Posawatz, Chevy Volt Line Director, called the Chevy Volt a “connected electric vehicle” with the rollout standard OnStar for a period of time.   The OnStar tracking system and technology is why Posawatz said, “We believe that the Chevy Volt will be the smartest device on the Smart Grid.” That confidence is based on a “special relationship” managed through the Electric Power Research Institute where General Motors has engaged a about 50 of EPRI’s utilities to work together on everything from standards to rollout to communication plans to interfaces, to smart grid solutions.

Nissan is using vertical integration and making a significant investment in EVs to bring costs down faster than its competitors.  In a private interview, Mark Perry, director of planning, Nissan North America explained their first mover’s advantage in the United States, with the reasonably priced, “All Electric Zero Emissions Vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and mass media internet campaign.”  Nissan is also a supporter of Level 3 DC fast charging, unlike most other automakers.  Their strategy is to deploy infrastructure across six states with multiple DC fast-charging stations.

The Chinese battery and automaker BYD has less experience, but more to gain, and is pursuing EVs partly due to their simpler engineering.  Paul Lin, spokesman for BYD, said in a private interview that the company also takes advantage of vertical integration but is not bound by legal and liability constraints that other manufacturers face. The lower requirements of the domestic Chinese market, and less danger of hurting their brand, allow BYD to be more aggressive than traditional automakers.

Findings from the recent IPCCC Special Report Renewable Energy Sources are based on science that proves renewable energy can provide for 80% of our total global energy consumption.

The IEEE paper explains, “Grid-enabled vehicles (GEV), such as electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in (PHEVs) can help address environmental and energy issues by using electricity rather than petroleum. Overall, from well to wheels, GEVs reduce the energy consumption and emissions in the transportation sector.”

This paper offers a resource for making personal choices for sustainable transportation that impact the overriding issue of our time – global climate change. T0 read a different version of the article published in Environment News Service (Click Here). 

World Ocean Day


Video of Kids Ocean Day

Team effort by Micheal Klubock  with Aerial Artist John Quigley’s direction, the video here was produced by Golden Dolphin Films and Leslie Morova for Kid’s World Ocean Day  and the Malibu Foundation.

There were so many events for World Oceans Day, but in proportion to the destruction we have done we need many more, every day.

In World Team Now‘s home base in Malibu there was a “Paddle for Peace”

Breakthroughs, Launches and Warnings is a good article  by Environment News Service (ENS) on the U.N.’s Annual World Oceans Day.

In World Team Now’s other base, New York- the iconic Empire State Building was purple, blue and white honoring the United Nations World Oceans Day.

Peace Paddle 2011 included 230 participants off the coast of Paradise Cove Credit Craig Schmitman/NRDC

Disneyland claims to be the “happiest place on earth,” I have always felt that the happiest place on earth was in the ocean.  I focus on the beauty, remembering swimming with the dolphins in the wild.  When I would go out and float past the break they would come to me like a magnet, almost daily for more than ten years at Zuma, Beach in Malibu, sometimes on The Big Island of Hawaii too.

Thanks to all who showed up for these and other events from our communities in California and New York.  Click here to read more about the Peace Paddle in The Malibu Patch and event for the NRDC.

We have to focus on the positive for World Oceans Day, even though the global environmental situation is unfathomable.

Rio+20 = More Than “Reunion”

Next year, June 4th  hopefully we all will be back in Rio+20 for  the United Nations’ Earth Summit 2012 to continue what was started many years ago . What is a “life call” for transformation within many of us—being stewards of our earth—may finally become important enough to motivate our world leaders to agree on strong global policy that supports our collective environment, for humanity, and our future.

It was a life changing significant journey for many of us who attended The Earth Summit/Global Forum in Rio De Janeiro, in 1992. “I wish I could capture the energy in this room and bottle it,” said Olivia Newton-John at a press conference. It further ignited a collective spark that fueled the fire inside of many activists, leaders—indeed, all of us who made it to Rio, and continued on the environmental path!

We all laugh at the acronym UNCED, thinking much is “un-said,” but there were significant achievements to come out of Rio with Agenda 21, The Climate Change Treaty which gave way to the Climate Convention (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC).  This was where the Biodiversity and Desertification Conventions got legs. There was the Rio Declaration,  for more on the  history of the Earth Summit, click here.

During this year long road to Rio+20 World Team Now will be focused on renewable energy and policy, with on the ground projects to demonstrate what is possible. To read about some coverage of recent renewable energy projects click here.  Or be inspired by Google’s solar energy goal to go “viral”, and make solar affordable for us all.  The scientists are our real heros, and most are behind the scenes quietly doing their research without the eyes of the world on them.  Several of the organization partners in the campaign Tck, Tck, Tck  including World Team Now, believe in 100% reliance on renewable energy in the future.   What once seemed impossible, like putting a man on the moon, becomes possible with bold declarations and commitment to execution.

World Team Now will also share some of the original video, stories and information from Rio 1992 when Suzanne Maxx wore multiple hats; a speaker, a performer, activist, journalist, and videographer for Jerry Brown (who was then running for President of the USA).  In the footage, we follow a VIP entourage that included many people deeply respected.    Our goal is to encourage all to participate now and wear the hat of being a citizen of our world committed to living in better balance with our resources.

If all of us, the people of the world push for global political will to drive towards united commitment, transformation can happen. On the eve of World Environment Day this is an invitation to join World Team Now virtually; from the past into our future, as we invite all to be present in whatever way possible next year at the reunion in Rio.

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