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Experts in U.S. and China see a chance for cooperation against climate change

The New York Times in an article by Edward Wong and Andrew Revkin summarized two recent reports that propose ways for President Obama and Chinese leaders begin addressing how to work together to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  Both nations now recognize the urgency of global warming and the need for agreements between them if a new international climate treaty is to be possible. 
 
“A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change,” is by Steven Chu, now the secretary of energy, John Thornton, who may become the U.S. ambassador to China, and John Holdren, Obama’s choice for science adviser.  The report recommends that China and the U.S. convene a presidential summit meeting to create a broad plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; then senior officials and independent experts would be named to councils and task forces to develop concrete programs. 
 
The second report, by David Sandalow and Kenneth Lieberthal, both fellows of the Brookings Institution, lists nine ways to build political support in both countries for long term cooperation on cutting emissions. 
 
Officials from both countries say that the process outlined in “Roadmap” could establish a new framework for U.S.-China relations.  However, both countries may be too focused on reviving their economies to devote much attention to curbing emissions.  Any partnership forged through the “Roadmap” process must be sustained, not episodic.  Old attitudes and entrenched positions remain, but are starting to give way to new realities.  As Wu Jianmin, a senior adviser to the Foreign Ministry said, “We all understand we don’t have much time left.  We’ve got to work together.”
 
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Published on February 12, 2009 by in Admin

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Trashing the fridge

How radical are you?  How committed to a small carbon footprint?  Are you radical enough and committed enough to pull the plug on your refrigerator? Some people are, although it is still considered a fringe choice — 99.5% of American homes have a refrigerator.  The people who’ve done it say it’s relatively easy to make the lifestyle change.  They’re generally happy with their decision.  But there are some costs involved.  One has to buy more food (because of spoilage) in smaller quantities (thus more packaging).  One has to cook more, which needs more time and forethought because items from the freezer must be thawed, and leftovers avoided.  It helps to live alone or as a couple, and don’t have to cook large meals for a family.  It also helps to live on a farm or within walking distance of a grocery store.  Yet the gains from unplugging the fridge are surprisingly small.  An 18-cubic-foot Energy Star-rated refrigerator uses about 380 kilowatt-hours a year, less than a clothes dryer, at a cost of $40 per year, or 11 cents a day.  Switching to a minifridge saves only about $6 a year. 
 
If you’re not willing to give up your refrigerator, clean the door gaskets and compressor coils once a year; every three months if you have a pet.  Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than side-by-side models.  Buy an Energy Star-rated unit for the same reason.  Open the door as little as possible, and don’t position the fridge in direct sunlight or next to the oven. 
 
If you were poor and lived overseas, you wouldn’t have any choices to make.  You’d have no fridge to unplug, no freezer or ice as workarounds, and never any leftovers.
 
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Global warming changing birds’ habitats

According to a new report released by the Audubon Society, over 350 species of birds are spending winters further north than they did 40 years ago.  While there are other factors which cause birds to change their range, scientists believe that the only explanation for such a large number of species to move north is global warming.  Over the past 40 years, temperatures in January have risen approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit. With the warmer temperatures, the birds need less food to survive in the cold, allowing them to live in places that were previously inhabitable. Temperature changes have different effects of individual species, so while some birds may not travel as far south in the winter, others are traveling further north at the same time.

 
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Turning cooking oil into fuel for the county

From the New York Times, here is another example of a community going green.  Officials in Westchester County New York have started a program to collect excess cooking oil from restaurants to use an alternative fuel source to power county vehicles.  In total, the county has over 130 vehicles which use cooking oil as either a single fuel source or combined with diesel. Aside from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using cooking oil to power county vehicles saves the government, restaurant owners and taxpayers money.

 
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