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Murky waters for commercial ocean fertilization projects

Emma Ritch

The governing body for ocean-fertilization projects issued a resolution today impeding the prospect for commercially driven experiments in the foreseeable future.

The London Convention and Protocol (LCP) said “that, given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed.”

The resolution cleared up confusion amongst scientists this year as to whether research-driven projects would be permitted, but it stopped short of a mentioning commercial projects, as originally pursued by San Francisco’s Climos.

David Santillo, a senior scientist with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, told the Cleantech Group that he interpreted the resolution as effectively prohibiting any experiment by a company looking to receive carbon credits for its ocean iron fertilization work.

But the impact of the resolution isn’t so cut-and-dry, according to Dan Whaley, CEO of San Francisco-based Climos.

“That’s interpreting the language, and you’re free to do so, but that would be taking the perspective of Greenpeace,” Whaley said today. “The language was chosen very carefully and it doesn’t mention commercialization.”

Climos has planned to use ocean iron fertilization (OIF) projects to gain carbon credits (see Plankton to the rescue). But Whaley said the company is pleased the convention affirmed …

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Envirofit ramps clean-cooking line for India

Emma Ritch

The demand for clean cooking in India has prompted Fort Collins, Colo.-based Envirofit International to increase its 2009 production of biomass stoves.

The ‘cookstoves’ reduce toxic emissions by as much as 80 percent, use 50 percent less fuel and reduce cooking cycle time by 40 percent, according to Envirofit, a 501(c)3 nonprofit backed by the Shell Foundation, a charity established by the Shell Group in 2000.

The stoves sell for Rs. 500 to Rs. 2,000 ($10 to $40 USD). Since the line launched in May, Envirofit has sold 15,000 stoves and expects to reach 25,000 before the end of the year, according to co-founder and Vice President of Operations Tim Bauer.

Next year, Envirofit plans to sell 300,000, Bauer told the Cleantech Group.

“The reduced air pollution is resonating with the villagers in India,” Bauer said. “They don’t want to have dirty houses, and they want to have clean air inside their homes.”

Envirofit’s cookstoves are tackling a major problem facing developing nations.

According to the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution from solid-fuel use is responsible for more than 1.6 million annual deaths, including 800,000 children younger than five.

Almost half the world’s population cooks daily meals indoors with …

Bird brains

Emma Ritch

Our feathered friends can breathe a sigh of relief. Unless of course they plan to fly anywhere.

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows that wind turbines don’t scare away farmland bird populations.

The research is being touted as proof that wind farms are safe for birds, and that wind should now be adopted as a major source of renewable energy in Europe. But that overgeneralization of the study’s findings is dangerous.

Birds

The fact that birds aren’t avoiding turbines could be a bad sign. Wouldn’t avoiding wind farms be a sign that evolutionary instincts are kicking in to protect them from turbine blades that can move at 180 miles per hour?

And could this mean the pheasant is the smartest of all the birds studied? Of the 23 types of birds included, pheasants were the only birds found to change their living patterns because of turbines.

The study doesn’t take into account the threat to bird populations of collisions with the turbines. While that wasn’t the study’s intent, it’s a factor that can’t be forgotten. One suggestion has been to create ‘no fly’ zones for birds around the turbines.

Any discussion of wind farm safety …