Thursday, July 31, 2008

Literary Warrant [33]

Grey Sky, Sea and Speedboat

Grey Sky, Sea and Speedboat, Dominic's pics, Brighton, England

  • Keith Collins, Kraft Foods Global, Inc., The Role of Biofuels and Other Factors in Increasing Farm and Food Prices: A Review of Recent Developments with a Focus on Feed Grain Markets and Market Prospects (June 2008)

    "This paper reviews various studies that have examined the relationship between corn used in ethanol production and corn prices. They suggest increased corn demand for ethanol could account for 25 to 50 percent of the corn price increase expected from 2006/07 to 2008/09. Another analysis presented in the paper suggests that ethanol could account for 60 percent of the expected increase in corn prices between 2006/07 and 2008/09 when market demand and supply are inelastic with respect to price—i.e., a period when stocks are very low, feed use is slow to respond, export demand is strong due to foreign agricultural policies, and acreage is very constrained."—Executive Summary.

  • Claudia Copeland, Specialist in Resource and Environmental Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Clean Water Act: Legislation Concerning Discharges from Recreational Boats (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RS22878) (Updated June 19, 2008)

    "The Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to develop a regulatory response to a 2006 federal court ruling that vacated a long-standing rule that exempts discharges associated with the normal operation of vessels from permit requirements of the Clean Water Act. Concern that this ruling could require millions of recreational boaters to obtain permits has led to the introduction of legislation to exempt such vessels from water quality regulation. This report discusses background to the issue, six bills (S. 2067/H.R. 2550, S. 2766/H.R. 5949, and S. 2645/H.R. 5594), and draft permits proposed by EPA on June 17."—Summary.
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  • Manasi Deshpande & Douglas W. Elmendorf, The Hamilton Project, Brookings Institution, An Economic Strategy for Investing in America's Infrastructure (Strategy Paper) (July 2008)

    "Infrastructure investment has received more attention in recent years because of increased delays from road and air congestion, high-profile infrastructure failures, and rising concerns about energy security and climate change. The United States now has the opportunity to channel public concern and frustration into a national infrastructure strategy that promotes infrastructure as a central component of long-term, broadly shared growth. While increased spending on infrastructure is likely to be needed, this paper emphasizes the large gains that could be reaped by using existing infrastructure more efficiently and by making better decisions about how to invest in infrastructure.

    "For physical infrastructure, we recommend establishing pricing mechanisms such as road congestion fees and air traffic control fees to make users bear the costs of their infrastructure use more fully. At least part of the revenues from these fees should be used to offset their potential adverse distributional effects. The federal government can also promote better decisionmaking about new investments by removing distortions in its own policies and providing more flexibility to states and localities in exchange for more accountability. For telecommunications infrastructure, we propose that the government make better use of the wireless spectrum by facilitating sales and leases of unused spectrum and by introducing more flexibility in its policy of interference prevention. Further, the government should consider targeted, cost-effective subsidies to encourage private firms to expand high-speed Internet access to unserved rural areas."—Abstract.

  • Janet L. Gamble, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), et al., Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems (Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.6) (2008)

    "Climate change, interacting with changes in land use and demographics, will affect important human dimensions in the United States, especially those related to human health, settlements and welfare. The challenges presented by population growth, an aging population, migration patterns, and urban and coastal development will be affected by changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme climate-related events. In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Cold days and cold nights are very likely to become much less frequent over North America. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. Other changes include measurable sea-level rise and increases in the occurrence of coastal and riverine flooding. The United States is certainly capable of adapting to the collective impacts of climate change. However, there will still be certain individuals and locations where the adaptive capacity is less and these individuals and their communities will be disproportionally impacted by climate change.

    "This report—the Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.6 (SAP 4.6)—focuses on impacts of global climate change, especially impacts on three broad dimensions of the human condition: human health, human settlements, and human welfare. The SAP 4.6 has been prepared by a team of experts from academia, government, and the private sector in response to the mandate of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Strategic Plan (2003). The assessment examines potential impacts of climate change on human society, opportunities for adaptation, and associated recommendations for addressing data gaps and near- and long-term research goals."—Abstract.

  • Ross W. Gorte, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division & Jonathan L. Ramseur, Analyst in Environmental Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Forest Carbon Markets: Potential and Drawbacks (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34560) (July 3, 2008)

    "Various forestry activities may be feasible for carbon offsets. Afforestation (planting trees on open sites) and reforestation (planting trees on recently cleared sites) are the activities most commonly included for offsets. Some propose that the carbon stored in long-term wood products, such as lumber and plywood, could be credited as carbon offsets, and mill wastes often substitute for fossil fuels to produce energy; however, short-term products (e.g., paper) and the biomass left in the woods after timber harvesting release carbon, making the net carbon effects uncertain. Some forest management practices also might qualify for carbon offsets; certified sustainable forest practices provide a system of assured, long-term forests, while activities to increase tree growth face many of the same concerns as long-term wood products. Finally, deforestation is a major source of GHG emissions, accounting for as much as 20% of anthropogenic emissions. Thus, avoided deforestation, especially in the tropics, potentially provides an enormous opportunity to reduce GHG emissions. However, avoided deforestation is particularly prone to well as many of the concerns about forest carbon offsets generally."—Summary.

  • Lewis A. Grossman, American University, Washington College of Law, Food, Drugs, and Droods: A Historical Consideration of Definitions and Categories in American Food and Drug Law, 93 Cornell L. Rev., no.5 (2008) (American University, WCL Research Paper No. 08-37)

    "This article explores the development and interaction of the legal and cultural categories food and drug from the late nineteenth century to the present. It is based not only on legal and historical research, but also on theories of category formation from the fields of linguistics and psychology."—Abstract.

  • Harvard School of Public Health, Project on the Public and Biological Security, Hurricane Readiness in High-Risk Areas (2008)

    "Three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, a new survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health Project on the Public and Biological Security shows that one-third (34%) of those affected by the storm report they are very prepared if a major hurricane were to strike their communities in the next six months. The top worries of respondents threatened or hit by Hurricane Katrina are that they would not have enough fresh water to drink (42% very worried) and that they would not be able to get needed medical care (41% very worried). The survey of 5,055 people was conducted in eight states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas—and only included residents of high-risk counties, those within 20 miles of the coast. The poll also included a special sample of the New Orleans metropolitan area."—Press release (July 23, 2008)

  • Mark Jickling, Specialist in Financial Economics, Government and Finance Division & Lynn J. Cunningham, Information Research Specialist, Knowledge Services Group, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Speculation and Energy Prices: Legislative Responses (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34555) (Updated July 8, 2008)

    "While most observers recognize that the fundamentals of supply and demand have contributed to record energy prices in 2008, many also believe that the price of oil and other commodities includes a 'speculative premium.' In other words, speculators who seek to profit by forecasting price trends are blamed for driving prices higher than is justified by fundamentals.

    "In theory, this should not happen. Speculation is not a new phenomenon in futures markets—the futures exchanges are essentially associations of professional speculators. There are two benefits that arise from speculation and distinguish it from mere gambling: first, speculators create a market where hedgers—producers or commercial users of commodities—can offset price risk. Hedgers can use the markets to lock in today’s price for transactions that will occur in the future, shielding their businesses from unfavorable price changes. Second, a competitive market where hedgers and speculators pool their information and trade on their expectations of future prices is the best available mechanism to determine prices that will clear markets and ensure efficient allocation of resources."—Summary.

  • Alisa Klein, Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in Disasters: A Planning Guide for Prevention and Response (2008)

    "This guide offers a range of recommendations from suggesting small changes to developing comprehensive plans, making preparations, and coordinating far-reaching policy change. Based on a public health framework, the guide is arranged according to phases of a disaster, and offers practical ways to begin making changes first within your organization, and then by working toward broader policy change in concert with allied fields and organizations. It is crucial to remember that it is only through the development of successful working relationships with partners that policies can be designed and implemented for optimal success. Achieving many of these recommendations requires partners to advocate and fight for policy change in all areas of disaster planning and response."—This Guide.

  • Librarians' Index to the Internet (LII), Home and Housing: Architecture: Green Building (search results)

    LII's selection of high-quality websites relating to small, sustainable, and healthy houses.

  • Jay Lund et al., Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (July 2008)

    "For over 50 years, California has been pumping water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for extensive urban and agricultural uses around the state. Today, the Delta is ailing and in urgent need of a new management strategy. This report concludes that building a peripheral canal to carry water around the Delta is the most promising way to balance two critical policy goals: reviving a threatened ecosystem and ensuring a reliable, high-quality water supply for California."

  • William J. Mallett, Specialist in Transportation Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Public-Private Partnerships in Highway and Transit Infrastructure Provision (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34567) (July 9, 2008)

    "Growing demands on the transportation system and constraints on public resources have led to calls for more private sector involvement in the provision of highway and transit infrastructure through what are known as 'public-private partnerships' (PPPs). A PPP, broadly defined, is any arrangement whereby the private sector assumes more responsibility than is traditional for infrastructure planning, financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. This report describes the wide variety of public-private partnerships in highways and transit, but focuses on the two types of highway PPPs that are generating the most debate: the leasing by the public sector to the private sector of existing infrastructure; and the building, leasing, and owning of new infrastructure by private entities."—Summary.

  • Michael Mihalka & David Anderson, Center for Contemporary Conflict, Is the Sky Falling? Energy Security and Transnational Terrorism (July 2008)

    "This paper will assess the extent to which transnational terrorists, in particular global Jihadists associated with Osama bin Laden, have been interested in attacks against the global energy infrastructure. We then assess the extent to which terrorists have in fact targeted that infrastructure and with what effect. We then place these attacks in the context of other supply disruption events. Finally, we make suggestions about a viable way ahead."—Introduction.

  • Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL), FEMA Draft Disaster Housing Strategy Available (Press release) (July 23, 2008)

    "The National Disaster Housing Strategy (the Strategy) serves two purposes. First, it describes how we as a Nation currently provide housing to those affected by disasters. It summarizes, for the first time in a single document, the many sheltering and housing efforts we have in the United States and the broad array of organizations that are involved in managing these programs. The Strategy also outlines the key principles and policies that guide the disaster housing process. Second, and more importantly, the Strategy charts the new direction that our disaster housing efforts must take if we are to better meet the emergent needs of disaster victims and communities."—Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA), Overview, National Housing Disaster Strategy (Working Draft) (July 17, 2008)

  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Marine Conservation Zones, Postnote, n.310 (June 2008)

    "The proposed Draft UK Marine Bill1 aims to combine legislation on activities and conservation in the marine environment into a single framework. This includes the designation of a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in UK waters, a form of marine protected area (MPA). MPAs are described as any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora or fauna, historical or cultural features, which are protected by legal or other effective means. This POSTnote examines the possibility of using a MCZ network to manage the impacts of human activities on the marine environment."

  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), EPA Staff Ordered to Stonewall Investigators and Media (July 28, 2008)

    "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ordering its staff to 'not respond to questions or make any statements' if contacted by congressional investigators, reporters or even by its own Office of Inspector General, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The order reinforces a growing bunker mentality within an EPA that is the subject of a growing number of probes into political interference with agency operations."—Press release.

  • Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA), The Gallagher Review of the Indirect Effects of Biofuels Production (July 2008)

    "Biofuels have been proposed as a solution to several pressing global concerns: energy security, climate change and rural development. This has led to generous subsidies in order to stimulate supply. In 2003, against a backdrop of grain mountains and payments to farmers for set-aside land, the European Union agreed the Biofuels Directive. Under this directive, member states agreed to set indicative targets for biofuels use and promote their uptake. Many environmental groups hailed a new revolution in green motoring.

    "Five years later, there is growing concern about the role of biofuels in rising food prices, accelerating deforestation and doubts about the climate benefits. This has led to serious questions about their sustainability and extensive campaigns against higher targets.

    "Concern was further raised among policy makers when the paper by Searchinger (2008) asserted that US biofuels production on agricultural land displaced existing agricultural production, causing land-use change leading to increased net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions."—Executive Summary.

  • Restore the Delta

    "Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta—a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists—seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."—Welcome.

  • Eric Roston, The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat (2008)

    "The story of carbon—the building block of life that is, ironically, humanity’s great threat. It could be said that all of us are a little alien—our bodies’ carbon atoms first shot forth from supernovas billions of years ago and far, far away. Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect and chemical scaffolding of life and civilization; indeed, all living things draw carbon from their environments to stay alive, and the great cycle by which carbon moves through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere has long been a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. And yet, when we hear the word today, it is more often than not in a crisis context: carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle; chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet; the volatile Middle East explodes atop its stores of volatile hydrocarbons; carbohydrates threaten obesity and diabetes.

    "In The Carbon Age, Eric Roston evokes this essential element, its journey illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization. Charting the science of carbon—how it was formed, how it came to Earth and built up—he chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used it over centuries, and the growing catastrophe of the industrial era, leading us to now attempt to wrestle the Earth’s geochemical cycle back from the brink. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston makes us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has, and has had, on our lives."—Description.

  • Slashdot (blog), GENI To Replace Internet, Gets $12M Funding (July 31, 2008)

    "A massive project to redesign and rebuild the Internet from scratch is inching along with $12 million in government funding and donations of network capacity by two major research organizations. Many researchers want to rethink the Internet's underlying architecture, saying a 'clean-slate' approach is the only way to truly address security and other challenges that have cropped up since the Internet's birth in 1969."—Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer, Project to Rebuild Internet Gets $12M, Bandwidth (July 30, 2008)

  • State of California, Green California

    "Green California is a gateway for the latest information about how the state of California is working to reduce energy and resource consumption, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and creating healthier environments in which to work, live and learn."—Welcome to Green California!

  • Ed Struzik, Canwest News Service, Scientists Solve Riddle of Toxic Algae Blooms, Times Colonist (July 22, 2008)

    "After a remarkable 37-year experiment, University of Alberta scientist David Schindler and his colleagues have finally nailed down the chemical triggers for a problem that plagues thousands of freshwater and coastal ecosystems around the world."

  • Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Committee on the Role of Public Transportation in Emergency Evacuation, The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation (2008)

    "The purpose of this study, which was requested by Congress2 and funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Transit Cooperative Research Program, is to evaluate the potential role of transit systems in accommodating the evacuation, egress, and ingress of people from or to critical locations in times of emergency. Its focus is on transit systems serving the 38 largest urbanized areas in the United States—a proxy for those systems serving populations larger than 1 million. Transit is defined broadly to include bus and rail systems, paratransit and demand responsive transit, commuter and intercity rail, and ferries, whether publicly operated or privately contracted. Highways and their capacity are also considered because many transit systems provide only bus service and must share the highways with private vehicles in an emergency evacuation. The study is also focused on major incidents that could necessitate a partial to full evacuation of the central business district or other large portion of an urban area. Meeting the surge requirements and coordination demands of such incidents is likely to strain the capacity of any single jurisdiction or transit agency and exceed local resources."—Study Charge and Scope.

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative (SEFI), Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008: Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (2008)

    "Once again, global investment in sustainable energy broke all previous records, with
    $148.4 billion of new money raised in 2007, an increase of 60% over 2006. Total financial transactions in sustainable energy, including acquisition activity, was $204.9 billion1. Asset finance—investment in new renewable energy capacity—was the main driver for this surge in investment, rising 68% to reach $84.5 billion in 2007, fuelled mainly by the wind sector. Public market investment also raced ahead in 2007, with investment of $23.4 billion in 2007, more than double the $10.5 billion raised in 2006."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (January 2008)

    "The purpose of this Energy Management Guidebook is to demonstrate to utility managers that it makes sound business and environmental sense to utilize a management system approach to optimize energy conservation efforts. Specifically, this Guidebook will present a management system approach for energy conservation, based on the successful Plan-Do-Check-Act process, that enables utilities to establish and prioritize energy conservation targets (Plan), implement specific practices to meet these targets (Do), monitor and measure energy performance improvements and cost savings (Check), and periodically review progress and make adjustments to energy programs (Act). The Guidebook will also provide real life examples of water and wastewater utilities who have already realized significant benefits through use of an energy management program and provide a step-by-step process to show how to achieve the same benefits for your utility."

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG), EPA’s Key Management Challenges for Fiscal Year 2008 (Memorandum) (July 2, 2008)

    Management challenges addressed include Threat and Risk Assessments, EPA’s Organization and Infrastructure, Performance Measurement, Water and Wastewater Infrastructure, Meeting Homeland Security Requirements, Oversight of Delegations to States, Chesapeake Bay Program, and Voluntary Programs.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs Have Limited Potential (Evaluation Report, No. 08-P-0206) (July 23, 2008)

    "The set of voluntary GHG programs we reviewed use outreach efforts to recruit program partners and reduce GHG emissions. We found the greatest barriers to participation were the perceived emission reduction costs and reporting requirements. We also found that it is unlikely these voluntary programs can reduce more than 19 percent of the projected 2010 GHG emissions for their industry sectors. From this, we determined that if EPA wishes to reduce GHG emissions beyond this point, it needs to consider additional policy options."—What We Found.


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