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San Francisco examines power of dog droppings

Kim Curtis, Associated Press via USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO — City officials are hoping to harness the power of dog doo. San Franciscans already recycle more than 60% of their garbage, but in this dog-friendly town, animal feces make up nearly 4% of residential waste, or 6,500 tons a year — nearly as much as disposable diapers, according to the city.

Within the next few months, Norcal Waste, a garbage hauling company that collects San Francisco’s trash, will begin a pilot program under which it will use biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up droppings at a popular dog park.

The droppings will be tossed into a contraption called a methane digester, which is basically a tank in which bacteria feed on feces for weeks to create methane gas.

The methane could then be piped directly to a gas stove, heater, turbine or anything else powered by natural gas. It can also be used to generate electricity.
(21 February 2006)

In pile of waste, Md. scientists dig up a response to bird flu
Making compost of infected flocks may curb spread

William Wan, Washington Post
The problem is one local farmers hope to avoid. The solution is a simple, if gruesome, one. When avian flu is detected in a single chicken on a farm, the entire flock — often tens of thousands of chickens — must be killed. So, what to do with all those dead birds?

Enter the humble compost heap.

The brown pile of recyclable waste is one of the latest tactics in the global effort against avian flu. A deadly strain in Asia and Turkey has killed millions of chickens and dozens of people, sparking fears of a worldwide pandemic.
(20 February 2006)
A low-tech, low-energy solution.

UK & Japan: Achieving a low carbon society

press release,
The UK and Japan have announced – on the first anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol coming into force – a joint research project, which will investigate how to achieve a low carbon society by 2050.

It will be supported by the Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Tyndall Centre in the UK and the National Institute of Environmental Science (NIES) in Japan.

The project will:
· consider the necessity for action to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions
· share images of a low carbon society and
· investigate pathways to achieve a low carbon society through technological solutions, innovation and behavioural change
· identify bottle-necks, barriers & opportunities and
· contribute to the development of international cooperation between researchers working in this area.

…Two international workshops will form part of the project and the outcomes will feed into the Gleneagles Dialogue, which last November agreed to take forward the deployment of clean technologies to put global emissions on a path to ‘slow, peak and decline’.

Mexico has agreed to host the next ministerial meeting of the Dialogue in 2006. The Dialogue will report back to G8 Heads of Government during Japan’s G8 Presidency in 2008.

…The first of the international workshops will take place on June 14-16, 2006 in, Japan.
(21 February 2006)

Amazonian terra preta soil can transform poor soil into fertile, reduce carbon

Dwain Eldred, The Geological Society (UK)
Here is a type of gold the conquistadores missed – black gold: some of the globe’s richest soil that can transform poor soil into highly fertile ground.

Scientists have developed a method to reproduce this soil – also known as Amazonian dark earths – and say it can pull substantial amounts of carbon out of the Earth’s atmosphere, and so help prevent global warming. That’s because terra preta is loaded with so-called “bio-char” – similar to charcoal.

“The knowledge that we can gain from studying the Amazonian dark earths, found throughout the Amazon River region, not only teaches us how to restore degraded soils, treble crop yields and support a wide array of crops in regions with agriculturally poor soils, but also can lead to technologies to sequester carbon in soil and prevent critical changes in world climate” says Johannes Lehmann, assistant professor of biogeochemistry in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University, speaking at the 2006 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
(21 February 2006)

States are already pushing to end our addiction to oil

Neal A. Peirce, Houston chronnicle
States are starting to come to the nation’s rescue, passing a range of energy-saving measures to counteract official Washington’s myopia on the perils of global warming and our overwhelming dependence on foreign oil.

That’s the message from the state PIRGs — public interest research groups active in 30 states. They make a strong case that notwithstanding President Bush’s newfound recognition of America’s “addiction to oil,” it’s in states that the most hopeful, scientifically sound energy-saving programs are taking shape.

If the Bush administration is serious about moving in a new direction on energy, say the critics, there are breakthrough state strategies it can support and emulate.
(20 February 2006)