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Sierra magazine
Up to Speed: Two Months, One Page

Beyond "Beyond Petroleum": BP quietly shutters its alternative-energy division.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) calls for 100 new nuclear power plants by 2030.

Ontario, Canada, cancels a plan to build two nuclear power plants after the sole bid comes in three times higher than expected.

More than 40 million acres of public land are protected from development after the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit restores the Clinton-era "roadless rule," which the Bush administration blocked.

Interior secretary Ken Salazar nixes new uranium mining on 1 million acres of public land around the Grand Canyon.

Salazar's attempt to protect Appalachian streams from mountaintop-removal coal-mining waste is struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

North Carolina protects its mountaintops-from wind turbines. By a vote of 42 to 1, the state senate bans large turbines from windy mountaintops and ridgelines on the grounds that they're ugly.

The North Carolina senate also rejects unsightly clotheslines, killing a bill guaranteeing a "right to dry" clothes outside. Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont have passed clothesline-protection bills this year.

Bolivia bans animals in circuses.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seeks to rename fish "sea kittens."

A Berlin brothel offers discounts for customers arriving by bicycle or public transportation.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be capped at 350 parts per million. The last IPCC report, in 2007, set a target of 450 ppm. The current level is 387.

A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that the average fuel efficiency of U.S. cars has improved by only three miles per gallon since the days of the Model T.

The EPA grants California a waiver (first requested in 2005) allowing it to require cars sold in the state to meet greenhouse-gas standards stricter than those imposed by the federal government. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have followed California's lead.

A record number of new clean-energy patents-274-are granted in 2009's second quarter.

Unhappy with the EPA's April declaration that climate change endangers public health, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls for a public "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" on the issue. "It would be evolution versus creationism," says a chamber official. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

The State Department approves construction of a pipeline to carry oil from the tar-sand fields of Alberta, Canada, to Wisconsin. Greenhouse-gas emissions from tar-sand oil production are three to five times those of conventional crude oil.

Global ocean surface temperatures in June were the highest since record keeping began in 1880, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The U.S. Postal Service's mail volume is expected to fall by 28 billion pieces this year, equivalent to some 14 million trees. Reasons: the recession, e-mail, and online bill payment.

The fluid dynamics of swimming jellyfish and sea kittens may stir the oceans with as much force as the wind or the tides. --Paul Rauber


 

Photos and illustrations, left column from top: iStockphoto/tforgo, iStockphoto/sturti, iStockphoto/ranplett, courtesy of PETA; right column, from top: iStockphoto/Graffizone, iStockphoto/mittymatty

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