Environment

Environment
1:41 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Seattle firm seeks to commercialize carbon dioxide conversion to methanol

EPA

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:04 pm

A small engineering firm in Seattle says it has developed a system to capture carbon dioxide going up power plant smokestacks and convert it to methanol. The solvent is also known as wood alcohol and as an Indy race car fuel.

Brett Scott is chief counsel for Emission Resource Group. He says having a viable method to refine CO2 into methanol could make it worthwhile for fossil fuel burners to capture the greenhouse gas.

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Environment
12:36 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Feds to relocate rare deer threatened by failing dike

US Fish

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:58 pm

A federal agency plans a major effort to preemptively rescue about 65 deer upriver from Astoria. The animals live on a floodplain beside the lower Columbia River.

These aren't just any deer. They're an endangered species: the Columbian white-tailed deer. One of this animal's strongholds is a national wildlife refuge near Cathlamet, Washington. But now the Columbia River is on the verge of bursting through a failing dike at the edge of the refuge.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Debris dock confirmed from 2011 tsunami; salvage bids requested

Courtesy of National Park Service

A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Rising Sea Levels
6:23 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Seattle planners predict bigger flood zones due to climate change

Department Manager Paul Fleming and Meteorologist James Rufo-Hill, of Seattle Public Utility's Climate and Sustainability Group, created the new map showing areas that are at risk for flooding during high tides and storms.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

It’s data that’s been collected and analyzed for several years now.

But predictions on how high tides and extreme storm events might combine to cause flooding in Seattle are seeming less and less like science fiction.

The City has unveiled a new map, showing huge areas that are much more likely to end up waterlogged during storms. And it says the estimates are no longer considered extreme. 

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Environment
8:34 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Climate change report shows major impacts for Northwest

Huge areas of Seattle's Port could be inundated when higher tides combine with more extreme storm surges, accdording to the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change
Bjørn Giesenbauer photo Flickr

Imagine a future in which major areas of Seattle’s waterfront are flooded because of rising tides.

Businesses that front on Elliot Bay, including the famous Edgewater Hotel, or parks such as Myrtle Edwards or Golden Gardens, would have to adjust to storm surges more than six feet higher than we’re used to.

According to a new federal report on climate change, that future is just a few decades away. 

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Environment
10:58 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Tsunami debris dock decontaminated; removal poses next challenge

Wash. Dept. of Fish

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 9:01 am

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But the story is not over yet.

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Environment
10:08 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Backers say I-522 on GMO labeling would protect state economy

Wheat fields somewhere in the Palouse. Concern over the prospect of genetically-modified crops spoiling this picture and possibly preventing wheat exports has spurred some farmers to join the I-522 campaign, for labeling of GMO foods and seed.
djniks photo Flickr

Washington voters are in the avant-garde when it comes to policies on recreational marijuana and same-sex marriage. And now a grassroots campaign wants us to lead the country on food labeling.

Backers of legislative initiative 522 say they submitted 100,000 more signatures than needed for a measure that would require companies to clearly mark products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

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Environment
5:01 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Seattle councilman wants you to eat more locally-grown food

More senes like this one, of chidren harvesting kale, would help the Northwest sustain itself into the future, says Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin.
woodleywonderworks photo Flickr

Locally grown foods are better for the environment; it takes fewer resources and produces fewer greenhouse gases to get them from farm to table.

And a new report indicates that people in western Washington could pretty easily more than double their consumption of local foods.

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Environment
2:21 am
Mon December 31, 2012

2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?

Cracks form in the bed of a dried lake in Waterloo, Neb. The drought withered crops and dried out lakes across the nation's midsection in 2012.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:55 pm

This year's extreme weather was one for the record books; 2012 is slated to be the hottest summer on record.

The worst drought in 50 years struck the South and Midwest, devastating the U.S. agriculture industry. Deadly floods and superstorms paralyzed the northeast and other parts of the country.

While the public is in shock by extreme weather events that have taken place, environmentalist Bill McKibben and other members of the science community say it is a result of climate change.

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Environment
10:12 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

"Plastics Unwrapped" puts eyes on everyday objects at Burke Museum

Bales of hundreds of disposable plastic bags show the rate at which we use them: 3,000 per every quarter of a second in the United States, say the Burke museum curators who created several of these "statistical sculptures" for their new traveling show.
courtesy Burke Museum

The  University of Washington’s 113 year-old Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is debuting a new look and feel. Curators there say they want people to think more about everyday objects and how they evoke our place in the world.

“The Life Before You” is the new tag line encouraging visitors to discover and explore the Burke’s collections. First up, as the rebranding rolls out, is a new temporary exhibition called Plastics Unwrapped.

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Krulwich Wonders
11:23 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Suddenly there's a meadow in the ocean with 'flowers' everywhere

Courtesy of Matthias Wietz

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 10:40 am

It was three, maybe four o'clock in the morning when he first saw them. Grad student Jeff Bowman was on the deck of a ship; he and a University of Washington biology team were on their way back from the North Pole. It was cold outside, the temperature had just dropped, and as the dawn broke, he could see a few, then more, then even more of these little flowery things, growing on the frozen sea.

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Environment
12:50 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Rent a living X-mas tree

You can avoid this scene and help a non-profit restore the riparian zone along local streams by renting a living tree.
Photo by by Sappymoosetree Flickr

What’s the best way to have a Christmas tree…and not feel like you’re killing it?

The Adopt-a-Stream Foundation in Everett says if you don’t mind something that looks a bit scrappy, you can have your tree and plant it too.

The foundation says it rented out 100 trees over this past weekend…and they have about 100 more available. They’ll be open 9-5 through Friday.

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Coal Exports
9:24 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Coal opponents outnumber proponents at Seattle hearing

Concern about air pollution and ocean health inspired hundreds to rally in Seattle against the proposed coal terminal near Bellingham.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

It was one of the biggest outpourings of environmental activism that Seattle has seen since the WTO protests more than a decade ago.

At Freeway Park, a giant balloon shaped like an asthma inhaler floated above a sea of red shirts and banners from the Sierra Club. There was also a giant salmon puppet accompanied by schools of ailing herring and a sad-looking polar bear. And a white-haired lady dressed like Santa held a sign that said, "SAVE MY NORTH POLE." 

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Coal Exports
5:00 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Crowds gearing up for Seattle hearing on Bellingham terminal

Should more long coal trains like this one from Wyoming be allowed to run through western Washington?
railsr4me flickr

Seattle is bracing for a big hearing.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out Thursday for a chance to testify about the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham.

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Environment
11:45 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Mazama pocket gopher slated to join endangered species list

Mazama pocket gopher
Tom Banse

The Northwest may have another species listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday proposed listing the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened in the South Puget Sound region of western Washington.

This is the third time this fall the government has moved to protect a critter that depends on dwindling Northwest prairies or coastal grasslands. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Olympia.

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