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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    report on how climate change may shrink the insurance industry and the seismic economic shock this would deliver to homeowners and businesses He says that one solution under discussion is for the federal government to act as a backstop shielding the private insurance industry from risk But that s a bad idea for two reasons 1 The cost of underwriting climate change would be astronomical The House has already passed bills that would make the federal government the insurer of last resort and expand the federal flood insurance in program ways that would quadruple its risk But this de facto adaptation funding is utterly unsustainable The federal government can t afford to underwrite climate change impacts The flood insurance program is already near bankruptcy due to costs from Katrina and other huge storms 2 Federal funds should be used to reduce risks not insurance rates Subsidized federally backed insurance would keep rates artificially low thus encouraging people to continue building in high risk coastal areas This is not an effective use of government resources Government s focus shouldn t be on reducing insurance rates but rather reducing the risk to people and their homes from climate change The way to

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20080404_InsuranceIndustry.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    old bulbs to burn out Don t leave chargers plugged in when not in use They suck up electricity just sitting there Buy energy efficient appliances Turn off your computer at night rather than leaving it in stand by mode Many appliances such as televisions can t be completely turned off except by unplugging them Appliances in stand by mode account for 5 percent of the electricity used in the U S To turn them off completely use a power strip Paper comes from trees which suck up carbon so Buy recycled paper products Visit our Paper Calculator to learn more about why this helps Use only the paper towels and toilet paper that you need Only print out emails and articles when you really need to Recycle paper newspapers magazines scratch paper junk mail everything you can You can cancel unwanted catalogs at Catalog Choice Bring a reusable shopping bag with you to the store Manufacturing products of any kind uses energy and creates emissions so Don t buy things you don t need and won t use Borrow from your local library instead of buying books you ll read only once Give away or recycle what you no longer want Give old eyeglasses to your local eyeglass store they can pass them onto people in need Bring your old cell phone back to the cell phone store for recycling Give away old appliances computers clothes etc Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources It takes a significant amount of electricity to supply municipal water so Take showers instead of baths and don t linger in the shower Turn off the water while brushing your teeth Don t run dish washers and clothes washers half full Don t water your lawn unnecessarily Fix leaky faucets and install low

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20071113_PersonalImpact.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    the most between 2001 and 2006 are four are on the coast Florida 77 percent increase Maryland 76 percent increase Virginia 67 percent increase Minnesota 66 percent increase Louisiana 65 percent increase And these increases are just averages In many high risk coastal areas rates have tripled or quadrupled In Miami Beach rates increased 500 percent between 2002 and 2006 In Alabama the insurance premium for a 35 unit beachfront condominium building went up more than 10 fold from 35 000 to 424 000 Premiums are rising because risks are rising Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused 26 5 billion in damages and pushed 12 insurance companies into insolvency There were no major hurricanes for a while so beachfront home building grew Then in 2004 hurricanes Charley Frances Ivan and Jeanne caused 40 billion in damages with 22 5 billion insured losses That was bad enough but 2005 saw hurricanes Katrina Rita and Wilma which caused more than 55 billion in insured losses When insurance companies aren t allowed to raise their rates enough to cover their risk or when they can t buy enough reinsurance insurance for insurance companies to protect themselves they simply stop writing policies Allstate no longer offers coverage to 40 000 coastal homeowners in New York In Florida it shed 320 000 policies and no longer writes new policies statewide It also stopped writing coverage in coastal areas of Texas Louisiana and Mississippi and stopped covering wind damage in Texas Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company stopped writing new homeowners policies in Long Island cancelled 35 000 policies in Florida and requested a 71 percent increase in Florida homeowner rates It also cut back on policies along the coast of Maryland and Virginia State Farm Insurance Companies is writing fewer policies all along the coastal U S and

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20071102_CoastalInsurance.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    mile is itself problematic A mile travelled by a large truck full of groceries is not the same as a mile travelled by a mini van carrying a crate of carrots A report published by DEFRA PDF Britain s environment and farming ministry says it s more useful to think in terms of food vehicle miles the miles travelled by vehicles carrying food and food tonne miles which considers the tonnage being carried The DEFRA report contains several counterintuitive findings Trucking in tomatoes from Spain during the winter produces less greenhouse gas emissions than growing them in heated greenhouses in Britain A shift towards local food systems might actually increase the number of food vehicle miles travelled This is because supermarket based food systems have central distribution depots short supply chains and big full trucks In local food systems food is distributed in a larger number of smaller less efficiently packed vehicles But the DEFRA report is not the last word on the subject The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture found different results in its 2001 study Food Fuel and Freeways They reported that conventional food systems used 4 to 17 times more fuel and emitted 5 to 17 times more CO 2 than local and regional food systems depending on the system and truck type A Lincoln University study PDF included elements they called factor inputs and externalities in analyzing the impact of food miles for example the amount of water and fertilizer used harvesting and storage techniques means of transport and dozens of other aspects of cultivation They found that lamb raised on New Zealand s lush pastures and shipped 11 000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1 520 pounds of CO 2 per ton while British lamb produced 6 280 pounds The reason British pastures provide

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20071011_FoodMiles.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    Cool New Energy Technologies We know we need energy to power well everything And we know that if we continue to get our power mainly from fossil fuels we re in big trouble So where do we get it Most people have heard about solar power and wind power but there are some other alternatives that may be new to you If you like mountain climbing have you ever noticed how windy it is when you get to the top Of the many attempts to harness high altitude wind power one of the most promising is the Flying Electric Generator FEG The FEG is basically a helicopter with no cabin and looks a little like a giant kite Then there s the power of ocean waves The Canadian company Finavera Renewables is using buoys to capture wave energy for offshore power plants It s like hydroelectric power but without the need for dams Another possibility is geothermal power energy from heat stored beneath the Earth s surface The U S Department of Energy supports research into geothermal power and there are already geothermal power plants in five states While these technologies are still in early stages of development they hold

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20070911_NewEnergyTech.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    gasoline and diesel fuel and compressed natural gas CNG also can power cars Petroleum or crude oil is the black liquid pumped out of the ground It s composed of simple hydrocarbons called alkanes that for every n carbon atoms have 2n 2 hydrogen atoms For example methane has one carbon atom and four 2 1 2 hydrogen atoms At one carbon atom methane is the alkane with the shortest chain of atoms The shorter the chain the lighter the molecule so alkanes with four or fewer carbon atoms are gaseous Methane is lighter than air Alkanes with 5 19 carbon atoms are liquid at room temperature those with 20 or more carbon atoms are solid Alkanes of different weights have different uses Solvents and dry cleaning fluids are made from alkanes with 5 to 7 carbon atoms Gasoline is a blend of alkanes with 5 to 10 carbon atoms Next as the molecules get heavier is kerosene 9 16 carbon atoms then diesel fuel jet fuel home heating oil and lubricating oil The lightest of the solid chains 20 carbon atoms and higher is used to make paraffin wax Then you get tar and finally asphaltic bitumen which is used in asphalt roads As you can see from the chart above diesel fuel is heavier than gasoline more like an oil than a solvent It has a higher energy density than gasoline and thus consumes less fuel gets more miles per gallon Besides having different weights different alkane molecules have different boiling points Oil refineries use this characteristic to separate them out Gasoline diesel and natural gas have biological fuel biofuel alternatives Biofuels are fuels created from living or recently dead biological material or biomass The chart below gives a simplified mapping of fossil fuels to their biofuel alternatives

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20070905_FossilBioFuels.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    sunlight water and CO 2 to synthesize the glucose they need to grow a process called photosynthesis Since increased atmospheric CO 2 accelerates plant growth commercial greenhouses artificially raise CO 2 to what it would be under gloomy global warming scenarios Thus many see accelerated plant growth as a silver lining to the greenhouse effect But as described in the Nature article The Other Greenhouse Effect this silver lining may be insidiously tarnished There isn t a lot of research into the effects of CO 2 on plant nutrition but the studies that exist suggest a variety of negative effects Researchers have observed significantly lowered protein levels especially wheat gluten which reduces baking quality lowered trace mineral content lowered Vitamin C in potatoes and lowered calcium in soya beans problematic since soya beans are used to make dairy substitutes There is even evidence that plant yields in the real world of global warming will not be higher since other factors such as higher temperatures and drought will negate the effect of increased CO 2 Humans aren t the only ones to eat plants as Lisa points out in her post Grazing livestock also eat plants and we eat the livestock

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20070828_FoodQuality.php (2016-04-24)
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  • Sheryl Canter's Articles
    and Honda s FCX Most of this cost is in the fuel cells If history is any guide it will take decades for the cost to come down sufficiently On board fuel storage is a huge problem literally since at room temperature and pressure hydrogen takes up 3000 times more space than an energy equivalent amount of gasoline There are several ways to store hydrogen but all known approaches are complex and costly Storing hydrogen as a liquid isn t practical because it takes so much energy to liquefy and then convert back to gas Storing it as compressed gas requires 300 to 600 times atmospheric pressure and even then the tanks take up more than five times the space of a gasoline tank A National Academies study PDF noted In even the best case of improved compression efficiency and high pressure on board tanks the energy space cost and weight penalties are formidable It goes on to recommend that the U S halt efforts on high pressure tanks and cryogenic liquid storage since neither approach can reach DOE targets for energy density A Department of Energy review reached a similar conclusion There are serious safety issues with hydrogen fuel since it s among the most flammable substances known It is vastly easier to ignite than gasoline and leaks are much harder to detect and control A cell phone or flashlight could ignite it as could static electricity or an electric storm a few miles away Russell Moy former Project Manager for hydrogen storage at Ford Motor Company wrote about this in an article for the Energy Law Journal PDF Industrial experience has shown that 22 percent of hydrogen accidents are caused by undetected leaks despite the standard operating procedures of specially trained hydrogen workers With this track record it is difficult to imagine how the general public can manage hydrogen risks acceptably Chemical Engineer Reuel Sinnar put it even more strongly PDF A hydrogen car as presently envisioned is a potential suicide bomb that cannot be detected by any of the standard methods that detect explosives Producing hydrogen is expensive and energy intensive PDF The same energy currently used to create electricity would be used to create hydrogen and today this mostly involves the use of fossil fuels see House testimony of Dr John Heywood of MIT Current methods using natural gas produce significant CO 2 emissions and there is a serious question of whether a renewable fuel used to create hydrogen wouldn t be better used to replace electricity now generated from coal since generating electricity is much more efficient than producing hydrogen power for vehicles There s no fueling station infrastructure for hydrogen Building a hydrogen fuel infrastructure will be very expensive A National Renewable Energy Laboratory report estimates the cost at 837 million PDF Others say it could be tens of billions of dollars Companies hesitate to build something so expensive when there are no cars to use it Similarly automakers are reluctant to manufacture hydrogen

    Original URL path: http://sherylcanter.com/articles/edf_20070814_HydrogenFuelCells.php (2016-04-24)
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