Dear Earth Talk: What are “dirty fuels” and why are they so called?— Bill Green, Seattle, WAThe term “dirty fuels” refers to fuels derived from tar sands, oil shale or liquid coal. Just like their more conventional fossil fuel counterparts such as petroleum and coal, they can be turned into gasoline, diesel and other energy sources that can generate extreme amounts of particulate pollution, carbon emissions and ecosystem destruction during their lifecycles from production to consumption.“Because tar sands [have] more sulfur, nitrogen, and metals in [them] than conventional oil, upgrading and refining [them] causes a lot more air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” reports the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental non-profit. “On a lifecycle basis—that is, extraction all the way through combustion—tar sands cause about 20 percent more global warming pollution than conventional oil,” adds NRDC. “Oil shale and liquid coal are even worse, causing nearly 50 percent more global warming pollution and over double the lifecycle emissions of conventional oil…”In North America, the majority of such fuels come from Canada’s vast boreal forest, to where tens of millions of birds flock each spring to nest. “Tar sands oil development creates open pit mines, habitat fragmentation, toxic waste holding ponds, air and water pollution, upgraders and refineries, and pipelines spreading far beyond the Boreal forest,” reports NRDC. “This development is destroying habitat for waterfowl and songbirds that come from all over the Americas to nest in the Boreal.”Beyond impacts at the extraction sites, dirty fuels cause pollution problems all down the line. For this reason, environmental leaders are opposed to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline which, if approved and built, would transport tar sands fuels through the Midwestern U.S. to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.“Refinery communities like Port Arthur, Texas…are already unable to comply with their air pollution regulations, so dirtier fuel is the last thing they need in their refineries,” adds NRDC.And while dirty fuels may reduce our reliance on foreign oil, they won’t help reduce gas prices as they are so expensive to produce that gas prices would have to be higher than they already are in order for them to be profitable. “They also can’t help with stabilizing gas prices in the case of a disruption to oil shipments because each new tar sands project requires huge infrastructure and capital investments, so it takes years for new tar sands projects to come on-line—it’s not as though there is loads of spare tar sands oil just waiting to be put through the pipelines,” says NRDC’s Elizabeth Shope.“The fact is, we don’t need these fuels,” she adds. “We can reduce oil consumption by increasing fuel efficiency standards, and greater use of hybrid cars, renewable energy and environmentally sustainable biofuels. What’s called ‘smart growth’—how we design our communities—is also a very important element in meeting our transportation needs.“North America stands at an energy crossroads [and] we now face a choice: to set a course for a more sustainable energy future of clean, renewable fuels, or to develop ever-dirtier sources of transportation fuel derived from fossil fuels—at an even greater cost to our health and environment.”For more information, contact nrdc.org.
(REUTERS)-Germany survived a whirlwind assault by Chile and capitalised on an awful mistake by the South Americans to claim a 1-0 victory in a pulsating, bad-tempered Confederations Cup final on Sunday.Germany won the title for the first time after Lars Stindl scored the only goal in the 20th minute when Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz gave the ball away on the edge of his own area.Chile, playing with their trademark high octane style and driven forward by another relentless display by Arturo Vidal, dominated the match but were let down by poor finishing.A dramatic game featured missed chances, defensive howlers, scuffles and two video reviews, one producing a highly controversial outcome in the second half.Chile defender Gonzalo Jara elbowed Timo Werner by the touchline and Serbian referee Milorad Mazic, alerted by the video assistants, let Jara off with a yellow card instead of a red.Shortly afterwards, Mazic turned down Chilean appeals for a penalty, stood by his original decision after another review incident and booked Eduardo Vargas for drawing an imaginary television screen.It was a remarkable achievement for Germany to lift the trophy with a young, experimental squad, although it could also be a bad omen as no team has ever won the World Cup after winning the Confederations Cup the year before.Chile flew into the game in their inimitable style and Alexis Sanchez should have put them in front, but shot wide from close range after keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen parried Vidal’s shot.Germany struck almost immediately as Diaz lost the ball on the edge of his penalty area to Timo Werner who slipped it through for Stindl to score into an open goal.Chile kept missing their chances, continued to look vulnerable on the break and nearly gifted Germany another goal before halftime when Jara gave the ball away in defence, but this time Claudio Bravo saved Leon Goretzka’s shot.Germany were happy to contain Chile and play on their mistakes in the second half, although they were living dangerously at times.Substitute Angelo Sagal scooped the ball over the bar from close range and Ter Stegen pushed away an Alexis Sanchez free kick in almost the last action of the game.
HOUSTON (AP) – The only thing that could stop Kemba Walker and Connecticut’s amazing run was the final buzzer.On a night when the massive arena felt like a dusty old gym, UConn made Butler look like the underdog it really was, winning the national championship Monday night with an old-fashioned, grinding 53-41 beatdown of the Bulldogs.Walker finished with 16 points for the Huskies (32-9), who won their 11th straight game since closing the regular season with a 9-9 Big East record that foreshadowed none of this.They closed it out with a defensive showing for the ages, holding Butler to a 12-for-64 shooting. That’s 18.8 percent, the worst ever in a title game, which made for an ugly overall night but turned into the kind of game a grizzled old coach like Jim Calhoun could love.At age 68, he became the oldest coach to win the NCAA championship and joined John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, John Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as only the fifth coach to win three NCAA titles.He did it by accepting the reality that the rim was about as wide as a pancake on a defensive-minded night in Houston, by making his players pound the ball inside and insisting on the kind of defense that UConn played during this remarkable run, but which often got overshadowed by Walker’s theatrics.Connecticut outscored Butler by an amazing 26-2 in the paint. The Bulldogs (28-10), in their second straight title game and hoping to put the closing chapter on the ultimate “Hoosiers” story, went a mind-numbing 13 minutes, 26 seconds in the second half without making a field goal.During that time, a 25-19 lead turned into a 41-28 deficit. This for a team that never trailed Duke by more than six during last year’s epic final.That time, Gordon Hayward’s desperation halfcourt heave bounced off the backboard and rim, barely missing. This time, UConn was celebrating before the buzzer sounded, Calhoun pumping his fists and hugging an assistant while the Huskies ran to the sideline and soaked in the confetti.The version of “Hoosiers” with the happy ending is still available on DVD.UConn, meanwhile, gets the real celebration.Joining Walker in double figures were Jeremy Lamb with 12 points, including six during UConn’s pullaway run, and Alex Oriakhi with 11 points and 11 rebounds.It’s been a rough year for the Huskies and their coaching lifer, whose season was tarnished by an NCAA investigation that found Calhoun failed to create an atmosphere of compliance in the program. He admitted he wasn’t perfect and has begrudgingly accepted the three-game suspension he’ll have to serve when the Big East regular season starts next year.Then again, given this performance, it’s clear UConn does its best work when it’s all-or-nothing, one-and-done.Counting three wins at the Maui Invitational, Connecticut finished 14-0 in tournament games this year – including an unprecedented five-wins-in-five-nights success at the Big East tournament, then six games – two each week – in the one that really counts, one of the most unpredictable versions of March Madness ever.