Environmental News

Environmental and Energy Collaboration

Environmental and Energy Collaboration
A community of interest focused on solutions bringing together U.S. Southern Command, partner nations from Central America, South America and the Caribbean, interagency academia, non-governmental organizations and private voluntary organizations.

  • The Power of Social Networks: The DARPA Experiment

    On December 5th, 2009; MIT researchers shocked DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) by completing an envisioned several day experiment in less than 9 hours.  The experiment was to locate 10 red balloons that DARPA placed throughout the United States (see link below).  Through social networking techniques, researchers connected to colleagues to find the balloons.  I was amazed at the speed at which this was accomplished and can’t wait for the documentation to be published. It further supports the reason why this site is here; the popular notion that “six degrees of separation” connect us with everyone on the planet.  I wonder if that holds true for our field of experts. It will be interesting to see the results. I look forward to the day when a member can post a “request for inquiry” in the forums section and within 9 hours have an answer.

    DARPA link:

    http://www.darpa.mil/news/2009/DARPAnetworkchallengewinner2009.pdf

    “DARPA announced the Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the ARPANet, pre-cursor to today’s Internet, to explore how broad-scope problems can be tackled using social networking tools. The Challenge explores basic research issues such as mobilization, collaboration, and trust in diverse social networking constructs and could serve to fuel innovation across a wide spectrum of applications.” - DARPA

  • Testing the GEORSS feature

    This is a test of the geotagged items...

  • The Greening Diplomacy Initiative Leading by Example

    March 20, 2013

    “As we deepen our commitment to the promotion of clean, renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation, our embassies abroad and facilities at home become platforms for eco-diplomacy – models of sustainability that reflect and project America’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship, reduce operating costs, and conserve our resources.”

    Secretary of State John Kerry

    The Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) aims to improve the environmental sustainability of the U.S. Department of State’s global operations and to encourage foreign embassies in Washington to do the same. Advanced by the Department’s Greening Council in 2009, the GDI challenges the Department to develop and implement policies and actions that lessen its overall environmental footprint, reduce costs, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.

    Presidential Directive

    President Barack Obama instructed federal agencies to develop, implement, and annually update a strategic sustainability plan to meet energy, water, and waste reduction targets (Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.) Agencies are rated on Energy Management, Transportation Management, and Environmental Stewardship. The State Department consistently receives high marks in all three areas of the Office of Management and Budget’s Sustainability/Energy Scorecard related to domestic operations.

    Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

    The State Department has established a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal of 20% by FY2020 for its domestically controlled facilities (relative to a FY2008 baseline) for emissions created by building power generation. The Department also established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 2% for emissions from waste, energy transmission loss, and travel.

    Recent State Department Milestones

    *     Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from domestic buildings by 34% from FY2008 baseline.

    *     Reduced energy intensity of its headquarters by 15% since 2003; achieving Energy Star rating.

    *     Since FY2009, achieved over $18 million in energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs).

    *     Built its first domestic LEED Platinum facility along with 4 LEED Gold, 3 LEED Silver and 7 LEED certified embassies and consulates overseas, and 35 LEED projects underway.

    *     Increased number of vehicles using alternative fuels to 45% of domestic fleet.

    *     Established air- and commuter-travel teams to make employee travel more environmentally and energy efficient.

    *     In lieu of FY 2012 travel, enrolled over 60,000 trainees for online training; hosted over 33,000 digital video conferences and 1,300 web conferencing programs; and employed 209 virtual interns.

    Joining with D.C. Foreign Missions

    The D.C. Greening Embassies Forum established by the State Department and Earth Day Network was launched on Earth Day 2010. It consists of Washington, D.C.-based foreign missions and international organizations, and shares challenges, experiences, and best practices on green facility renovations. In 2012, the Forum brought together over 50 diplomatic missions and international institutions in Washington, D.C. to sign a pledge with the city and its mayor. They committed to maintain their operations sustainably and to pursue environmental and efficiency goals that parallel those of the District of Columbia.

    Saving Energy at Little or No Cost

    The Department is meeting a significant portion of its GHG reductions at zero net cost through installing energy saving measures, such as efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures, financed in part through ESPCs. Contractors install energy saving equipment throughout Department buildings and the energy cost savings from these measures pays contractors for a set number of years.

    Sharing Employees’ Ideas

    The State Department established an internal GDI website where domestic offices and U.S. missions overseas may exchange sustainability practices, propose innovative solutions, and search for Department resources. The Department also encourages online discussions with its workforce on greening issues.

  • "Climate-gate"

    As we begin this new Environmental Security Community of Interest, I pondered what would be a fitting first blog.  Then a dear friend, Dr. Adriana Cantillo, forwarded an article to me (See link below).   I do not want to pass judgment on these scientists but I do want to comment on the greater picture.  As we move forward, to discuss issues and potential solutions, we must be mindful that this world is full of "buzz words".   Climate Change is one of those words.  Therefore, it is important that we respect all professional analysis and data on this subject even if it is contradicting to our own.  It is through the acceptance of all valid research and data that we move forward to present the best solution to a problem.  If data is contradicting, we must not throw it out; we must ask ourselves the question 'why?'  Hopefully, the forums on this site will offer that opportunity for good discussion and seeking out the opinions of our colleagues.

    I look forward to hosting this community of interest and I welcome any suggestions to make this a successful exchange between my colleagues. 

    Go here for the article in the New York Times

    www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/science/earth/02scientist.html?_r=2&ref=instapundit

  • Scenarios for environment and security issues

    While general trends may be identifiable, impacts may vary hugely between regions and from year to year. Identifying the security implications of climate change therefore
    requires a case-by-case approach at the regional level. For these reasons, the OSCE and its joint implementation partner, the European Environment Agency (EEA), have adopted a
    participatory scenario-building approach to project implementation, with the aim of improving understanding of the issues and providing a basis for discussing strategies to avoid the main risks
    identified.

  • Environmental Security Experiment February 17th - Participate!

    The U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) J7, Theater Engagement Directorate, Science, Technology and Experimentation Division, is conducting an Environmental Security (ES) Experiment.  The objective of the experiment is to determine what role(s), if any, that US Department of Defense (DoD) could or should play in addressing ES.  To achieve this, the experiment will employ the All Partners Access Network (APAN) Environmental Security (ES) Community of Interest (COI) and its associated tools to provide information sharing, improve situational awareness and enable collaboration to address key issues associated with one aspect of energy security: Smart grid deployment and integration in USSOUTHCOM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) for the purpose of enhancing energy security.   But, the focus will be on discussing and exploring the possible role(s), if any, for US DoD in ES. Find out More

  • Food Security: Top To-Do List for G20 in 2011

    Food prices are showing clear signs for concern, they are now higher in real terms than any time since 1984. This is the second price spike in less than four years and the G20 is making food security top of its 2011 to-do list.  What is the role (if any) of DOD in alleviating this?  Here are some facts to consider:

    1. Temporary Factors:  Drought in Russia and Argentina; Flods in Canada and Pakistan; Export bans by countries to maintain their own supplies (regardless of what this does to worldwide prices); Weaker dollar; Rise in energy prices (significant component of fertilizer prices);
    2. Structural Factors:  Over the coming decades, food production will have to rise by 70% by 2050 to keep pace with population growth;  For the first time since the 1960s, the yields of the world's most important crops (wheat and rice) are rising more slowly than the global population.

    The scenario of food shortages and the feedback to security are Malthusian, and in just the same way Science and Technology may have a big role to play.  More specifically, countries that produce one tonne per hectare will have to produce two; the vast amounts of food wasted on poor countries' farms (a third or more of the total according to The Economist), must be saved; and plant breeders will have to reverse the long decline in yield investments.  Without changes, there will not just be a billion hungry people (India's population) but 2 billion extra in 2050.  The rise on production may nevertheless needs to occur without inflicting misery to the poor if we want to avert the consequences to security.

    What is the role of the Department of Defense and more specifically of SOUTHCOM?  Some are calling for investment and transfer of research advances to limit the negative impacts on the poor.  

    What do you think?  This week's The Economist (Feb 24th 2011 edition) has an expanded set of articles on the topic of Food Security for those that have access to the magazine and wish to get better informed on the subject.

  • May 6: Food Security is 'priority' for Washington: Clinton. "...Rioting in Dozens of Countries...accompanied previous price spikes..."

    Food security is 'priority' for Washington: Clinton

    ROME — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Friday about rising food prices and said food security was "a foreign policy priority" for the United States in a speech to the UN's food agency.

    "Global food crises are once again on the rise," Clinton said in Rome, adding: "Food security is a foreign policy priority for our country."

    "We must act now effectively and cooperatively to blunt the negative impact of rising food prices and protect people and communities."

    She also referred to the outbreaks of rioting in dozens of countries that accompanied previous price spikes in 2007 and 2008.

    More than a billion people suffer from hunger around the world.

    An estimate from the World Bank cited by Clinton said that high food prices had already pushed 44 million people into poverty in the past 12 months.

    Clinton is to fly out later on Friday, a day after international talks in the Italian capital in which she announced humanitarian aid for Libya's rebels and said the US would tap frozen assets of Moamer Kadhafi's regime.

  • Clinton Calls on Nations to Cooperate Against Rising Food Costs

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the world to fund agriculture and counter the destabilizing effects of food prices close to record highs.

    Prices for staples such as corn and rice this year surged to the highest level in more than two years. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s index of 55 commodities rose to 232.1 points in April, down from an all-time high of 237.2 in February.

    “We must act now cooperatively and collaboratively to blunt the impact of rising food prices,” Clinton said, speaking to about 400 international delegates at the FAO, an arm of the United Nations in Rome.

    The cost of living in the U.S. rose at its fastest pace since December 2009 in the 12 months ended in March, the same month in which Chinese consumer prices rose by the most since 2008. TheEuropean Central Bank raised interest rates on April 7, joining ChinaIndia, Poland and Sweden in a bid to control inflation partly blamed on food costs. Costlier food also contributed to riots across northern Africa and the Middle East that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia this year.

    Clinton and President Barack Obama have funneled administration resources into food security, which the U.S. sees as integral to stabilizing developing countries.

    At the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy in July 2009, global leaders said they would “act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.” Obama pledged at least $3.5 billion over three years to help leverage more than $18.5 billion in support of a global approach.

    Agricultural Chain

    The Feed the Future program that Clinton’s State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development oversee aims to “strengthen the entire agricultural chain,” Clinton said.

    That includes creating better seeds, connecting farmers to local and larger markets, and encouraging crop diversity and better nutrition, Clinton said.

    She urged delegates to renew their commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security.

    “We’ve learned a lot but we haven’t applied it all and we haven’t brought it to scale,” Clinton said, acknowledging that this was hard to do even within her own government.

    “If we do not act now to increase the opportunity to increase security we may never catch up,” said Clinton, who is wrapping up two days of meetings in Rome.

    Food output will have to climb by 70 percent from 2010 to 2050 as the world population swells to 9 billion and rising incomes boost meat and dairy consumption, the FAO forecasts. Producing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pork can take 3.5 kilograms of feed, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.

    About 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since June by the “dangerous levels” of food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in February. Another 10 million may join them should the UN food index rise another 10 percent, the World Bank said April 16. The number of hungry people in the world globally declined last year to 925 million from more than 1 billion in 2009, according to the FAO.

  • Dominican Republic's capital on alert for Cholera

    Health authorities in the Dominican Republic have issued an alert in parts of the capital, Santo Domingo, amid suspected cholera cases.

    The health ministry has ordered increased monitoring and urged people to take extra care with hygiene.

    Some 16 people are in hospital with suspected cholera.

    The Dominican Republic has had 14 cholera deaths in recent months, while more than 4,500 have died in neighbouring Haiti since late 2010.

    Monitoring has been stepped up in 17 mainly poor neighbourhoods of Santo Domingo.

    Like Haiti, the Dominican Republic had not had a confirmed case of cholera in more than a century until the outbreak began in October.

    The Dominican Republic tightened its border controls and stepped up health checks to try to stop cholera from spreading from Haiti soon after the first cases were reported.

    The first case in the Dominican Republic was detected in November and the first death in January.

  • United States and Russian Federation to Conduct Joint Inspection in Antarctica

    Media Note
    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    January 21, 2012

    The United States and the Russian Federation will send a joint team to inspect foreign stations, installations and equipment in Antarctica from January 23 to January 28, 2012. The inspection will be conducted pursuant to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and its Environmental Protocol. The State Department and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will co-lead the inspection, which is the first joint inspection conducted by either country.

    The U.S. National Science Foundation (U.S. Antarctic Program) and the Russian Antarctic Expedition will support the joint inspection.

    The U.S.-Russian team will review adherence by Treaty Parties to their obligations, including with respect to limiting environmental impacts, ensuring that Antarctica is used only for peaceful purposes and that Parties honor the prohibition on measures of a military nature. The United States last conducted an Antarctic inspection in 2006.

    The Department of State coordinates U.S. policy on Antarctica with NSF and other federal agencies. It leads diplomatic efforts within the framework established by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, signed in Washington, to ensure Antarctica’s status as a continent reserved for peace and science.

    For further information on the Antarctic Treaty, visit http://www.state.gov/g/oes/rls/rpts/ant/ <http://www.state.gov/g/oes/rls/rpts/ant/>

  • Remarks for the Environmental Cooperation Agreement Signing

    Remarks

    Robert D. Hormats
    Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs 
    Washington, DC
    January 23, 2012
    Ambassador Han, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen—good morning. Let me begin by thanking all participants for joining us in the signing of the Environmental Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

    Our two governments have a deeply rooted partnership which has endured over decades. Our alliance—as Secretary Clinton noted—is a “symbol of security, stability, peace, and prosperity.”

    The Environmental Cooperation Agreement will further strengthen our partnership. Together, we can: combat illegal logging and trade in wildlife; reduce air and water pollution; increase the use of environmentally friendly materials and the recycling of waste; and implement measures to ensure that our transportation sectors—our cars, airplanes, and ships—meet high environmental standards.

    The Environmental Cooperation Agreement was negotiated in parallel with the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which President Obama noted as having groundbreaking protections for the environment during President Lee’s October visit to the United States. The two texts reference one another, which, combined, will orient the United States and Korea to lead the world as we transition to a green economy.

    This transition has the potential to grow our economies and create millions of jobs. But it will not be easy. Nine out of ten units of energy that we consume today are produced by hydrocarbons—coal, oil, and natural gas. The United States and Korea—along with the broader global community—must work together to include the environment as a variable in our economic calculus.

    Despite the obstacles ahead, I have high hopes because our nations have repeatedly exceeded expectations over the past fifty years. Recall that Korea grew from nominal per capita GDP of approximately $100 in 1962 to almost $21,000 in 2010.

    Improvements in labor productivity was a key component of our economic growth in the twentieth-century. The management of natural resources—the environment—will define our success in the 21st century.

    At our present level of resource productivity, our planet can feed and accommodate some 1.5 billion people at the OECD country standard of living. The world today has 7 billion people. There is an obvious gap, which is why we need new ideas and new solutions to raise standards of living around the world in a way that’s sustainable, as well as change the way we ourselves live. The U.S.-Korea Environmental Cooperation Agreement inches us towards that reality.

    Before I turn to Ambassador Han, I will also note that we are cooperating with the Republic of Korea on another environmental venture this summer.

    The United States will host a pavilion at the 2012 Yeosu World Expo, which will have an environmental theme: The Living Oceans and Coast. The U.S. pavilion will showcase our diversity, values, and demonstrate the innovation and creativity of American companies. The pavilion will highlight how we can work collaboratively to solve our common global environmental challenges.

    We hope that today’s event serves as a reminder of the strong and important relationship between our countries. Thank you.

  • Secretary Clinton's Participation in "Brazil-U.S.: Partnership for the 21st Century" Conference

    Media Note
    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    April 9, 2012


    Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in and delivered opening remarks at the “Brazil-U.S.: Partnership for the 21st Century” conference, alongside Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.

    This conference takes place during Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to the United States and reflects the depth and positive focus of the bilateral relationship. The Partnership for the 21st Century conference is a joint effort to continue to grow commercial, economic, educational, and innovation ties between our two countries. The event includes panel discussions on business and trade advancements and on education and innovation cooperation, including President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas goal and President Rousseff’s Science without Borders initiatives.

    Various documents and agreements were signed on the margins of the conference. These included an Aviation Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an MOU on State and Local Cooperation, an MOU on Trilateral Cooperation on Food Security in Haiti and Honduras, an Action Plan on Science and Technology Cooperation, an MOU between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Brazil’s Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES), and a Fulbright-Science without Borders Scholar and Distinguished Chair agreement between CAPES and the U.S.-Brazil Fulbright Commission to expand research exchanges. Other interagency agreements related to education, culture, environment, sustainable development, and trade were also signed.

  • Brazil Forest Investment Program

    In September 2010, the Government of Brazil confirmed its interest to participate in the Forest Investment Program (FIP) as a pilot country. The FIP is a targeted program under the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF), part of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The main objective of the Program is to support the efforts of developing and emerging countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through public and private investments.

    Brazil is home to several relevant forest biomes, notably the Amazon and the Cerrado, and balancing economic development with conservation in these areas is an on-going challenge. The country has been making and implementing increasingly effective policies to control and reduce deforestation and CO2 emission

    For more follow Link

  • Tamiami Trail Restoration

    Tamiami Trail Restoration
    The Project:
    In 2005, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers devised a plan to erect an
    Everglades Skyway - an 11-mile bridge to replace part of the road just west
    of Miami. But, Congress eventually allocated enough funds to construct a
    one-mile bridge in 2008. After the preconstruction and design phase of the
    one-mile bridge plan was complete, an $81 million contract was approved in
    2008 and groundbreaking took place in December 2009.

    In addition to the bridge construction, plans are being evaluated for an
    additional series of bridges and/or elevations of the Tamiami Trail to
    facilitate additional water flow. This effort will be critical to the
    recovery of the Everglades and Florida Bay. Everglades Foundation scientists
    see the one-mile bridge as a critical first step to improve water flow
    through the barrier. "Our scientists will be monitoring the impact of
    improved water flow along Tamiami Trail. One area of particular interest is
    the effect of improved water flow on highly toxic mercury levels," says Van
    Lent. The fluctuating mercury levels will help scientists understand how the
    introduction of more fresh water will affect the ecosystem. That will help
    government agencies make enlightened decisions on restoration. "If we do
    restoration, we don't want to do anything with unintended consequences,"
    adds Van Lent.

    The Future
    The U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service released a draft
    Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in May 2010 that recommends an
    additional 5.5 miles of bridging on Tamiami Trail in addition to the one
    mile of bridging currently under construction to restore natural water flows
    to the Everglades.  The new bridging would create an opportunity to restore
    up to 100 percent of the historic volume and distribution of water that used
    to flow southward into Northeast Shark River Slough before the Trail was
    constructed. If completed, the additional bridging would eliminate the
    hydrologic constraints throughout much of the southern Everglades, including
    the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. For more
    information on the draft EIS visit: http://parkplanning.nps.gov.

    The Tamiami Trail bridge is part of a larger effort to "de-compartmentalize"
    the Everglades to restore the natural flow of the River of Grass. While the
    Everglades will never be restored to its once pristine state, projects such
    as the Tamiami Trail bridge are part of a solution to allow the Everglades
    to benefit from free-flowing water which could revitalize plant and animal
    populations and sustain the water supply for South Florida's human
    inhabitants. "We're on a track to demonstrating really tangible results in
    the saga of Everglades restoration," says Van Lent. "We're putting a big
    hole in the dam."


  • Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan

    The Restudy: Central & Southern Florida Project (C&SF) legislation that passed in 1948 was south Florida’s existing water management system. The project provided water supply, water management and other benefits. Due to adverse affects the plan is now being modified under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

     

    CERP provides a framework and guide to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida, including the Everglades. It covers 16 counties over an 18,000-square-mile area and centers on an update of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) Project also known as the Restudy.

     

    The Plan was approved in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. It includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct and the current estimate in Oct 2007 dollars is $9.5 billion for projects ($11.9 overall including PLA and AAM).

     

    Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 1992) provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the authority to re-evaluate the C&SF Project and to recommend improvements and modifications to the project in order to restore the ecosystem.

     

    The goal of CERP is to capture fresh water that now flows unused to the ocean and the gulf and redirect it to areas that need it most. The majority of the water will be devoted to environmental restoration, reviving a dying ecosystem. The remaining water will benefit cities and farmers by enhancing water supplies for the south Florida economy.

  • Encuenta del Evento

    Encuenta del Evento Espanol

  • Event Survey

    Event Survey - English

  • Water Wars in the 21st Century

    The following link has an interesting article.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/06/2011622193147231653.html

  • Bringing The Consumption of Resources on Installations to Zero (Questions & Answers)

    Ms. Kristine Kingery is the U.S. Army's expert implementing Net Zero to manage Energy, Water and Waste at U.S. Army Installations. She leads the U.S. Army's Net Zero Pilot Installation Initiative that strives to bring the overall consumption of resources on installations down to an effective rate of zero. This week she will be responding to questions you might have concerning this subject. In addition, she will be participating on our live chat session scheduled for 10 Dec at 2:00pm (Miami time).

    Kristine and I look forward to your questions.

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