October 12

Benefits and drawbacks of bioenergy must be considered UN experts say

The report from UN-Energy, an inter-agency body established to coordinate the world body’s work in the realm of energy, is entitled “Sustainable Energy: A Framework for Decision Makers” and was funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).The study is the first of its kind to examine the issue of bioenergy through the lens of nine issues, including poverty, health, food security, agriculture, climate change, finance and trade. “We tried to create the framework to discuss it really all together because they need to be seen together,” Gustavo Best, Vice Chair of UN-Energy, said at a press briefing for the report’s launch in New York.Bioenergy is produced from biofuels – solid fuels, biogas, liquid fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel – which come from crops such as sugar cane and beet, maize and energy grass or from fuel wood, charcoal, agricultural wastes and by-products, forestry residues, livestock manure and others.The report underscores the many benefits that bioenergy provides in reducing poverty, improving access to energy and promoting rural development.A surge in oil prices has lead some of the world’s poorest countries to spend six times as much on petroleum as they do on health care, and thus bioenergy “can create a lot of opportunities,” Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General of FAO, told reporters at the briefing.“In this report, we provide a framework for the worldwide use of bioenergy, not only for the developed and industrialized world, for mitigation of climate change, but also for the poorest people to get access to a modern form of electricity.”However, it warns that “unless new policies are enacted to protect threatened lands, secure socially acceptable land use, and steer bioenergy development in a sustainable direction overall, the environmental and social damage could in some cases outweigh the benefits.”In the realm of food security, for example, price increases in major biofuel sources such as sugar, palm oil and soybeans could drive up the prices of basic foods.These detrimental possibilities must be weighed against the tremendous benefits bioenergy stands to offer, Mr. Best observed.“The biofuel market offers a new and fast-growing opportunity for agricultural producers and could contribute significantly to higher incomes and could support higher productivity growth in agriculture with positive implications for food availability, sustainability and access,” he said.Bioenergy could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives annually. In developing countries, the “kitchen killer” – or smoke inhalation from cooking with fuels such as coal and biomass, or wood, dung and crop residues – claims more lives annually than does malaria.At the national level, suggestions made to decision makers include creating bioenergy policies that take into account availability, access, stability and utilization. It also recommends that governments weigh the economic and social costs of subsidizing bioenergy sources, in particular, liquid biofuels.Meanwhile, the study proposes at the global level that signatories to the Conventions on Biological Diversity and on Combating Desertification consider opportunities for the sustainable cultivation and utilization of energy crops. It also suggests that greater emphasis is placed on promoting research on the social, scientific, technological, economic, policy and environmental facets of bioenergy development.Today’s report release coincided with the Commission on Sustainable Development – with long-term energy solutions, together with the interlinked issues of climate change, industrial development and air pollution, at the core of its agenda – which is in the midst of its two-week session. 8 May 2007As the demand for biofuels surges with over one billion people living without access to electricity, a new United Nations report released today cautions that the world’s energy needs must be met in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner. read more

October 2

Womens gymnastics Ohio State looks to keep season alive at NCAA Regionals

The Ohio State gymnastics team huddles before an event during its meet against Iowa on Jan. 21, 2017. Credit: Megan Russell | Lantern reporterAfter already having competed at the Big Ten Five-Team meet three weekends ago at the University of Illinois, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team travels to Champaign, Illinois, yet again for an NCAA Regional beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.The Buckeyes will be competing against No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 17 Iowa, No. 19 Illinois and Eastern Michigan. The top two teams from the regional competition will advance to the semifinals. Although OSU has high hopes of placing competitive scores, the Buckeyes are more concerned with working towards the goal of posting a season-high team final score during their time at regionals.“We’ve already been in the arena once, because we were there for Big Five, so it’s a familiar atmosphere,” freshman Amanda Huang said. “But there’s no pressure on us to make nationals. We can just go out there and try our best and have fun.”Based on a team’s regional qualifying score, the top 18 teams were seeded nationally and placed into the bracket that divides into six regional competitions. The remaining teams — those ranked 19 to 36 — were assigned geographically to one of the six regional locations.The top-two scoring teams from the Champaign, Seattle and Fayetteville, Arkansas, regionals will compete in one of the semifinals, while the top two teams from the Morgantown, West Virginia, Gainesville, Florida, and Lincoln, Nebraska, regionals will compete in another semifinal.UCLA is seen as the favorite to win, with Oregon State projected as a close second, but the Buckeyes will also be competing alongside conference competitors, Illinois and Iowa. OSU competed against these two teams in the Big Ten championship and was outscored by both during that final meet. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes see themselves performing on a level playing field with the Illini and Hawkeyes.“I think we’ll just use it (losing to Iowa and Illinois) as motivation,” Huang said. “They are our Big Ten opponents, but we know we have the skill level, and we’re capable of beating them.”OSU came in as the sixth seed, and although they are looking to pull a 196-range score and perform on-par with their conference competitors, the Buckeyes are not expecting to hit one of the top two spots to advance to the semifinals.“Let the cards fall where they may, but to be realistic, to be the top two, I think you’re going to have to be a high 196 to 197,” OSU coach Carey Fagan said. “We’re capable of that, but in my mind a 196 is going to be a success. Below that, I’ll feel like we under-performed.”The Buckeyes have struggled all season with making strong hits from every athlete in each rotation, which has prevented them from obtaining that 196 mark. Only in the meet at Minnesota earlier in the season did OSU break that ceiling to post a 196.450 final score.“I think our weakness is just not hitting 24 (for) 24 consistently,” Fagan said. “Even if you have one fall and you don’t have to count it — if it’s one of your best kids that you’re counting on that score — it can be a huge hit (that the team is not receiving).”The balance beam — the final rotation for the Buckeyes — has also presented a challenge for OSU.Although Fagan is not thrilled with the rotation given to OSU, she sees a learning opportunity for the team that might even minimize nerves with the less-than-desirable event order.“Beam, again, will be an area of focus,” Fagan said. “That is going to be our last event, so ending on beam, that’s going to be a good experience, win, lose or draw, for this team to be able to hit under pressure, or maybe going into it with the attitude of nothing to lose.”OSU will follow a similar rotation pattern to what they saw in the Big Ten Five-Meet, with floor exercise as the first event, vault as the second event, followed by a bye and uneven bars before balance beam. The Buckeyes will have a bye in the final rotation.OSU has had two weeks of preparation, which sophomore Jamie Stone sees as a great opportunity that will reflect positively for the team’s performances at regionals.“I always tell myself to compete like I do in practice,” Stone said. “I’m going to go out there and not let my nerves get to me, which I tend to do, have fun and trust my training. We’ve put in a lot of work this past few weeks.”Huang agrees that with all the practice the team has done this season, the Buckeyes have the potential to pull a strong final score at regionals on Saturday.“My thing is, I tell myself, to believe in yourself,” Huang said. “You’ve done hundreds of numbers in the gym to this point, so trust your training. It’s your time to shine.” read more