Andy Murray will leave the Australian Open early if his wife goes into labour prematurely.Kim Sears isn’t expecting until mid-February, but Murray told the Daily Mail newspaper that he’s prepared to withdraw from the first major of the year if she goes into labour early.”I’d go home. For sure, yes,” Murray said in yesterday’s edition. “I want to make sure at the beginning I am there as much as I can be to try and help out, just be there for whatever is really required of me.”The Australian Open, where Murray has reached the final four times but never won, runs from January 18-31.Regardless of his result, Murray said he’s taking off all of February and won’t play again until the first round of the Davis Cup in early March at home against Japan. Britain will be defending the trophy that Murray led them to last month.The second-ranked Murray said he is looking forward to becoming a father.”I am excited about that,” he said. “People have asked me, ‘Do you think it will be a distraction?’ It might be a distraction, but it’s a good distraction.”It’s actually not good to all the time be just concentrating on tennis and your training all of the time. It is important … when you finish on the practice court, be able to just go away and be with your friends and your family.”Murray also reunited with coach Amelie Mauresmo and her first child Aaron in Dubai this week. Mauresmo gave birth in August and Murray hadn’t seen her since Wimbledon in July.”I really enjoy working with her,” he said. “The last six months not seeing her, it’s just nice to have her back as part of the team, and get that continuity going again.”
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that 10 land trusts, three counties, one township and nine Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funding to help preserve farmland across the state. These organizations will receive allocations from the Clean Ohio Fund to select, close and monitor easements under the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).LAEPP sponsor organizations will accept applications from Ohio landowners interested in selling an agricultural easement on their farms. A total of $6,301,351 will be made available in this funding round. Local sponsors have been certified to accept applications in 57 counties. Interested landowners should contact the certified local sponsor in their county for application details.The program allows landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state of Ohio. The easement requires the farm remain permanently in agriculture production. Selected farms must be 40 acres or more, actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have the support of their local government and not lay directly in the path of development. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operations.Funding for the program is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008. When combined with easements from all programs, 354 family farms in 54 counties have collectively preserved more than 59,000 acres in agricultural production.For more information on Ohio’s farmland preservation effort visit: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/.
Simulations: climate change to accelerateWigley’s computer simulations indicate that a worldwide, partial shift from coal to natural gas would slightly accelerate climate change through at least 2050, even if no methane leaked from natural gas operations, and through as late as 2140 if there were substantial leaks. After that, the greater reliance on natural gas would begin to slow down the increase in global average temperature, but only by a few tenths of a degree.“Relying more on natural gas would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, but it would do little to help solve the climate problem,” says Wigley, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “It would be many decades before it would slow down global warming at all, and even then it would just be making a difference around the edges.” Switching to natural gas won’t slow climate changeNext month, new peer-reviewed research is being published that will conclude that although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change. The study by Tom Wigley, who is a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, examines how coal use causes warming through emission of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but also releases comparatively large amounts of sulfates and other particles. Those particles, while causing acid rain and other environmental problems, help to cool the planet by blocking incoming sunlight.The situation is further complicated by uncertainty over the amount of methane that leaks from natural gas operations. Methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas. Submetering of major energy systemsSouth Mountain installed equipment to allow submetering of all the major energy systems in the homes, providing an unprecedented window into exactly how the families use energy. A report by South Mountain engineer Marc Rosenbaum highlights key insights from this experiment — among them the importance of collecting data monthly.Though variations from the estimated energy use will be greater on a monthly basis than on an annual basis, it allows users to catch meaningful anomalies more quickly. In the case of one family, the data helped reveal that a child had turned off an exterior AC disconnect from the PV system during the first month, allowing that family to generate only 279 kWh instead of the 630 kWh that the other seven homes averaged. Saturday found me helping a friend install new batteries for another friend’s off-the-grid solar power system. We had fun getting the system back up and running and watching the solar-powered watts come in on a beautiful September day.At one point my friend asked me to use his multimeter to read the voltage of the batteries. No problem: I put the two testing probes in place on the batteries and got the desired reading. He then asked me to reverse the probes to see if the reading also reversed, as expected.However, I switched the probes back and forth several times — or at least, I thought I did — while the reading unexpectedly remained the same. After a minute he said, “Wait, you’re just moving your hands back and forth between the probes — you’re not actually moving the probes.” He was right, and we had a good laugh about that. Some changes make a real difference, and some changes amount to nothing more than hand-waving. Eight net-zero-ready homes, eight familiesIn the category of changes that actually make a difference, eight families on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts recently were able to demonstrate how important energy conservation is in reducing our need for carbon.As reported in the Environmental Building News article Want a Net-Zero Home? Be a Net-Zero Family, the families moved into nearly identical, superinsulated homes last June. South Mountain Company designed and built the LEED Platinum homes for the Island Housing Trust with the goal of allowing the residents to operate them at net-zero energy, using the 5 kW photovoltaic arrays on the roofs for power. In case the energy cost savings didn’t provide enough incentive, South Mountain offered a reward to any household that came in at net-zero energy for the first year. Two families achieved this goal, and won their choice of a $400 dollar gift certificate at a local fish market or a one-year membership at the local CSA. Two families operate at net-zero or belowIn a testament to the efficient construction, water-heating energy use exceeded space-heating energy use in all but one of the homes. Rosenbaum suggests that a good further investment would be for solar hot water or heat-pump water heaters. The submetering also showed that the biggest loads were the two uses of electric resistance heat: the radiant ceiling panels and the water heaters.In the end, two families were able to operate below net-zero energy, while two others were close. On the other end of the spectrum, one family used a measured 11,635 kWh in one year, nearly twice the 6,873 kWh provided by the solar panels. In all cases, lights and plug loads accounted for about half of total energy use. With that in mind, the report quotes energy consultant Andy Shapiro: “There are no zero-energy houses, only zero-energy families.”Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.