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DocWatch
sustainability
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News stories about "sustainability," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?sustainability
Related Scary Tags:
renewable energy  ~ smart policy  ~ climate impacts  ~ technical cleverness  ~ efficiency increase  ~ technological innovation  ~ alternative energy  ~ economic myopia  ~ carbon emissions  ~ low-energy future  ~ food crisis  



Wed, Jan 27, 2016
from IEEE Spectrum:
NOAA Model Finds Renewable Energy Could be Deployed in the U.S. Without Storage
The majority of the United States's electricity needs could be met with renewable energy by 2030--without new advances in energy storage or cost increases. That's the finding of a new study conducted by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The key will be having sufficient transmission lines spanning the contiguous U.S., so that energy can be deployed from where it's generated to the places where its needed. Reporting their results today in Nature Climate Change, the researchers found that a combination of solar and wind energy, plus high-voltage direct current transmission lines that travel across the country, would reduce the electric sector's carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent compared to 1990 levels. ...


Alas, only rational humans will listen to the fruitless bleatings of scientists and engineers.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 20, 2015
from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
The most powerful abstract the Docs have ever read
Though recorded just previously, we read the abstract of the article "Human domination of the biosphere: Rapid discharge of the earth-space battery foretells the future of humankind" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and were astonished:

ABSTRACT: Earth is a chemical battery where, over evolutionary time with a trickle-charge of photosynthesis using solar energy, billions of tons of living biomass were stored in forests and other ecosystems and in vast reserves of fossil fuels. In just the last few hundred years, humans extracted exploitable energy from these living and fossilized biomass fuels to build the modern industrial-technological-informational economy, to grow our population to more than 7 billion, and to transform the biogeochemical cycles and biodiversity of the earth. This rapid discharge of the earth's store of organic energy fuels the human domination of the biosphere, including conversion of natural habitats to agricultural fields and the resulting loss of native species, emission of carbon dioxide, and the resulting climate and sea level change, and use of supplemental nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar energy sources. The laws of thermodynamics governing the trickle-charge and rapid discharge of the earth's battery are universal and absolute; the earth is only temporarily poised a quantifiable distance from the thermodynamic equilibrium of outer space. Although this distance from equilibrium is comprised of all energy types, most critical for humans is the store of living biomass. With the rapid depletion of this chemical energy, the earth is shifting back toward the inhospitable equilibrium of outer space with fundamental ramifications for the biosphere and humanity. Because there is no substitute or replacement energy for living biomass, the remaining distance from equilibrium that will be required to support human life is unknown. ...


The planet's resources might actually be finite?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 20, 2015
from UGA, via DesdemonaDespair:
Continued destruction of Earth's plant life places humankind in jeopardy, says UGA research
Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth's declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years," said the study's lead author, John Schramski, an associate professor in UGA's College of Engineering. "The sun's energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans are draining energy much faster than it can be replenished."... Scientists estimate that the Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass 2,000 years ago. Since that time, humans have reduced that amount by almost half. It is estimated that just over 10 percent of that biomass was destroyed in just the last century. "If we don't reverse this trend, we'll eventually reach a point where the biomass battery discharges to a level at which Earth can no longer sustain us," Schramski said.... "I call myself a realistic optimist," Schramski said. "I've gone through these numbers countless times looking for some kind of mitigating factor that suggests we're wrong, but I haven't found it." ...


The iHome battery only lasts how long?

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jul 11, 2015
from Grist:
This cleantech expert lays down the facts on solar and natural gas
... A materials scientist and professor of engineering at MIT, Trancik would rather help humanity beat the clock by speeding up the development of clean energy technologies and sounding the alarm when a technology looks like it isn't going to scale effectively. In short, she's a cleantech efficiency expert. Whether it's solar cells, wind turbines, electric vehicles, natural gas biofuels, or that "miracle energy" your uncle emailed you about, Trancik wants to know: what materials does it require, how much do those materials cost, how much would we have to use the technology in order to meet emissions targets, how much would materials extraction and refinement have to go up accordingly, how much would that cost, and -- most importantly -- is this a smart or realistic path to go down? ...


Using science to inform policy: so crazy that it might just work!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 20, 2015
from Fast Company:
Portland's New Pipes Harvest Power From Drinking Water
If you live in Portland, your lights may now be partly powered by your drinking water. An ingenious new system captures energy as water flows through the city's pipes, creating hydropower without the negative environmental effects of something like a dam. Small turbines in the pipes spin in the flowing water, and send that energy into a generator. ...


Sometimes, you suddenly realize you're wearing the ruby slippers.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 15, 2014
from Marketplace:
Growing Styrofoam out of mushrooms
In a college dorm room, under a twin XL bed, a company was born. Ecovative, a biodesign company based in Albany, NY, began as a science project for Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer -- they grew oyster mushrooms under their beds, in the hopes of using them to recycle farm waste, and eventually, create an alternative to soft plastics, like Styrofoam. The experiment worked. Using the roots of mushrooms, Ecovative turns agricultural waste into packing materials, insulation, and even surfboards. Their products replace harmful, carcinogenic plastics found in Styrofoam and in furniture made from wood composite. Their products are all biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable. ...


And the 'shrooms shall inherit the earth.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 7, 2014
from Holland Sentinel:
GVSU's MAREC incubator develops commercial-scale solar technology
The company that developed a solar energy panel that addresses one of the major limitations of solar energy has developed a commercial-scale version at Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, according to an Aug. 6 news release. Solar24, introduced in October 2013 by MAREC incubator client Energy Partners, is a device that collects solar energy during daylight hours, storing it in a built-in, lithium-ion battery pack that allows it to discharge energy 24 hours a day, unlike traditional solar panels. ...


I can fix my bedtime smoothie!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 15, 2014
from IEA, via Grist:
End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion -- and preserve civilization as we know it
First, here's what might seem to be bad news from the new report: It would cost the world $44 trillion to end our fossil fuel addiction by 2050 and switch to clean energy. Worse, this figure is $8 trillion higher than the IEA's last estimate, published two years ago. Expected costs have risen because we've delayed the process of switching over to climate-friendly energy sources. And now the good news: We can save $115 trillion in fuel costs by 2050 if we move away from dirty energy, making for net savings of $71 trillion. ...


But that would disrupt the existing suicidal economic paradigm of growth at all costs!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 14, 2014
from Des Moines Register:
Rare partnership in Fairfield delivers veggies to kids
...there, tucked behind a nondescript factory, is a new greenhouse, sprouting spinach, radishes, pea shoots, greens and lettuce on a cold April day, thanks to its industrial partner next door. In a unique experiment, Swinton is growing veggies by tapping unused heat from her neighbor, Schaus-Vorhies Kleaning, a company that uses heat up to 1,600 degrees to clean and sometimes strengthen metals. Swinton said the greenhouse is the first of its kind in Iowa, possibly the nation, and could become a demonstration project for others wanting to bring more locally grown fruits and vegetables to U.S. schoolchildren, especially in cold-weather locations like Iowa. "It's pioneering. The concept of taking unused industrial heat for greenhouse production has been talked about, but few have developed it," said Matt Russell, a state food policy project coordinator at Drake University's Agricultural Law Center. ...


That house is green in more ways than one.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 9, 2014
from Nature:
Cheap battery stores energy for a rainy day
Power harvested from the Sun and wind is pouring into electricity grids by the gigawatt. That makes it ever more important to find an efficient and convenient way to store renewable energy for those times when the breeze dies or the skies cloud over. "Now we have a good chance of solving that problem," says Michael Aziz, a materials scientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His solution is a flow battery that packs a high energy density with no need for the expensive metals found in other models... The big advantage of flow batteries is that the chemicals can be stored in tanks outside the battery assembly. Increasing capacity is simply a matter of building larger tanks, making flow batteries particularly suitable for large-scale energy storage. ...


Goin' with the flow...

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Midwest might be prime real estate for airborne wind power
A weather phenomenon that's feared by conventional wind farm operators could make the Great Plains an ideal location to tether airborne wind turbines. Airborne wind turbines are a relatively new concept in which devices resembling blimps or gliders generate electricity as they are flown like kites in the lower atmosphere.... University of Delaware wind power researcher Cristina Archer ... recently mapped the presence of something called "wind speed maxima," strong currents of wind that resemble the jet stream but occur at much lower altitudes. "They are much more common than we thought before. We were so suprised," Archer said. Wind speed maxima exist above about a third of the planet, mostly in the tropics and largely over water. Archer's maps also show a large thumb extending over the Great Plains. ...


Some call it the Sky-O-Matic Slicer Dicer.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Massive solar plan for Minnesota wins bid over gas
Minnesota soon could see at least a sevenfold expansion of solar power. In an unprecedented ruling, a judge reviewing whether Xcel Energy should invest in new natural gas generators vs. large solar power arrays concluded Tuesday that solar is a better deal. ...


Land of 10,000 Suns

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 7, 2013
from Stanford University:
The world can be powered by alternative energy, using today's technology, in 20-40 years, says Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson
A new study - co-authored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and UC-Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi - analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen.... The world they envision would run largely on electricity. Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90 percent of the needed energy. Geothermal and hydroelectric sources would each contribute about 4 percent in their plan (70 percent of the hydroelectric is already in place), with the remaining 2 percent from wave and tidal power. ...


But if Exxon loses market share, won't that mean we won't have jobs or an economy ever again?

ApocaDoc
permalink


Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Wed, Oct 16, 2013
from New York Times:
How to Feed the World
"Feeding the world" might as well be a marketing slogan for Big Ag, a euphemism for "Let's ramp up sales," as if producing more cars would guarantee that everyone had one. But if it worked that way, surely the rate of hunger in the United States would not be the highest percentage of any developed nation, a rate closer to that of Indonesia than of Britain.... While a billion people are hungry, about three billion people are not eating well, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, if you count obese and overweight people alongside those with micronutrient deficiencies. Paradoxically, as increasing numbers of people can afford to eat well, food for the poor will become scarcer, because demand for animal products will surge, and they require more resources like grain to produce.... Let's at last recognize that there are two food systems, one industrial and one of small landholders, or peasants if you prefer. The peasant system is not only here for good, it's arguably more efficient than the industrial model. According to the ETC Group, a research and advocacy organization based in Ottawa, the industrial food chain uses 70 percent of agricultural resources to provide 30 percent of the world's food, whereas what ETC calls "the peasant food web" produces the remaining 70 percent using only 30 percent of the resources. ...


Peasants of the world, unite!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from University of California - Santa Cruz :
New Device Harnesses Sun and Sewage to Produce Hydrogen Fuel
A novel device that uses only sunlight and wastewater to produce hydrogen gas could provide a sustainable energy source while improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment. ...


ntr wsts nthng

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 26, 2013
from Treehugger:
Dutch wind turbine crowdfunded in just 13 hours
In what is being claimed as a "new world record for crowdfunding", all 6,648 shares of electricity from a Vestas wind turbine were sold to 1700 Dutch householders at €200 per share, raising about 1.3 million Euros in just 13 hours. Windcentrale, a Dutch company specializing in cooperative wind turbine purchases, put together the deal, which will net each share about 500 kWh of clean electricity per year.... ...


I think I'll try that crowdfunding thang for my next frackin' rig.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 10, 2013
from CleanTechnica:
Army Adds Wind Power To $7 Billion Renewable Energy Buy
The US Army Corps of Engineers has just announced that it has awarded contracts to 17 private companies to build wind turbines on Department of Defense facilities around the country. It's the third in a series of four groups of renewable energy contracts for DoD that will eventually total $7 billion. Given the military's avid pursuit of a more diversified fuel mix, it looks like certain members of Congress better get off the "drill, baby, drill" train once and for all if they really do support our troops. ...


Turn, baby, turn!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 6, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
In unlikely alliance, Wisconsin Libertarians back solar plan
A group of conservative Tea Party activists in Atlanta turned heads this summer when they announced a partnership with the local Sierra Club chapter to help pressure Georgia's largest electric utility to boost its investment in solar power. Six weeks later, solar power picked up another unexpected supporter in Wisconsin, where on Aug. 20 the state's Libertarian Party endorsed a clean energy group's proposal to let customers lease solar panels and other small renewable generators. ...


Who says there's nothing new under the sun?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Washington Post:
Ohio State calls a new play for football: the compost route
With thousands of fans roaring above them, the Ohio State University Buckeyes burst into Ohio Stadium on Saturday to start their latest quest for a No. 1 college football ranking and a national championship. But high in the scarlet and gray bleachers that hold up to 105,000 people, Buckeye fans were asked to play a role in another goal this season: eliminating garbage. High school students manned Zero Waste stations, showing fans where to stick trash that can be composted and recycled, and where to put the rest. ...


I've got some ideas on where to stick it.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 20, 2013
from USA Today:
The USA is getting its goats
Cities, residents and even airports are bringing in herds to clear overgrown parcels of land as an alternative to using chemicals... Goats have been used to clear brush worldwide for centuries, but they're now "catching on" in the eastern USA as a sustainable method to clear land, and more companies are deploying the animals, says Brian Knox, president of Sustainable Resource Management, which focuses on the protection and management of natural resources. ...


Sounds like a bezoar goldmine.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 13, 2013
from Quartz:
Bureaucrats, not Big Oil, stand in the way of the solar future
...US solar prices are high compared to those in other countries. An installed solar system in Germany, for instance, cost half the US price in 2012, while one in Australia was 41 percent cheaper. Given that all these countries get most of their solar panels from the same source -- China -- the differences in price mainly come down to so-called "soft" costs such as labor, installation, and the time and money it takes to secure permits. Such costs can account for more than half the price of a solar system. ...


It's time to get hard on the soft.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 7, 2013
from Des Moines Register:
Wind leads energy growth
Iowa is among several states now getting more than 20 percent of its power from wind, a key reason wind energy was the fastest-growing power-generation sector for the first time in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. Wind accounted for 43 percent of all new electricity generation last year, after a $25 billion run of new projects, the department reported....The country's wind energy capacity now is 22 times what it was in 2000. ...


You are the wind beneath my wings.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 6, 2013
from Sioux City Journal:
Solar power gains ground in Iowa
Solar power is gaining ground around the world at "record pace," and a growing number of Iowans are also looking to convert their homes and businesses to the alternative energy, according to Bill Haman, industrial program manager for the Iowa Energy Center. ...


All I can say about this is shipoopi.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 1, 2013
from Bloomberg:
Harvard Endowment Hires Environment Head Amid Divestment Demands
Harvard University hired Jameela Pedicini as vice president for sustainable investing, a position created in the wake of student activist calls for the world's richest school to purge its holdings of fossil-fuel companies. Pedicini, who most recently was the investment officer for global governance at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, will work for Harvard Management Co., the university-controlled investment arm that oversees more than $30 billion of assets. ... In the last year, students at hundreds of campuses, including the eight Ivy League schools, have joined a fossil-fuel divestment movement led by activist group 350.org. They are demanding that schools purge their endowments of investments in 200 publicly traded companies with the largest reserves of oil, gas and coal in recognition of their contribution to climate change. ...


Boy, those college kids are smart!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 30, 2013
from The National:
Renewable power to eclipse natural gas within 3 years, says IEA
Clean power is set to eclipse gas-generated electricity by 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast in a report that challenges conventional knowledge about economic hurdles to renewables.... The number of gigawatts generated by hydro, solar, wind and other renewables is set to increase by 40 per cent in the coming five years, making them the fastest-growing segment in the global energy mix. "As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation," Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA, said at a presentation in New York.... “And worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels remain six times higher than economic incentives for renewables.” ...


That's why I say "let's frack this afternoon whatever we can sell to investors this morning." Time's a-wastin'!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 24, 2013
from Scientific American:
The Colorado Is Pronounced America's Most Endangered Waterway
The river that carved the Grand Canyon and supplies 36 million Americans with drinking water is in trouble, according to American Rivers... "The Colorado River...is so over-tapped that it dries up to a trickle before reaching the sea." Indeed, 36 million of us drink water from the Colorado. The river responsible for cutting the Grand Canyon irrigates nearly four million acres of farmland where some 15 percent of the nation's crops are grown. But according to American Rivers, over-allocation and drought have placed significant stress on water supplies and river health--and another summer drought is on the way. A 2013 study by the federal Bureau of Reclamation finds that there isn't enough water in the Colorado to meet current demands and that the flow will be as much as 30 percent less by 2050 due to climate change. That reduced flow threatens not only endangered fish and wildlife but also the river system's $26 billion recreation economy. ...


By the time it reaches the ocean, it's just the C. crick.

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from AFP-RelaxNews:
Smog-eating pavement on greenest street in America
The big rigs rattling past smokestacks sure don't make this Chicago roadway look like the greenest street in America. But their tires roll over smog-eating pavement, the streetlights run on solar and wind power, the sidewalks were made with recycled concrete, and shrub-filled "bioswales" keep storm water out of overtaxed sewers. ...


If only the Cubs would win.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 14, 2013
from New York Times:
Solar Trade Group Reports Surge in U.S. Installations
Partly driven by an oversupply of cheaper panels from China, the domestic solar market had its best year in 2012, with the growth in installations outpacing that of the global market, according to an annual report to be released Thursday. The report, from the Solar Energy Industries Association, the industry's main trade group, and GTM Research, a renewable energy consulting firm, found that the amount of new solar electric capacity increased last year by 76 percent from 2011, raising the United States' market share of the world's installations above 10 percent, up from roughly 5 to 7 percent in the last seven years. ...


Let the sunshine in ...

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 28, 2013
from Columbus Dispatch:
OSU to save $1 million a year by buying wind power
Ohio State University expects to save nearly $1 million on its energy bill this year with the help of more than 100 spinning wind turbines in northwestern Ohio. Ohio State signed a 20-year agreement in October to buy 50 megawatts of energy annually from Blue Creek Wind Farm, Ohio's largest commercial wind farm, which has 152 turbines in Van Wert and Paulding counties. ...


It's as if this academic institution has smart people.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from The Daily Climate:
Sustainable development efforts mostly fail, research finds
World leaders have so far failed to raise people out of poverty by economic development while at the same time avoiding the worst effects of climate change, Swedish researchers say. A study of 134 countries published by TCO, a confederation of 15 Swedish trade unions, shows that sustainable development is not yet close to being achieved, despite it being the stated aim of many politicians. Yet it remains the official policy of the United Nations, the aim of climate negotiations, Earth summits and many international economic forums. The theory is that countries can develop and at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emissions by combining energy efficiency and the greater use of renewable sources of power. About 40 countries have managed to do this, but the vast majority have not - and among those that have failed, the study says, are the fastest-growing economies and the most polluting: China, the US and India. ...


The only thing sustained is their empty promises.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 7, 2013
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Green-power, low-energy users get brunt of utility rate increase
The sting of the We Energies rate increase that just went into effect will hurt most for those who use less energy and those who buy green power ... a We Energies customer who uses about half as much power as a typical customer will see bills jump by nearly 7 percent, whereas residential bills overall will rise by 5.6 percent, to about $90 a month. Meanwhile, the premium paid by We Energies' green-power customers went up 74 percent, according to the PSC. That means an average customer who's paying extra for green power will pay more than $104 a month for electricity, an increase of more than 11 percent from last year. ...


No good deed goes unpunished.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from Inter Press Service:
Bicycles No Longer Mere Recreation in Argentine Capital
A programme launched in Buenos Aires three years ago to encourage the use of bicycles has already brought results: the use of this environment-friendly means of transport has increased fivefold in the Argentine capital. ...


Good for the air, too.

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Tue, Dec 11, 2012
from University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College:
Wind and Solar Power Paired With Storage Could Power Grid 99.9 Percent of the Time
Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today's electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College. A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found. ...


Things are looking up in more ways than one!

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Mon, Nov 19, 2012
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Little fish in a big pond save power - and the planet
EVEN as a kid taking a dip in a friend's swimming pool, Derek Spielman would think about how it would be much better if it was full of turtles. Now his own backyard swimming pool is one of 50 on Sydney's north shore that have been turned into ponds, saving thousands of dollars on power and water bills. There are no turtles, but Dr Spielman's pool at his home in Gordon is swarming with native fish, such as empire and spotted gudgeons and Pacific blue eye. It's noisy with a chorus of frogs and full of water lilies and other aquatic plants, attracting native birds, dragonflies and bees.... ...


Pools are cool but I'd rather bond with a pond.

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Tue, Nov 13, 2012
from American Technion Society :
New Way to Split Water Molecules Into Hydrogen and Oxygen: Breakthrough for Solar Energy Conversion and Storage?
Using the power of the sun and ultrathin films of iron oxide (commonly known as rust), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have found a novel way to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough, published this week in Nature Materials, could lead to less expensive, more efficient ways to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels. This could be a major step forward in the development of viable replacements for fossil fuels....these cells could store solar energy for on demand use, 24 hours per day. This is in strong contrast to conventional photovoltaic cells, which provide power only when the sun is shining (and not at night or when it is cloudy). ...


I've heard it said rust never sleeps.

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Tue, Nov 6, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
California's first auction of greenhouse-gas credits nears
After six years of preparation, California is poised to become the first state to combat global warming by capping greenhouse gas emissions and making major polluters pay to release more of these gases into the atmosphere. It's part of a landmark law approved in 2006 that seeks to cut the state's production of carbon dioxide, methane and related gases to 1990 levels -- about 17 percent lower than current amounts -- by 2020. Starting next week, big polluters will be required to buy pollution credits if they plan to emit greenhouse gases above their allotted levels. ...


Let's all live on Planet California.

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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Reuters:
Unprecedented world carbon emissions cuts needed by 2050: PwC
The world will have to cut the rate of carbon emissions by an unprecedented rate to 2050 to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees this century, a report released by PwC on Monday showed.... Global temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Almost 200 nations agreed in 2010 at United Nations climate talks to limit the rise to below 2 degrees C (3.6 Fahrenheit) to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change. Carbon intensity will have to be cut by over 5 percent a year to achieve that goal, the study said. That compares with an annual rate of 0.8 percent from 2000 to 2011. ...


Guess we better get in gear.

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Mon, Oct 22, 2012
from Reuters:
U.S. wind industry adding record number of turbines
...The U.S. wind industry in August for the first time surpassed 50,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity - enough to power 13 million homes, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in a report issued on Thursday ... But the federal production tax credit for renewable energy is due to expire at the year-end. The group said the credit, which has been continuously in place since 2005, helps create more than $15 billion a year in investment in U.S. wind farms. ...


If it expires... then so do we.

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Tue, Oct 16, 2012
from National Wildlife Federation:
Fact Check: Department of Energy --Still Helping Create Winners Nationwide
Let's just be clear, as we head into the next round of Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, the Department of Energy's investments in clean energy have been extremely successful. A recent fact-checking analysis found that DOE's projects had a 98 percent success rate. That means about 14,700+ successes out of 15,000+ projects. ...


I don't care what you say. It's my American right to bitch about Solyndra!

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Mon, Oct 15, 2012
from Wall Street Journal:
The Future of Agriculture May Be Up
Want to see where your food might come from in the future? Look up. The seeds of an agricultural revolution are taking root in cities around the world -- a movement that boosters say will change the way that urbanites get their produce and solve some of the world's biggest environmental problems along the way. It's called vertical farming, and it's based on one simple principle: Instead of trucking food from farms into cities, grow it as close to home as possible -- in urban greenhouses that stretch upward instead of sprawling outward. ...


Only problem is you have to lay down flat to eat.

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Mon, Oct 15, 2012
from WorldWatch Institute:
Continued Growth in Renewable Energy Investments
Emerging from the global economic recession, investments in renewable energy technologies continued their steady rise in 2011. Total new investments in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydropower and solar hot water) jumped 17 percentâ€"reaching $257 billion, up from $220 billion in 2010. In a year marked by falling costs for renewable energy technologies, net investment in renewable power capacity was $40 billion greater than investment in fossil fuel capacity. (Through the first half of 2012, however, total investment fell behind the impressive pace set the previous year, attracting slightly under $108 billion compared with nearly $125 billion in the first half of 2011.) ...


My hope in humanity has been renewed.

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Sat, Oct 13, 2012
from Scientific American:
State of the Earth: Still Seeking Plan A for Sustainability
The state of the planet is grim, whether that assessment is undertaken from the perspective of economic development, social justice or the global environment. What's known as sustainable development--a bid to capture all three of those efforts in one effort and phrase--has hardly advanced since it was first used in the 1980s and the world is hardly closer to eradicating extreme poverty, respecting the dignity and rights of all peoples or resolving environmental challenges, whether climate change or the extinction of plants and animals.... "We've only felt half the warming from the gases already added to the atmosphere," thanks to the long lag time in warming the oceans, a process also already well under way. As a result, the world can expect at least as much warming of average global temperatures as has already happened--0.8 degree Celsius--even if all greenhouse gas emissions stopped today. ...


At least there's something I can do.

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Churches deliver a jolt of energy to Michigan renewables measure
DETROIT -- A renewable energy initiative on Michigan's ballot is finding support in an unlikely place -- churches. "As a pastor, I look at the call in the first book of Genesis, to care for the Earth, and to the gospels' call to love thy neighbor," said the Rev. Terry Gallagher, a pastor at Sacred Conversation in Trenton, Mich. "If we don't change energy paths, we're dooming the future of the Earth." The Renewable Energy Amendment would mandate that Michigan get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025. The proposal was filed by Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs, a coalition of state businesses, labor organizations and health care advocates. The amendment has drawn national attention because it would make Michigan the first state to have a renewable energy standard in its constitution. Now some churches in the state have lent their support. ...


Thank God somebody cares...

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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Dallas Morning News:
McKinney scales back green initiatives, disbands environmental office
The city of McKinney logo signals a municipal interest in the environment -- it features a green tree and the slogan "Unique by nature.” But this year that interest has come under greater scrutiny. Council members and city staff have re-evaluated how much money and effort should be spent on sustainability efforts. And residents have flooded the council with emails questioning the motives behind green initiatives, bike lanes and sustainability plans. Now, amid pressure from some outspoken groups, the city is scaling back its environmental programs. The city's three-person Office of Environmental Stewardship has been disbanded, with the one remaining employee moving to the public works department. The City Council has scrapped the idea of implementing a sustainability master plan. And city staff is scaling back its effort to win environmental or conservation grants ...


We can't afford to save our lives?

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Mon, Oct 8, 2012
from Sioux Falls Argus Leader:
Wind propels more than energy in S.D.
Wind energy projects have provided a significant economic boost to counties in wind-rich states such as South Dakota, according to a new federal study. Researchers at the USDA Economic Research Service, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examined economic data from 1,009 counties in 12 states with high wind-resource potential -- Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico. Controlling for other factors, their analysis found that each megawatt of installed wind power led to an additional $11,000 in personal income and 0.5 jobs per county during the time period studied. ...


(singing) The answer my friend... is...

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from Federal Trade Commission:
FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides"
The Federal Trade Commission issued revised "Green Guides"ť that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive... Revisions to Previous Guidance. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is "environmentally friendly" or "eco-friendly" because the FTC's consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate. ...


My gratitude is non-toxic, was generated by renewable energy and shall biodegrade within one week.

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from Reuters:
Swift action needed to save world's declining fisheries-study
Swift action is required to save many of the world's fisheries that are declining faster than expected, a study in a leading scientific journal shows ... "Small-scale unassessed fisheries are in substantially worse shape than was previously thought," Christopher Costello, lead author of the study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told a telephone news conference. "The good news here is that it's not too late," he said. "These fisheries can rebound. But the longer we wait, the harder and more costly it will be ... In another ten years, the window of opportunity may have closed." ...


You might say fisheries are floundering.

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Mon, Sep 10, 2012
from Carnegie Institution:
Enough Wind to Power Global Energy Demand: New Research Examines Limits, Climate Consequences
There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world's demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. New research from Carnegie's Ken Caldeira examines the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole... Today, civilization uses about 18 TW of power. Near-surface winds could provide more than 20 times today's global power demand and wind turbines on kites could potentially capture 100 times the current global power demand. ...


Why don't we throw a couple solar panels on these kites while we're at it.

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from New Scientist, via Paul Smedberg:
Nanocrystalline Cellulose (NCC): Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material
Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.... So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap. "It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.... "Anyone who makes a car or a plastic bag will want to get in on this," he says. In addition, the human body can deal with cellulose safely, says Jones, so NCC is less dangerous to process than inorganic composites. "The worst thing that could happen is a paper cut," he says. ...


Uh-oh. Paradigm shift ahead!

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Mon, Aug 6, 2012
from GOOD:
Cycle on the Recycled: A $9 Cardboard Bike Set to Enter Production in Israel
The last time you purchased something made entirely from cardboard, chances are it was a box to pack up your belongings. While the sturdy material is perfect for moving your stuff, an inventor from Israel has figured out a way to make cardboard move you. Using nine dollars worth of materials, bicycle enthusiast Izhar Gafni has created a fully functioning, water-resistant bicycle, made, from seat to spokes, entirely of recycled cardboard... The all cardboard bike is shockingly durable: it can carry riders who weigh up to 485 pounds. ...


What's next? A cardboard car?

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Tue, Jul 24, 2012
from New York Times:
Browsing in Copenhagen's "Bicycle Library"
If you're visiting Copenhagen, chances are you can rent a bicycle from your hotel. Or you can head down to the Bicycle Innovation Lab, home to the city's new "bicycle library." There, once you have put down a 500-krone ($80) returnable deposit, you can check out any of the bikes on hand and ride around for a few days. (You can also book online.) ...


But don't you dare write your name on it!

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Wed, Jun 20, 2012
from apocadocs.com:
The ApocaDocs take a holiday
Jim and Michael are refreshing themselves during the last half of June. It's been 4.5 years since both of us simultaneously took a break from our self-appointed task of documenting and be-quipping humanity's death spiral. Jim will be on an island, Michael will be on a boat, and both of us will be with our families. We'll come back refreshed and with new ideas. Is the time ripe for an ApocaDocs app? Should we update our book? If you have good ideas, send 'em to apocadocs AT gmail. And do come back July 1, won't you? Happy vacation! ...


TGIV!

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Tue, May 15, 2012
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
The world is not enough: soon we'll need three planet Earths
HUMANS are using so many resources that by 2030 even an extra planet will not be enough to sustain our demands, a report has warned. Green group the WWF concludes in its Living Planet Report 2012 that mankind is already living as though we have one and a half planets at our disposal. By 2030 even having two planets at our disposal will not be enough and if lifestyles do not change, by 2050 we would need almost three. ...


I'm seeing two planets right now!

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Sat, Apr 28, 2012
from Discover Magazine:
The Limits to Environmentalism
[Environmentalism is] still anti-nuclear, anti-technology, anti-industrial civilization. It still talks in mushy metaphors from the Aquarius age, cooing over Mother Earth and the Balance of Nature. And most of all, environmentalists are still acting like Old Testament prophets, warning of a plague of environmental ills about to rain down on humanity. ... No, I'm not talking about the UK's just-published Royal Society report, which, among other things, recommends that developed countries put a brake on economic growth. I'm talking about that other landmark report from 1972, the one that became a totem of the environmental movement. I mention the 40-year old Limits to Growth book in connection with the new Royal Society report not just to point up their Malthusian similarities (which Mark Lynas flags here), but also to demonstrate what a time warp the collective environmental mindset is stuck in. Even some British greens have recoiled in disgust at the outdated assumptions underlying the Royal Society's report. Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, told the Guardian: "What an astonishingly weak, cliche ridden report this is... 'Consumption' to blame for all our problems? Growth is evil? A rich economy with technological advances is needed for radical decarbonisation. I do wish scientists would stop using their hatred of capitalism as an argument for cutting consumption."... "Pro-technology, pro-city, pro-growth, the green modernist has emerged in recent years to advance an alternative vision for the future. His mission is to remake environmentalism: Strip it of outdated mythologies and dogmas, make it less apocalyptic and more optimistic, broaden its constituency. In this vision, the Anthropocene is not something to rail against, but to embrace. It is about welcoming that world, not dreading it. It is about creating a future that environmentalists will help shape for the better." ...


Oh good. I can again believe in continuous and endless growth, since those greenies are old-fashioned, and can be derided.

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Wed, Apr 25, 2012
from Michigan Technical University, via EurekAlert:
Graphene boosts efficiency of next-gen solar cells
The coolest new nanomaterial of the 21st century could boost the efficiency of the next generation of solar panels, a team of Michigan Technological University materials scientists has discovered. Graphene, a two-dimensional honeycomb of carbon atoms, is a rising star in the materials community for its radical properties.... In dye-sensitized solar cells, photons knock electrons from the dye into a thin layer of titanium dioxide, which relays them to the anode. Hu's group found that adding graphene to the titanium dioxide increased its conductivity, bringing 52.4 percent more current into the circuit.... The team also developed a comparably foolproof method for creating sheets of titanium dioxide embedded with graphene. It first made graphite oxide powder, then mixed it with titanium dioxide to form a paste, spread it on a substrate (such as glass) and then baked it a high temperatures. "It's low-cost and very easy to prepare," said Hu. ...


What say we start ramping up solar, while we still have a civilization to do it?

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Fri, Apr 13, 2012
from ScienceDaily:
Artificial Photosynthesis Breakthrough: Fast Molecular Catalyzer
Researchers from the Department of Chemistry at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, have managed to construct a molecular catalyzer that can oxidize water to oxygen very rapidly. In fact, these KTH scientists are the first to reach speeds approximating those is nature's own photosynthesis. The research findings play a critical role for the future use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources.... The speed with which natural photosynthesis occurs is about 100 to 400 turnovers per seconds. The KTH have now reached over 300 turnovers per seconds with their artificial photosynthesis.... "I'm convinced that it will be possible in ten years to produce technology based on this type of research that is sufficiently cheap to compete with carbon-based fuels. This explains why Barack Obama is investing billions of dollars in this type of research," says Licheng Sun. ...


Replacing Mother Nature is just around the corner.

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Thu, Mar 29, 2012
from RTCC:
SEI: Scarcity of metals could hamper low-carbon development
The world's transition to a low-carbon economy could be seriously hampered by a scarcity of key metals, a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has warned. The study, produced in partnership with the business leaders' initiative 3C (Combat Climate Change), analysed known resources and locations of five metals -- indium, tellurium, neodymium, lithium and cobalt. These are vital raw materials for wind turbines, solar panels and hybrid and electric cars. The SEI says production could be affected in the future if business and policy-makers fail to create a framework for their use now. Demand for thees resources is huge. Globally installed wind capacity soared from 24,322 megawatts in 2001 to nearly 240,000 megawatts in 2011. Last year was a record year with 42,000 megawatts installed. ...


All we need to do is... plan ahead!

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from Washington Post:
Solar industry faces subsidy cuts in Europe
Hanover, Germany -- Shiny black solar panels are as common a sight as baroque church spires in this industrial hub, thanks to government subsidies that have helped make Germany a world leader in solar technology. Now, sudden subsidy cuts here and elsewhere in Europe have thrown the industry into crisis just short of its ultimate goal: a price to generate solar energy that is no higher than fossil-fuel counterparts. Across Europe, governments are slashing public spending to cut their deficits, and green-energy subsidies are a target, too... ...


Apparently, these people have never heard of the future.

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012
from London Guardian:
Windfarms axed as UK loses its taste for turbines
The government and energy industry have quietly shelved plans for windfarms equivalent to four large traditional coal and nuclear power stations, amid growing public and political anger over the cost and sight of the turbines. ...


Thank goodness the Apocalypse will be aesthetically pleasing.

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Mon, Feb 20, 2012
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Solar, wind get strong support in Midwestern poll
Most people in four Midwestern states would pay slightly higher utility bills to boost clean energy and energy efficiency, a poll has found. The survey of 1,600 voters Jan. 9-15 found that 51 percent of people in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio were willing to pay up to $6 more per month on electric bills for energy conservation efforts and clean power sources like wind and solar. ...


Pinko-eco-commies.

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Mon, Jan 30, 2012
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Sea cucumbers may save Great Barrier Reef
Tropical sea cucumbers and their faeces could save coral reefs from the harmful impacts of climate change, scientists have found. Scientists at One Tree Island, the University of Sydney's research station on the Great Barrier Reef, say sea cucumbers reduce the impact of ocean acidification on coral growth. "When they ingest sand, the natural digestive processes in the sea cucumber's gut increases the pH levels of the water on the reef where they defecate," Tree Island director professor Maria Byrne said.... "The research at One Tree Island showed that, in a healthy reef, dissolution of calcium carbonate sediment by sea cucumbers and other bioeroders appears to be an important component of the natural calcium carbonate turnover." The ammonia waste produced when sea cucumbers digest sand also serves to fertilise the surrounding area, providing nutrients for coral growth. Sea cucumbers are among the largest invertebrates found on tropical reefs. About 30 species are commercially harvested by the fishery industry along the Great Barrier Reef and throughout the tropics. ...


"Commercially harvested" somehow conflicts with "sustainability."

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Sat, Jan 14, 2012
from Grist:
Lexicon of Sustainability: Biodiversity vs. monoculture
Industrial agriculture = monoculture. Small farms = biodiversity. Small, organic farms like Rick Knoll's are able to eliminate their reliance on petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides. The results are fewer pollutants, less environmental degradation, and cleaner air. And by using cover cropping and other soil fertilization principles they are able to sequester carbon and keep topsoil -- which is carbon heavy -- from being lost into the atmosphere (the latter also contributes to climate change). ...


Next you'll be telling me this approach is sustainable, for, like, years.

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Wed, Jan 4, 2012
from Website:
The Institute for Collapsonomics
collapsonomics, n. 1. The study of economic and state systems at the edge of their normal social and economic function, including preventative measures to avoid destructive feedback loops and vicious cycles. 2. A consulting practice based on the scientific and historical understanding of collapse conditions, and responses to them. It seems we need a term for big, obvious threats that are sure to emerge - think asteroid impacts - but which few want to face. Handily, students of "collapsonomics" have already coined one: "black elephants." (New Scientist) ...


I'm doubting that 'Collapsonomics' is coming out of the Chicago School.

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Wed, Dec 28, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Forget the Prius. The Future Of Electric Is the School Bus
As long as Americans love to drive far and fast, electric cars may never be the perfect answer to the country's green transportation needs. But the routine runs of electric school buses are another thing altogether. Bus maker Trans Tech Bus this year said it would start making an electric school bus in a partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles. The eTrans bus is one of a new generation of zero-emission electric and hybrid-electric models that are slowly making their way to school districts around the county. ...


If only the children were electric, too.

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Mon, Dec 19, 2011
from University of Texas at Austin:
Discovery of a 'Dark State' Could Mean a Brighter Future for Solar Energy
The efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased, according to new research on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin. Zhu and his team have discovered that it's possible to double the number of electrons harvested from one photon of sunlight using an organic plastic semiconductor material...Zhu and his team ... discovered that a photon produces a dark quantum "shadow state" from which two electrons can then be efficiently captured to generate more energy in the semiconductor pentacene. ...


I will kid you not, an encouraging development, this is.

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Mon, Dec 19, 2011
from Governing:
Red States, Green Jobs
... The green economy already employs 2.7 million workers nationwide, half a million more jobs than the so-called fossil fuel economy. More surprising still, the region with the most green jobs is the South. "It turns out that the largely 'red' South is surprisingly green, at least when it comes to the production side of the clean economy," observes Mark Muro, a senior fellow and one of the authors of a recent report on green jobs by the Brookings Institution and Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice. He notes that of the 21 states with at least 40,000 clean economy jobs, seven are in the South. The South's emergence as a green jobs powerhouse raises several questions. One is about the necessity of policies, such as renewable energy portfolios and generous rebates that several states -- California, Colorado, New Jersey and New York, among them -- have long insisted are necessary to support the emergence of green tech companies. The other poses a serious challenge for Republican governors in states such as Tennessee: Many voters in Southern states are against federal stimulus programs, deeply suspicious of renewable energy and downright angry about the use of taxpayer dollars to create green jobs. ...


All this color confusion is making me feel orange.

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Wed, Dec 14, 2011
from London Guardian:
Cycle like the Danes to cut carbon emissions, says study
Europe could cut its transport greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 percent if every population cycled as regularly as the Danes, according to a pioneering study which tracks the environmental impact of cycling down to the extra calories consumed by riders. If the EU cycling rate was the same as it is in Denmark, where the average person cycles almost 600 miles (965km) each year, then the bloc would attain anything from 12 percent to 26 percent of its targeted transport emissions reduction, depending on what forms of transport the cycling replaced, according to the report by the Brussels-based European Cycling Federation (ECF). This figure is likely to be a significant underestimate as it deliberately excludes the environmental impact of building road infrastructure and parking, or maintaining and disposing of cars. ...


As long as I can text while I bike, I'm in!

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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from Yale Environment 300:
The New Story of Stuff: Can We Consume Less?
Will rich societies start consuming less? Could wealth go green? Might parsimony become the new luxury? Heresy, surely, you would say. But it might just be possible. Take Britain. A new study finds that the country that invented the industrial revolution two centuries ago reached "peak stuff" between 2001 and 2003. In the past decade, Britain has been consuming less water, building materials, paper, food (especially meat), cars, textiles, fertilizers and much else. Travel is down; so is energy production. The country produces less waste, too.... Even in the United States, the capital of consumption, there are signs that something similar could be afoot. American truck mileage has been on a plateau for a decade now. The number of cars on American highways is also flat. And per-capita mileage is falling. As a result, gasoline consumption is expected to be at a 10-year low this year, according to the Department of Energy. ...


Let's celebrate by driving around and buying a bunch of Christmas gifts!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Bloomberg News:
Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall
Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks. Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass attracted $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the most recent data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind power led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal. "The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable," United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. "You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis." The findings indicate the world is shifting toward consuming more renewable energy even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gases. ...


Durban be damned; leaders be let go; renewables rule!

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Thu, Nov 10, 2011
from BBC:
Nigeria's plastic bottle house
Hundreds of people - including government officials and traditional leaders - have been coming to see how the walls are built in the round architectural shape popular in northern Nigeria. The bottles, packed with sand, are placed on their side, one on top of the other and bound together with mud... Yahaya Ahmed of Nigeria's Development Association for Renewable Energies, estimates that a bottle house will cost one third of what a similar house made of concrete and bricks would cost. It is also more durable. "Compacted sand inside a bottle is nearly 20 times stronger than bricks," he says. "We are even intending to build a three-storey building." ...


I'll drink to that!

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Mon, Nov 7, 2011
from Bloomberg Businessweek:
The Greening of Death
...Cemeteries and funeral homes across the country have been offering eco-friendly death care, from biodegradable caskets to formaldehyde-free body preparation, for much of the past decade. But in recent years the green burial business has gotten bigger -- there are close to 300 funeral homes in 40 states offering green services in 2011, as opposed to roughly a dozen in 2008 -- and noticeably more eccentric. Just a few years ago a green funeral might have meant a pine or wicker coffin made without toxic materials. Today it could mean burying the dearly departed in an acorn-shaped urn made of recycled paper, erecting a tombstone with a solar-powered Serenity Panel that plays the deceased's favorite songs and videos, or casting out to sea a "reef ball" made of cement mixed with cremated ashes -- your loved one's and others'. ...


The greenest burial ... is to not be born at all.

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Wed, Nov 2, 2011
from Indiana University:
IU biologists identify light-regulated mechanism in cyanobacteria as aid to optimizing photosynthesis
Indiana University biologists have uncovered how a control system works in producing the important light-harvesting antennae that power photosynthesis in cyanobacteria, the microorganisms that are progenitors of all land plants and responsible for nearly half of the Earth's current oxygen production. Implications of fully comprehending the mechanism, called "light-regulated transcription attenuation," include the potential for increasing agricultural yields, making bio-solar energy production more feasible, and improving understanding of a globally important biological process that is vital for providing the energy needed to sustain virtually all life on Earth... ...


Can it potty train my new puppy, too?

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Thu, Oct 27, 2011
from Christian Science Monitor:
'Unearthly' beauty tops jobs? Obama freezes mining near Grand Canyon.
Teddy Roosevelt can rest easy. The Obama administration on Wednesday formally unveiled a plan to ban new uranium and other mining claims on 1 million acres of federal lands bordering the Grand Canyon for 20 years -- a move that follows in the footsteps of the 26th president's efforts in the early part of last century. ...


Yes we canyon!

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Iceland to help France save trees from global warming
Iceland and France are looking into the possibility of taking French trees endangered by global warming and planting them in Iceland to safeguard them for the future, officials said. "The main emphasis (in the collaboration) is on research and finding ways to ensure the protection and preservation of the DNA... of the trees in Iceland," Adalsteinn Sigurgeirsson of the Icelandic Forestry Service told AFP. The service is working with France's Office National des Forets, and their collaboration is focusing on trees from the French Alps and Pyrenees, such as beech. ...


It takes a planet to save a village!

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Sat, Oct 15, 2011
from CNN:
Green sidewalk makes electricity -- one footstep at a time
Paving slabs that convert energy from people's footsteps into electricity are set to help power Europe's largest urban mall, at the 2012 London Olympics site. The recycled rubber "PaveGen" paving slabs harvest kinetic energy from the impact of people stepping on them and instantly deliver tiny bursts of electricity to nearby appliances. The slabs can also store energy for up to three days in an on-board battery, according to its creator. In their first commercial application, 20 tiles will be scattered along the central crossing between London's Olympic stadium and the recently opened Westfield Stratford City mall -- which expects an estimated 30 million customers in its first year. ...


Consumers ... giving back? Now that's an antidote for the apocalypse.

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Humanity falls deeper into ecological debt: study
Humankind will slip next week into ecological debt, having gobbled up in less then nine months more natural resources than the planet can replenish in a year, researchers said Tuesday.... At its current pace of consumption humankind will need, by 2030, a second globe to satisfy its voracious appetites and absorb all its waste, the report calculated. Earth's seven billion denizens -- nine billion by mid-century -- are using more water, cutting down more forests and eating more fish than Nature can replace, it said. At the same time, we are disgorging more CO2, pollutants and chemical fertilizers than the atmosphere, soil and oceans can soak up without severely disrupting the ecosystems that have made our planet such a comfortable place for homo sapiens to live. Counting down from January 1, the date when human activity exceeds its budget -- dubbed "Earth Overshoot Day" -- had receded by about three days each year since 2001. The tipping point into non-sustainability happened sometime in the 1970s, said the Oakland, California-based Global Footprint Network, which issued the report. ...


C'mon, Nature, get cracking!

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Wed, Sep 7, 2011
from Marine Conservation Biology Institute, via EurekAlert:
Deep-sea fish in deep trouble
A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers. In a comprehensive analysis published online this week in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable.... Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them. "The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse... "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."... The deep sea provides less than 1 percent of the world's seafood.... Orange roughy take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and can live 125 years. Compared with most coastal fishes, they live in slow-motion. Unfortunately for them and the deep-sea corals they live among, they can no longer hide from industrial fishing. ...


Looks like we're floundering in the deep end of deep shit.

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Wed, Aug 31, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
With Trouble on the Range, Ranchers Wish They Could Leave It to Beavers
Clyde Woolery wants his beavers back. Mr. Woolery's ranch on Beaver Creek outside Kinnear, Wyo., has been beaver-free for decades, but he could sure use their help now. A small beaver colony, he says, would engineer dams that raise the water table under his pastures, opening up drinking holes for his cattle... It's a bit of a turnabout in these parts, where beavers have long been considered something of a nuisance -- blamed for everything from damming irrigation canals and gnawing fruit orchards to just generally wreaking havoc with agriculture. In many states, it's legal to shoot a beaver on private land. In Oregon, the Beaver State, the nocturnal creatures can be designated as "predators." But their slick skill set is what many landscapes now need, says a cadre of pro-beaver ranchers and environmentalists who work on behalf of people like Mr. Woolery. ...


A love for beaver makes for some strange bedfellows.

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Wed, Aug 24, 2011
from National Research Council:
Report Offers Framework To Guide EPA On Incorporating Sustainability In Its Decision Making
A new report from the National Research Council presents a framework for incorporating sustainability into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's principles and decision making. The framework, which was requested by EPA, is intended to help the agency better assess the social, environmental, and economic impacts of various options as it makes decisions. The committee that developed the framework used the definition of sustainability based on a declaration of federal policy in the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act and included in a 2009 Executive Order: "to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations."... The report recommends that EPA formally adopt as its sustainability paradigm the widely used "three pillars" approach, which means considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of an action or decision. Health should be expressly included in the "social" pillar. EPA should also articulate its vision for sustainability and develop a set of sustainability principles that would underlie all agency policies and programs. ...


Where's the money in that?

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Huffington Post:
"Politics cannot deliver on what science requires": SA Foreign Minister
South Africa's foreign minister said Monday she is hoping for compromise but expects only incremental progress in climate change talks she's hosting, further lowering hopes the Durban meeting will produce a dramatic agreement to stop global warming. There are fears that "politics cannot deliver on what science requires," Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told South African business leaders in a speech Monday. She was speaking three months before talks in Durban that follow a failed round in Copenhagen in 2009 that undermined confidence the world could produce a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto provisions capping greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries expire in 2012.... "I will need to find compromises that will protect the integrity of the process," Nkoana-Mashabane said.... The U.S., a key player, has already said it does not expect this year's climate change conference to yield a binding international agreement. ...


Lowered expectations cannot deliver on what reality requires.

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Thu, Aug 18, 2011
from Reuters:
Solar company Evergreen files for bankruptcy
U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc filed for bankruptcy on Monday, its once cutting-edge technology falling victim to competition from cheaper Chinese rivals and solar subsidy cuts in Europe. The Chapter 11 filing by a company once seen at the forefront of U.S. renewable energy technology came after a two-year struggle to stave off competition from Asia. The increasingly crowded market forced Evergreen to close its much-touted but short-lived Massachusetts factory and relocate manufacturing to China, and resulted in the virtual disappearance of its once-lofty stock market value. ...


Evergreen nevermore.

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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from Mother Jones:
The Deal With $8 Eggs
Confronted at her neigborhood market by the spectacle of $8/dozen eggs--which had sold out, no less--Black frets that "that the 'good-food-costs-more' argument is being taken to an extreme that puts at risk the goal of a mass food-reform movement, which is to make good food available to the greatest number of people possible."... So we have a genuine quandary here: A farmer who's just scraping by while doing the right thing by his land and his birds, charging a price that makes the whole concept of alternative food systems seem hopelessly elitist. Meanwhile, at my local Walmart in Boone, North Carolina, a dozen eggs will set you back just $1.18. Those 10-cent eggs, of course, are produced in vast, fetid factories, sucking in huge amounts of environmentally ruinous corn and concentrating much more manure than can properly be absorbed into surrounding farmland.... How much of a hidden subsidy does big agribusiness reap from our lax regulatory regime, some of which it pockets in profit and some of which it passes on to consumers in the form of stuff like 10-cent eggs and $2-a-pound pork chops?... But if you made the giant hog factories deal properly with the vast amount of toxic waste they produce, the price difference reverses. In other words, a Walmart value-pack of pork chops would cost significantly more per pound than the pasture-raised ones that give you sticker shock at the farmers market.... But the report also points to a third kind of hog production, pictured left: hoop houses that give hogs plenty of room to roam over beds of straw. Their production costs are only marginally higher than those of factory hog farms under current regulations, and they don't generate massive waste problems or require daily doses of antibiotics. ...


Strangely, even "hog heaven" ends in brutal death.

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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from Guardian:
Farmers turn away from organic as sales drop
Farmers across the UK have been deserting organic farming, or holding back on plans to convert their land to more environmentally friendly farming methods, as sales of organic products have fallen in the economic downturn. Last year, only 51,000 hectares was in "conversion" - the process that farmers need to go through to have their land and practices certified as organic. That is less than half the amount of land that was in conversion in 2009, which itself was down markedly from the recent peak of 158,000Ha in 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday morning. Far fewer farmers are interested in turning their land to organic production, despite the promise of premium prices for their produce, after a marked fall in sales of organic goods in the past two years as a result of the recession.... "This is very worrying," said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "What this points to is that the UK government is doing barely anything to promote organic farming, despite the benefits of it."... The number of organic producers or processors, including arable and livestock farmers, and food processors, fell by 3.7 percent last year across the UK as a whole, with the number in Scotland falling by 10 percent. ...


See? I told ya that unsustainable agriculture was where the big money was.

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Wed, Aug 10, 2011
from Fast Company:
In Drought-Stricken Texas, They're Drinking Water Recycled From Urine
Would you drink recycled urine? Residents of Big Spring, Texas may not have a choice--the local water district is breaking ground this year on a $13 million treatment plant that will direct 2 million gallons per day of thoroughly cleaned sewage back into the regular water system. It's a practical solution for a drought-stricken state that is hunting for water wherever it can. It's not as if wastewater recycling is a new idea. Texas has, in fact, used reclaimed water for over a century. But generally, the recycled water doesn't go to the tap; it's used in parks, golf courses, outdoor fountains, and more. The state has plenty of indirect sewage recycling plants--one of the newer plants filters wastewater through a wetland before sending it out to the facilities that want this so-called "raw water". In contrast, the Big Spring plant will use sewage that has already gone through a traditional wastewater treatment plant, clean it out further, and combine it in a pipeline with lake water before sending it out to be used by residents in their sinks, toilets, and showers. This is, according to KDAF-TV, the first plant of its kind in the state--and one of the only plants like it in the country. ...


Big Spring has sprung a leak!

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Wed, Aug 3, 2011
from EurekAlert:
Crop breeding could 'slash CO2 levels'
Writing in the journal Annals of Botany, Professor Douglas Kell argues that developing crops that produce roots more deeply in the ground could harvest more carbon from the air, and make crops more drought resistant, while dramatically reducing carbon levels. In principle, any crops could be treated in this way, giving more productive yields while also being better for the environment.... Breeding crop plants with deeper and bushy root ecosystems could simultaneously improve both the soil structure and its steady-state carbon, water and nutrient retention, as well as sustainable plant yields.... "In addition to the simple carbon sequestration that this breeding could imply - possibly double that of common annual grain crops - such plants seem to mobilise and retain nutrients and water very effectively over extended periods, thus providing resistance to drought, flooding and other challenges we shall face from climate change. "While there is a way to go before such crops might have, for example, the grain yields of present day cereals, their breeding and deployment seems a very promising avenue for sustainable agriculture." ...


I'm rooting for this guy!

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Thu, Jul 21, 2011
from Post Carbon Institute:
The Peak Oil Crisis: Reality On Hold
As much of America bakes in some of the highest temperatures ever recorded and while Washington argues interminably over taxes, budget cuts and debt caps, one is struck by the unreality of it all. When the House of Representatives votes to preserve the incandescent light bulb for a while as a symbol of personal freedom, it is as if we have entered a wonderland where black is white, up is down and as a nation we have lost touch with reality.... At last count there were at least a dozen mega dangers looming on the horizon all of which have the potential to change the nature of global civilization in profound ways. Yet the body politic seems to take little or no notice and concerns itself largely with issues that will soon be swept away by change. These dangers range from the depletion of our fossil fuel and mineral resources, to shrinking food and water supplies, to rising oceans, to political upheavals.... so long as a lot of us believe that we can reestablish economic growth, and wait for the return of the climate to "normal" our politicians will try to satisfy or at least say they will try to satisfy these aspirations. Change will only come when enough people realize that a return to life-as-we-knew-it a few years back is no longer possible or is at least unlikely. Unfortunately most of our media starts with the assumption that our current woes are only temporary and if we only wait long enough economic growth will resume has it always has in living memory and climate change will not turn out to be so bad as alarmists fears. ...


As long as we stay drunk, we won't have a hangover, right?

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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Pa. wind turbines deadly to bats, costly to farmers
...The 420 wind turbines now in use across Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year -- mostly in the late summer months, according to the state Game Commission. That's an average of 25 bats per turbine per year, and the Nature Conservancy predicts as many as 2,900 turbines will be set up across the state by 2030... Bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers are left with the bill for more pesticide and crops...If one turbine kills 25 bats in a year, that means one turbine accounted for about 17 million uneaten bugs in 2010. ...


Do THIS math: If I don't have electricity I don't have TV!

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Mon, Jul 18, 2011
from EcoHearth:
The Film 'Farmageddon' Says It's 1984 for Small Farmers
The documentary film Farmageddon explores the fine line between consumer protection and government intrusion when it comes to food safety. Certainly we all want wholesome food, but what happens when rules written with agribusiness in mind are inflexibly applied to family farms by overzealous regulators? It often means the latter are harassed to the point of being driven out of business, less choice for consumers and ultimately less healthy food.... Farmageddon has high production values and a solid human-interest angle. It follows individual farmers and others as their businesses are slowly choked off by raids, forced shut-downs and confiscations of products and equipment--many times unrelated to the laws being enforced, and so seemingly serving only the purpose of harassment. Some of the police actions are chillingly reminiscent of those depicted in the dystopian classic, 1984. Since when is it necessary for a local sheriff to employ an armed SWAT team to shut down a co-op for selling raw-milk yogurt? Since when should a parent who has found that raw milk cured a longstanding illness in her son have such difficulty obtaining it? These are just two questions that the film Farmageddon skillfully and entertainingly asks. ...


I heard that small natural farms were unhealthy, because they don't feed everything antibiotics.

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Fri, Jul 15, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Clean Energy Investment Up 22 Percent on Solar Boom, New Energy Says
New investment in clean energy rose 22 percent from a year ago to $41.7 billion in the second quarter following a jump in funding for solar thermal power plants, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. The figure was 27 percent higher than in the first quarter and the third-highest on record, the London-based researcher said. BrightSource Energy Inc. raised $2.2 billion for its 392- megawatt project in the U.S. while funds also flowed to Nextera Energy Resources LLC and Eskom Holdings Ltd. The findings contrast with a 13 percent slump during the quarter for the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which tracks 93 clean energy companies. The Standard & Poor's 500 index of leading U.S. shares was little changed in the period. "The explanation is partly to do with ongoing investor worries, perhaps overdone, about future policy support, and partly to do with the fact that this is a highly competitive sector, in which costs are falling and high manufacturer margins are hard to sustain," said Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of New Energy Finance, said in a statement released today. ...


That may track with rising ice loss, weather disruptions, resource wars, and other energy-sector indicators.

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
House GOP fails to repeal light bulb efficiency requirement
Opponents of the federal phaseout of old-style incandescent light bulbs failed in the House on Tuesday to repeal the requirement for more efficient lighting but are expected to try again soon. Republicans who have portrayed the new light bulb efficiency rules as a symbol of Washington regulatory overreach fell short of the two-thirds majority required for expedited action on the repeal measure, the Better Use of Our Light Bulbs, or BULB, Act. ...


Republicans are dim.

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Wed, Jul 13, 2011
from Yale360:
Peak Phosphate: Critical Resource Beginning to Run Low
Not many people would call phosphate a critical issue or one with serious environmental consequences. But even leaving aside the resource politics of the Sahara, it is an absolutely vital resource for feeding the world. It is also a resource that could start running low within a couple of decades -- and one we grossly misuse, pouring it across the planet and recycling virtually none of it.... It takes one ton of phosphate to produce every 130 tons of grain, which is why the world mines about 170 million tons of phosphate rock every year to ship around the world and keep soils fertile.... The world is not about to run out of phosphate. But demand is rising, most of the best reserves are gone, and those that remain are in just a handful of countries. Dana Cordell of Linkoping University in Sweden, who runs an academic group called the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, says we could hit "peak phosphorus" production by around 2030. ...


I'm aphraid that pholks will pheel this only when phood becomes unaphphordable.

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from GreenBiz:
How Shareholder Activism Moved the Needle on Sustainability in 2011
From fracking by companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Ultra Petroleum to greater use of recyclable cups by McDonald's and Starbucks, a host of CSR issues captured shareholders' attention and support this year, according to reports on the 2011 proxy season from As You Sow and Ceres. A record number of shareholder resolutions calling for companies to be more responsible in handling corporate sustainability challenges were filed, according to Ceres' report.... "The number of shareholders that actually realize they have power has been increasing and, overall, the number of votes have been increasing," Behar told GreenBiz.com. On matters such as natural gas fracking, the votes on resolutions clearly show that "shareholders are looking at issues and saying, 'This is really risky and the company has to do something about it,' " Behar said. ...


The new protest tactic is a good investment!

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Fri, Jul 8, 2011
from New York Times:
E.P.A. Issues Tougher Rules for Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued new standards for power plants in 28 states that would sharply cut emissions of chemicals that have polluted forests, farms, lakes and streams across the Eastern United States for decades. The agency said the regulations, which will take effect in 2012, would reduce emissions of compounds that cause soot, smog and acid rain from hundreds of power plants by millions of tons at an additional cost to utilities of less than $1 billion a year. The E.P.A. said the cleaner air would prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments every year. ...


But... the healthier people are, the longer they live and the more electricity they'll need.

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Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from TomDispatch:
Michael Klare, The Energy Landscape of 2041
Let's see: today, it's a story about rising sea levels. Now, close your eyes, take a few seconds, and try to imagine what word or words could possibly go with such a story. Time's up, and if "faster," "far faster," "fastest," or "unprecedented" didn't come to mind, then the odds are that you're not actually living on planet Earth in the year 2011. Yes, a new study came out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures sea-level rise over the last 2,000 years and -- don't be shocked -- it's never risen faster than now. Earlier in the week, there was that report on the state of the oceans produced by a panel of leading marine scientists. Now, close your eyes and try again. Really, this should be easy. Just look at the previous paragraph and choose "unprecedented," and this time pair it with "loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory," or pick "far faster" (as in "the seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted"), or for a change of pace, how about "more quickly" as in "more quickly than had been predicted" as the "world's oceans move into 'extinction' phase."... This will be a war because the future profitability, or even survival, of many of the world's most powerful and wealthy corporations will be at risk, and because every nation has a potentially life-or-death stake in the contest. For giant oil companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, an eventual shift away from petroleum will have massive economic consequences.... In the meantime, the struggle for energy resources is guaranteed to grow ever more intense for a simple reason: there is no way the existing energy system can satisfy the world's future requirements. It must be replaced or supplemented in a major way by a renewable alternative system or, forget Westphalia, the planet will be subject to environmental disaster of a sort hard to imagine today. ...


Surely we would have woken up to what we were doing by then and changed our entire way of doing things... wouldn't we?

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Tue, May 31, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Wind farms: Britain is 'running out of wind'
According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal - while 2010 was the "stillest" year of the past decade. Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation's growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed. The Coalition has drawn up plans to open more wind farms in an effort to meet Britain's European Union target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. More than 3,600 turbines are expected to be installed in offshore wind farms over the next nine years. But statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. ...


Frankly my dear all we are is dust in the wind.

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Fri, May 6, 2011
from The Telegraph:
All the pro-growth pro-fracking implicit denier arguments rolled into one
... As Dyson puts it in his foreword: Because of shale gas, the air in Beijing will be cleaned up as the air in London was cleaned up sixty years ago. Because of shale gas, clean air will no longer be a luxury that only rich countries can afford. Because of shale gas, wealth and health will be distributed more equitably over the face of our planet.... And hey presto, before the shale gas industry can properly take off the image has already been planted in a susceptible public's brain: shale gas is bad because it involves a process called "fracking", which sounds unnatural and frightening and a bit swear-wordy, and because it involves gas leaks into the water table and methane leaks into the atmosphere or something like that, and because all the "experts" say it ought to be investigated further (ie delayed indefinitely) on the "precautionary principle." We have been here before, haven't we?... [I write to] remind you of the horrendous socio-political crisis we in the free world are facing today: one in which economic progress and commonsense threaten to be undermined at every turn by an insidious, mendacious and terrifyingly powerful global green movement which has its tentacles in almost every pie from the Obama administration to David Cameron's Coalition to the EU to the UN to the MSM to the schools, universities and NGOs. The ideology of these Watermelons has virtually nothing to do with saving the environment (if it were, they'd be embracing shale gas wholesale) and almost everything to do with an instinctive loathing for economic growth combined with a bullying, puritanical urge to impose energy policy by diktat rather than by allowing the market to decide the most effective method. ...


We can grow forever, shit in our sink, use up our savings, buy on credit, and consume everything we desire. Best of all, there are no consequences!

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Tue, May 3, 2011
from New York Times:
One Fish, Two Fish, False-ish, True-ish
Two University of Washington scientists have just published a study in the journal Conservation Biology in collaboration with colleagues from Rutgers University and Dalhousie University arguing that the gloomiest predictions about the world's fisheries are significantly exaggerated. The new study takes issue with a recent estimate that 70 percent of all stocks have been harvested to the point where their numbers have peaked and are now declining, and that 30 percent of all stocks have collapsed to less than one-tenth of their former numbers. Instead, it finds that at most 33 percent of all stocks are over-exploited and up to 13 percent of all stocks have collapsed. It's not that fisheries are in great shape, said Trevor Branch, the lead author of the new study; it's just that they are not as badly off as has been widely believed.... But Dirk Zeller, a scientist at the University of British Columbia who is on the other side of the debate, doesn't buy all of Dr. Branch's arguments.... "Where their argument falls down is that they extrapolate that pattern to global fisheries, and then say global fisheries aren't doing that bad," he said. "They totally ignore the fact that all of Asia, all of South America, all of Africa are not included."... “I have no argument with the point that with stocks that are well managed you can have sustainable fisheries,” Dr. Zeller said.... Dr. Branch, for his part, says that catch data has value for some uses as long as it is handled with care. ...


One fish, two fish, zero fish, nothing rhymes.

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Sat, Apr 30, 2011
from Climatewire:
Scientists Probe Genetic Component of Climate-Hardy Species
Douglas firs have more than 38,000 genes, roughly twice the number in the human genome. So any gene that has helped those trees survive extreme drought, heat and disease has been passed down through generations of seedlings... Forest Service researchers are in the midst of teasing out which of those genes help Douglas firs and 39 other species of plants, animals and pathogens found in Western forests adapt to climate change. Armed with that information, managers could select more robust seeds to replant forests destroyed by fire or disease, or propagate those seeds to help conserve a species. ...


What do you wanna bet mountain pine beetles and emerald ash borers have their researchers working on this, too.

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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from Chemical Science, via EurekAlert:
A chance discovery may revolutionize hydrogen production
Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost is too high. A team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a molybdenum based catalyst is produced at room temperature, inexpensive and efficient. The results of the research are published online in Chemical Science Thursday the 14th of April. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filled. Existing in large quantities on Earth, water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. It can be broken down by applying an electrical current; this is the process known as electrolysis. To improve this particularly slow reaction, platinum is generally used as a catalyst. However, platinum is a particularly expensive material that has tripled in price over the last decade. Now EPFL scientists have shown that amorphous molybdenum sulphides, found abundantly, are efficient catalysts and hydrogen production cost can be significantly lowered. The new catalysts exhibit many advantageous technical characteristics. They are stable and compatible with acidic, neutral or basic conditions in water. Also, the rate of the hydrogen production is faster than other catalysts of the same price. The discovery opens up some interesting possibilities for industrial applications such as in the area of solar energy storage. ...


Looks like the American Way of Life is not only Non-Negotiable, it's possibly Catalyzable.

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Fri, Mar 25, 2011
from Leader-Post:
Counting down to 2011 Earth Hour
Major landmarks across Canada -from the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver to the MontRoyal Cross in Montreal -will stand in darkness Saturday as more than 100 countries pledge to turn their lights off as a call to action for climate change. Earth Hour started as a simple conversation between The World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Chicago-based advertising agency Leo Burnett and the Sydney Morning Herald about climate change and how to raise and demonstrate public support. But that discussion sparked an idea that led to the now-annual, hour-long, lights-off event. ...


At my house, we're having Earth Night!

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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Climate change adaptation 'needs to move up the agenda'
Adaptation urgently needs to move up the climate change agenda, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office in the UK. "Talking about adaptation to climate change has for a long time been frowned upon as it is seen as giving up on mitigation," Betts told environmentalresearchweb. "But people need to wake up to the fact that we are already locked into a certain amount of climate change and we need to make sure we are prepared for the consequences."... Betts believes it is the role of the media, climatologists and policymakers to make sure that the need for adaptation moves up the agenda and that people are not so distracted by mitigation alone. ...


Not to worry -- the Republicans already voted global warming down.

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Fri, Mar 18, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Battle-proof Wind Farms Survive Japan's Trial by Fire
As the world collectively holds its breath to see how the Fukushima crisis plays out (the quote of the day has got to be: "The worst-case scenario doesn't bear mentioning and the best-case scenario keeps getting worse...") there's a positive story which is not yet being reported. Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis. Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake "battle proof design" came through with flying colors. Mr. Ueda confirms that most Japanese wind turbines are fully operational. Indeed, he says that electric companies have asked wind farm owners to step up operations as much as possible in order to make up for shortages in the eastern part of the country. ...


Yeah, but can wind power generate radiation? I don't think so.

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Fri, Mar 18, 2011
from Greenwire:
Christian Coalition Visits Hill for Energy Discussion
The Christian Coalition of America came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, not to proselytize or discuss issues like abortion or gay marriage, but to talk about the United States' energy policy and the need to end the country's dependence on foreign oil....Announcing the event, the coalition said in a statement, "We believe that there needs to be a conservative discussion on a national energy policy that speaks to the values of energy independence, national security, prosperity, family and stewardship. That is why we are sponsoring this discussion."... Other speakers who addressed the group were C. Boyden Gray...Gray said, "The United States is drowning in substitutes for oil." He said the country must become more reliant on natural gas, which is plentiful in the United States, to become less dependent on oil. ...


That frucker Gray apparently hasn't been reading how frucked fracking is on the environment.

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Tue, Mar 15, 2011
from New York Times:
Wind and Solar Stocks Surge on Nuclear Fears
Stocks for wind and solar energy producers jump as investors speculate that demand for renewable power will surge in response to the unfolding Japanese nuclear catastrophe. The German solar-panel maker Solarworld AG leads the pack, surging 32 percent. [Bloomberg]... Plans for a $10 billion expansion of a South Texas nuclear plant could be shelved because of repercussions from the growing disaster in Japan, analysts say. "We think the potential added pressure could be the end of its nuclear loan guarantee award," Barclays tells clients, referring to the project by NRG Energy. [Reuters] ...


So maybe that radioactive cloud has a silver lining?

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Thu, Mar 10, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Bottom-trawling makes for skinny cod
Trawling the sea floor for bottom-dwelling fish is making cod skinnier, scientists have found. The study looked at the size of cod, lemon sole, megrim and haddock in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland. It found these fish tended to be smaller in heavily trawled areas and in worse general health.... Writing in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they warned that the study "implies that bottom trawling can reduce habitat-carrying capacity". The practice "is likely to further diminish fisheries productivity and impair the recovery of threatened stocks and ecosystems." ...


What kinda thing is "habitat carrying capacity"? It's too hard to say.

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Greening the faith
... Last Saturday, leaders from 16 Christian denominations, along with Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Unitarian leaders, gathered at First Baptist Church of Indianapolis to celebrate the inauguration of Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light. The organization is an affiliate of the national Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) organization, founded in 1998, which considers itself the "religious response to global warming." Its goal is to educate religious congregations on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and conservation. "The first goal of Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light is to reduce our carbon use, our energy use, within our places of worship," explained Luke Gascho, board chair of the new organization and director of the Merry Lea Environmental Center at Goshen College, to the gathering of about 200 Indiana church leaders.... "Every mainstream religion that I know of has a mandate to care for the earth," said Interfaith Power & Light's founder Rev. Bingham. "For Christians who are commanded to love God and love our neighbors, it could not be clearer... If you love your neighbor, love one another, you don't pollute your neighbor's air and water." ...


I don't believe in God, but I believe in Reverend Bingham.

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Sat, Mar 5, 2011
from Grist:
How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it)
Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life. Sounds like a teabagger's wet dream, but it's actually a conservative estimate of how much you'd save by ditching your car, or even just one of your cars -- and getting on a bicycle instead. ...


One teabagger's wet dream is another teabagger's swollen prostate.

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Wed, Feb 23, 2011
from efinancialnews, thru DesdemonaDespair:
Climate change will force 40 percent shift in asset allocation
Institutional investors need to shift 40 percent of their portfolios into climate-sensitive sectors, including infrastructure and agriculture, to safeguard returns against the impact of global warming, according to consultant Mercer. Mercer is the biggest investment consultant in the world. Its approach, backed in a report by global institutions managing $2 trillion, marks a radical shift of attitude towards climate change by institutions from governance to mainstream investment thinking. Its 40 percent recommendation, designed to preserve a 7 percent a year return, is the result of a sophisticated investment modelling technique that Mercer will introduce to its clients this year. Using advice from the Grantham Research Institute, it has calculated that weather extremes, for example leading to floods and food shortages, could contribute 10 percent to portfolio risk by 2030.... But in its report - Climate Change Scenarios: Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation - Mercer says the time has come for climate hedging to begin. It suggests a higher allocation to climate-sensitive real estate, infrastructure, private equity, sustainable equity, renewable and commodity opportunities - all of which can produce returns regardless of climate change. ...


We're getting better all the time at disaster capitalism!

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Wed, Feb 9, 2011
from ASU, via PhysOrg:
Strange valentines: some consumers literally 'in love' with possessions
Just in time for Valentine's Day, new research from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU shows that a person may actually be "in love" with his or her favorite object. The phenomenon is called "material possession love," and the researchers found these customers are typically lonely and easily can spend a whopping six times more money lavishing their love on beloved possessions than others spend on similar products. "Until now, when we've thought about attachment to objects, most consumer researchers have thought of it in terms of self-identity, such as whether owning and driving an expensive sports car helps you tell others you have a higher social status or makes you seem sportier," said John Lastovicka, the study's primary author and marketing professor at ASU. "We tend to get attached to things that help us convey our sense of self. However, here we found that, in some cases, consumers became emotionally attached to possessions as real substitutes in what resembled human relationships." ...


My possessions never confuse me. They are mine forever, and can't refuse me.

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Sun, Feb 6, 2011
from Huffington Post:
The Jobs Project: Unemployed Coal Miners Install Solar Panels In West Virginia
A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia's southern coalfields region this week - a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors. The 40- by 15-foot solar array going up on a doctor's office in Williamson is significant not for its size but for its location: It signals to an area long reliant on mining that there can be life beyond coal.... The Jobs Project teamed up about a year ago with a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, to develop a privately funded job-training program. The 12 trainees are earning $45 an hour for three days of work, while some local laborers are earning $10 an hour helping out. Mountain View owner Mike McKechnie is also buying all his electrical supplies from a local business. "We are not funded by any state organization. We're doing this as a business because we want to grow the solar infrastructure and industry," McKechnie says. "We're West Virginians, and we think it's important. There's a need here that's not being met." ...


"there can be life beyond coal" has a bell-like tone, doesn't it?

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from Yale360:
Intel the Biggest Buyer Of Green Energy in the U.S., Report Says
Intel Corporation remains the top purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S., nearly doubling the amount of green energy credits it will buy in 2011 to more than 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours -- the equivalent of powering 218,000 American homes -- according to a new ranking by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With that increase, the California-based chipmaker -- which has also built nine solar plants at its facilities in the U.S. and Israel -- now gets about 88 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. The retail chain, Kohl's, which ranked second on the EPA's list of the top 50 green energy buyers, now gets 100 pecent of its electricity from green sources, purchasing more than 1.4 million kilowatt-hours annually. ...


That computes.

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Tue, Feb 1, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Surprising approach could help rescue fragile ecosystems and halt cascades of extinctions
Feral pigs introduced to the Galapagos Archipelago shortly after Charles Darwin's historical visit have damaged the ecosystem of Santiago Island, causing, it is believed, the extinction or imperilment of a number of species. The complete removal of the pigs 11 years ago is beginning to restore balance to the island. Two Northwestern University scientists have developed a mathematical model that supports the management choices in perturbed ecosystems, such as the Galápagos, and illustrates how human intervention may effectively aid species conservation efforts. The selective suppression or removal of one or more species in a troubled ecosystem can save many more species.... Motter explained further, "We find that extinction cascades can often be mitigated by suppressing -- rather than enhancing -- the populations of specific species. In numerous cases, it is predicted that even the proactive removal of a species that would otherwise be extinct by a cascade can prevent the extinction of other species." ...


If you think about this a minute, it has disturbing implications for invasive humans.

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from Guardian:
What exactly are green bonds?
Few people have heard of "green bonds", yet they could be a way of raising the huge amounts of capital needed to tackle climate change and protect our natural world.... This lack of clarity is understandable and is a direct result of all the different types that have been recently proposed. They could, in fact, be all of the following: green gilts, green retail bonds and green investment bank bonds. But, there are many more being proposed as well, including: green infrastructure bonds, *multilateral development bank green bonds, green corporate bonds, green sectoral bonds, rainforest bonds and index-linked carbon bonds. All of these different (and sometimes confusing) classes of green bond have an important role in helping to raise finance for different parts of our low-carbon transition. ...


I'd rather invest in debt-as-collateral endless-growth-forever bonds, just like I was always taught.

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Sat, Jan 15, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
'Stepping off the GDP escalator' path to sustainable economies
Buy, buy, buy; that is the message that most of us hear, and for the last few decades rampant consumerism certainly seems to have ensured that the economic bubble continued to grow. But like all bubbles, the economic one eventually had to burst, and the current global recession is causing some people to question the wisdom of pursuing an ever-growing economy. "Right now the only way we know to keep an economy going is to consume more and more, but I'm asking if we could do better than this," says Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth: Economics For A Finite Planet. "Previously it has been taboo to raise the question of economic growth within government - economic stability is seen to rely on growth," says Jackson. But he thinks that the global recession, change in UK government and failure to reach a climate deal in Copenhagen last year have all helped to break down the taboo and open up debate. "It is now possible to question whether GDP is the best measure of how well we do as a nation, and to ask what happiness really means," says Jackson. ...


As long as you don't question the wisdom of pursuing obesity as a means of improved health.

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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
from TreeHugger:
How Climate Change Threatens the American Farmer
Called An Almanac of Extreme Weather, it's an op-ed for the New York Times written by Jack Hedin, a Minnesotan farmer whose family has been in the business since his great-grandfather homesteaded the land in the late 1800s. He describes the increasingly extreme weather that fits the projections made by climate models, and details the hardship he, his family, and his peers will face as heavy floods become more powerful and more frequent. Hedin notes that even his great grandfather, who recorded in his memoirs the damage dealt by the tornadoes and droughts of the Dust Bowl in the 30s, would be taken aback by the weather his great-grandson's family is coping with today. He mentions that the state's climatologist has said that there have already been three "thousand-year rains" in the past seven years in his part of the state -- and that the trend is expected to continue.... "Climate change, I believe, may eventually pose an existential threat to my way of life. A family farm like ours may simply not be able to adjust quickly enough to such unendingly volatile weather. We can't charge enough for our crops in good years to cover losses in the ever-more-frequent bad ones. We can't continue to move to better, drier ground. No new field drainage scheme will help us as atmospheric carbon concentrations edge up to 400 parts per million; hardware and technology alone can't solve problems of this magnitude." ...


Dear God: is there somebody we can bribe to get out of this mess?

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Tue, Nov 23, 2010
from TreeHugger:
$3k Website Connects Farms to Restaurants, Creating Virtual Coop
From beekeepers using the internet to fight colony collapse disorder, through crop mob and other new agrarians organizing online, to wireless soil sensors optimizing farm resources, a return to sustainable farming does not mean a rejection of what technology has to offer. Inspired by the death of his granddaughter, one retired telecommunications analyst has set about using the power of the internet to promote social justice, reverse the decline in small farming, and create a vibrant food economy for his community.... Knowing that despite the high levels of poverty, some 6000 families owned between 5 and 20 acres of land in his community, and knowing that chefs in nearby Charlotte were itching to buy high-quality, sustainable local produce, Tim figured it was pretty much a case of connecting the dots. So Will created a $3000 website called Farmers Fresh Market where farmers could market produce direct to restaurants, and he created sustainable agriculture and computing courses to help farmers figure out what to grow and how to sell it. ...


Hey! Stop that! Only the big guys get to use technology!

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Sat, Nov 20, 2010
from USA Today:
Kimberly-Clark rolls out tube-free Scott toilet paper
On Monday, Kimberly-Clark, one of the world's biggest makers of household paper products, will begin testing Scott Naturals Tube-Free toilet paper at Walmart and Sam's Club stores throughout the Northeast. If sales take off, it may introduce the line nationally and globally -- and even consider adapting the technology into its paper towel brands. No, the holes in the rolls aren't perfectly round. But they do fit over TP spindles and come with this promise: Even the last piece of toilet paper will be usable -- without glue stuck on it.... The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That's from here to the moon and back -- twice. Most consumers toss, rather than recycle, used tubes, says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly-Clark. "We found a way to bring innovation to a category as mature as bath tissue," he says. ...


And if sales don't take off, maybe you can just do the right thing anyway?

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Sun, Oct 31, 2010
from Reuters, via Yahoo:
World Bank launches scheme to green government accounts
The World Bank on Thursday launched a program to help nations put a value on nature just like GDP in a bid to stop the destruction of forests, wetlands and reefs that underpin businesses and economies. The five-year pilot project backed by India, Mexico and other nations aims to embed nature into national accounts to draw in the full benefits of services such as coastal protection from mangroves or watersheds for rivers that feed cities and crops. "We're here today to create something that no one has tried before: a global partnership that can fundamentally change the way governments value their ecosystems," World Bank President Robert Zoellick told reporters in the Japanese city of Nagoya.... "For economic ministries in particular, it's important to have an accounting measure that they can use to evaluate not only the economic value but the natural wealth of nations," Zoellick told Reuters in an interview. "It's not a silver bullet. It's a way of trying to help people understand better in economic terms the value of natural wealth." While economists try to get a handle on the value of nature, scientists are struggling to get a full picture of the variety of wildlife species around the globe as climate change, exploitation and pollution threaten "mass extinctions," a series of studies published on Wednesday showed. ...


OMG! The foundations of consumer society are being threatened, with the support of the World Bank!

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Wed, Oct 20, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
World must start putting a value on nature
Natural goods and services, such as the pollination provided by bees or filtration of water by wetlands, should be included in a nation's economic value in the same way as GDP, according to a major new United Nations report. The ground-breaking move was suggested at a UN meeting of more than 190 countries in Nagoya, Japan to discuss the loss of wildlife around the world.... Allowing nature to remain unaccounted for within the economy would lead to the continuing rapid extinction of species and huge financial losses. At current rates 1.3 - 2.8 trillion pounds worth of damage is done every year just cutting down trees.... "Teeb can have the same impact for biodiversity as Stern had for climate change and will be a useful tool to help reduce the loss of species and habitats ... economically, we have to take action to reduce the loss of our natural environment before the cost becomes too high," she said. ...


But if we start measuring Nature as if it counted, our entire economic model will be threatened!

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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
from Jerry Mander, in the Guardian:
Climate change v capitalism: the feast is almost over
So, while Obama talked climate change in Copenhagen, he pushed for accelerated growth and consumption, emphasising such climate-deadly industries as private automobile production, new road construction, nuclear power generation, and continued coal extraction (including horrendous "mountain top removal") while extolling an entirely theoretical "clean coal".... Whether it's the political left or right, Obama, or Cameron, or Sarkozy, or Putin, or Wen, or Harper or Miliband or Gingrich or Palin, or any political candidate for any office, they're all talking about the necessity to stimulate growth. The media does, too, whether it's the Guardian or the Murdoch press, the Financial Times or the New York Times. They all agree on the one thing: growth, growth, growth. That's the lifeblood of the system. Everyone is hunting the magic elixir to revive rapid growth. How to build and sell more cars? How to increase industrial production, from computers to heavy equipment to industrial agriculture? How to increase exports? But there's a missing link in the discussion, ignored by nearly everyone in the mainstream debate: nature. They speak about our economy as if it were a separate entity, its own ever-expanding universe, unconnected to any realities outside itself, not embodied within a larger system from which, actually, it emerged and can't escape. Nature cannot be left out of the discussion. It may be the most important detail of the entire conversation. Leaving it out of consideration is, well, suicidal. Here's the point: never-ending growth on a small planet with finite resources is a profound impossibility. It's an absurdity. A fantasy. It's time to wake up. ...


Just so's you know, that fantasy has been makin' me rich.

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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
from World Agroforestry Center, via EurekAlert:
A reinvention of agriculture is needed to meet global challenges
World renowned scientists speaking at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue have called for a radical transformation in the agriculture sector to cope with climate change, food security and to transition towards sustainability.... "Doubling food production by mid-century when so many of the world's soils are depleted and we are faced with a changing climate cannot be achieved with business-as-usual conventional agriculture," Garrity said. "We need to reinvent agriculture in a sustainable and affordable way so that it can adapt to climate change and reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases." Swaminathan added that "novel solutions and technological advances must be married with ecological thinking to drive a truly sustainable agricultural revolution".... These farmers are seeing the results of fertilizer trees that draw nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil through their roots and leaf litter. Exhausted soils are being successfully restored with richer sources of organic nutrients, and crop yields and incomes are on the rise. ...


You'll pry my chemical fertilizer from my cold, dead hands.

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Fri, Sep 17, 2010
from Low Tech Magazine:
Low-Tech Magazine
Low-tech Magazine refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution. A simple, sensible, but nevertheless controversial message; high-tech has become the idol of our society.... The Museum of Old Techniques: For almost every electronic device or oil driven machine there used to be a low-tech alternative that was powered by human muscles, water or wind..... Wind powered factories: The Netherlands had 5 times more windmills in 1850 than it has wind turbines today. One of the most spectacular developments of industrial wind power technology occurred in the Zaan district, a region situated just above Amsterdam in the Netherlands. ...


Isn't it more efficient to burn coal to make steam to turn turbines to power my electric scissors?

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Thu, Sep 16, 2010
from Guardian:
An alternative to the new wave of ecofascism
It is time to acknowledge that mainstream environmentalism has failed to prevent climate catastrophe. Its refusal to call for an immediate consumption reduction has backfired and its demise has opened the way for a wave of fascist environmentalists who reject democratic freedom. One well-known example of the authoritarian turn in environmentalism is James Lovelock, the first scientist to discover the presence of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. Earlier this year he told the Guardian that democracies are incapable of adequately addressing climate change. "I have a feeling," Lovelock said, "that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while." His words may be disturbing, but other ecologists have gone much further. Take for example Pentti Linkola, a Finnish fisherman and ecological philosopher. Whereas Lovelock puts his faith in advanced technology, Linkola proposes a turn to fascistic primitivism. Their only point of agreement is on the need to suspend democracy.... Humanity can avert climate catastrophe without accepting ecological tyranny. However, this will take an immediate, drastic reduction of our consumption. ... Only by silencing the consumerist forces will both climate catastrophe and ecological tyranny be averted. Yes, western consumption will be substantially reduced. But it will be done voluntarily and joyously. ...


I bet Wall Street gets behind this plan!

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Fri, Sep 10, 2010
from 350.org:
Just left a meeting with the White House...
[Bill McKibben writes:] Dear friends, I just walked out of a disappointing meeting with the White House: they refused to accept the Carter solar panel we came to Washington to deliver and said that they would continue their "deliberative process" to discuss putting solar panels back on the White House roof. Well, we're done deliberating. When Pakistan is under water, Russia is on fire, and millions of people are ready for clean energy jobs, it's not time to deliberate: it's time to get to work. Today marks the one month countdown to the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Will you help us celebrate by signing up to register or attend an event today? ...


Not very bright of you, Obama.

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Wed, Aug 25, 2010
from New Scientist:
Pee is for power: Your electrifying excretions
Urine might not pack the punch of rocket fuel, but what it lacks in energy density it makes up for in sheer quantity. It is one of the most abundant waste materials on Earth, with nearly 7 billion people producing roughly 10 billion litres of it every day. Add animals into the mix and this quantity is multiplied several times over. As things stand, this flood of waste poses a problem. Let it run into the water system and it would wipe out entire ecosystems; yet scrubbing it out of waste water costs money and energy. In the US, for instance, waste water treatment plants consume 1.5 per cent of all the electricity the country generates. So wouldn't it be nice if, instead of being a vast energy consumer, urine could be put to use. That thought occurred to Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University in Athens, during a discussion in 2002 with colleagues about possible sources of hydrogen for use in fuel cells. ...


The answer was at our fingertips all along!

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Thu, Aug 12, 2010
from Marketplace:
A green way to dispose human remains
...Cutting carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses, has become a goal that reaches into every corner of life. And now, it seems, death. Six states in this country have approved a new, low-carbon way to dispose of human remains. Resomation is being offered as an alternative to cremation -- reducing the body to a mixture of liquid and minerals...The process was developed by a Scottish firm. With zero carbon emissions and using seven times less energy than cremation, this... would make for the greenest of funerals...but many people recoil from it for other reasons. Resomation produces a kind of powder, which can be tastefully placed in an urn and given to the bereaved. But it also leaves a fluid -- and that, it has been suggested, might be washed down the drain. ...


Being washed down the drain seems fitting somehow.

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Sun, Jul 25, 2010
from Scientific American:
Gee Whiz: Human Urine Is Shown to Be an Effective Agricultural Fertilizer
...environmental scientists at the University of Kuopio in Finland, grew the beets as an experiment in sustainable fertilization. They nourished the root vegetables with a combination of urine and wood ash, which they found worked as well as traditional mineral fertilizer... Urine is chock full of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which are the nutrients plants need to thrive--and the main ingredients in common mineral fertilizers. There is, of course, a steady supply of this man-made plant food: an adult on a typical Western diet urinates about 500 liters a year, enough to fill three standard bathtubs. And despite the gross-out potential, urine is practically sterile when it leaves the body.... ...


All along, the solution was right at our fingertips!

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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
New membrane makes fresh water from sea and sewage feasible
Researchers at Yale University have developed a custom membrane that can clean and purify water from oceans, salty ground water or sewage water with far less energy input than currently is required to do a similar job. The membrane may be a big step forward in reaching the goal of reliable and affordable sources of fresh water. Finding sustainable sources of clean drinking water is a major global challenge, especially in most of the developing world. The need is apparent in both urban areas, due to growing population and demand, and rural regions, where sometimes scarce water supplies are quickly drying up. As fresh water becomes more scarce, desalination and filtering will be increasingly necessary to satisfy the world's unquenchable thirst for this precious commodity. Yet, neither of the existing desalination technologies -- distilling sea water water vapors by boiling then collecting the water vapors or reverse osmosis where water is pushed through membranes to filter the salt -- are feasible on a large scale. Both require high amounts of energy to either boil the water or create pressure. ...


Now if we can just develop a membrane to turn that water into wine.

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Mon, Jul 12, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
Restaurants Mobilize to Save Fisheries
he world's rising appetite for seafood is on a collision course with its wild fisheries, leaving restaurant companies and other big buyers caught in the middle. Amid reports the world's oceans are in danger of being emptied of some fish, companies such as McDonald's Corp., Long John Silver's owner Yum Brands Inc. and Red Lobster parent Darden Restaurants Inc. have embraced the growing movement toward more eco-friendly seafood-buying practices. They are working with scientists and nonprofit groups to ensure the fish they buy is sustainable, meaning caught in a way that doesn't damage the ability of the species to reproduce. "We know if we go raping and pillaging it today, there's nothing left for tomorrow," says Ken Conrad, the owner of the chain of 10 Libby Hill seafood restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia and chairman of the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood-industry trade group. ...


This guy kinda lost me with the "raping" part.

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Sun, Jun 6, 2010
from BusinessGreen:
Only business can save us now
It has been a sobering week for anyone with an interest in the low-carbon economy. While the good news continues to pour in for individual firms and countries, the prognosis for the international climate talks that reconvened in Bonn on Monday looks as bleak as at any point in the past two years. Anyone hoping that a line had been drawn under the acrimonious row that marred the final few days of the Copenhagen summit would have been left disillusioned within minutes of the latest round of talks getting under way.... Barring miracles, the obstacles faced by the US climate bill and the UN climate negotiations look increasingly insurmountable. But climate change and its associated risks will not wait for us to complete our political machinations, which leaves us facing one crucial question: where will the miracles come from? The answer is the business community. ...


How great that we have had the last century of practice letting the desire for profit change the world.

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Thu, May 20, 2010
from CNN:
Giant solar-powered yacht to circle globe
Intensive trials are under way as the world's largest solar-powered yacht prepares to circumnavigate the globe. As heavy as a whale and 30 meters long, the vessel is adorned with 536 square-meters of photovoltaic panels -- enough to cover over two tennis courts -- which its crew hope will enable it to complete the 50,000 kilometre journey fueled by nothing but energy from the sun. "This is not just an adventure story," skipper Raphael Domjan told CNN. "We want to show the world that we have the technology right now to change how we do things." Energy captured from the sun and stored in the world's largest lithium ion battery will power a noise-free, pollution-free electric motor during an estimated 160 day voyage. The boat, christened "Turanor" after a word meaning "power of the sun" in JRR Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is Domjan's brainchild. ...


And hey, on a cloudy day, if this yacht is anywhere near the Gulf it can just scoop up some stray oil.

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Wed, May 19, 2010
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
With newly protected boreal forest, the caribou are smiling
Two old foes in Canada have made peace to conserve some of the world's most precious natural resources. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, signed by most of the Canadian forestry industry and environmental activists, is nothing less than historic. It will result in a real and internationally significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and it serves as a model of non-governmental co-operation. The agreement commits all participating companies (which cover some 70 per cent of Canada's boreal forest) to the most advanced sustainability practices in forestry: practices that "start with the science" and make the protection of species-at-risk paramount. Canada's woodland caribou, and other less photogenic species that traverse the boreal forest, are among the greatest beneficiaries. ...


Caribou are smiling... and by extension we presume the clams are happy!

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Sun, May 16, 2010
from London Daily Mail:
After 12,000-mile flight to green meeting, there's MUTINY in the Climate Camp
A decision by a climate-change group to fly leading activists 12,000 miles to a conference threatens to tear the movement apart. The leadership of Climate Camp - which is opposed to flying and airport expansion - have been accused of hypocrisy after they sent two members on a 1,200 [pounds] round-trip to Bolivia. The leaders argued it was necessary to attend the 'transnational protest' - even though the flights generated eight tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases. Now a furious backlash against the trip threatens to split the group, which in the past has blockaded Heathrow airport and clashed with police at demonstrations against coal-fired power stations. ...


Why can't we all just get (telepathically) along?

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Thu, May 13, 2010
from DC Bureau:
Poseidon's Desalinization Plant: Dream Water Supply or Draining the Pacific and Taxpayers?
...After 12 years of permitting battles, the [Poseidon] desalination plant - which could open the floodgates for many others on the California coast - may finally be built. Best of all, the developers promise, it will cost the public nothing to build... But dozens of interviews and a review of available records by the Public Education Center's DCBureau.org shows that while private equity and bonds would be used for upfront construction, southern Californians would pay at least $640 million over 30 years for the project, including as much as $374 million in public subsidies...But critics say that far from being a New Age answer to water woes, the plant and others like it are costly, unnecessary boondoggles that often malfunction and carry damaging environmental side effects. They argue keeping water prices artificially low through subsidies for costly desalination plants is the wrong approach, and that conservation, recycling wastewater, and other far cheaper alternatives should be tried first. ...


Sounds like a Poseidon adventure waiting to happen.

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from The Economist:
A radial brew
...About a billion tyres are made every year--each one requiring about 26 litres (or seven American gallons) of oil. Now a way has been found to make greener tyres by using genetically modified bugs to produce isoprene biologically. The work is being carried out by Genencor, an industrial biotech company based in California, in collaboration with Goodyear, one of the world's biggest tyremakers...Genencor used a genetically modified form of E-coli, a favourite species of bacteria in microbial genetics, to produce BioIsoprene. By splicing in genes from other bugs, the company was able to engineer synthetic metabolic pathways--ones that do not exist in nature--that enable the bacteria to produce isoprene from the sugars found in plant materials such as sugar cane, corn cobs and switchgrass, a tall-growing variety native to North America. ...


Just so we don't end up having to eat these tyres.

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Wed, Apr 7, 2010
from Scientific American:
Climate Scientist Hansen Wins $100,000 Prize
U.S. climate scientist James Hansen won a $100,000 environmental prize Wednesday for decades of work trying to alert politicians to what he called an unsolved emergency of global warming. Hansen, born in 1941, will visit Oslo in June to collect the Sophie Prize, set up in 1997 by Norwegian Jostein Gaarder, the author of the 1991 best-selling novel and teenagers' guide to philosophy "Sophie's World." "Hansen has played a key role for the development of our understanding of human-induced climate change," the prize citation said.... "We really have an emergency," Hansen said in a video link with the prize panel in Oslo about feared climate changes such as a thaw of ice sheets on Greenland or Antarctica or a loss of species of animals and plants in a warming world. ...


When asked what he'd do with the money, Hansen said "I've been hankering for a Ford Escalade for awhile now."

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Tue, Mar 16, 2010
from University of Minnesota, via EurekAlert:
Researcher finds people will forgo luxury for green products when status is on mind
Environmentally friendly products are everywhere one looks. Energy efficient dishwashers, bamboo towels, the paperless Kindle and, of course, the ubiquitous Prius are all around. But why do people buy these "green" products? Do they care about the environment or is there something else at play? "Green purchases are often motivated by status," says Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "People want to be seen as being altruistic. Nothing communicates that better than by buying green products that often cost more and are of lower quality but benefit the environment for everyone." In the recently published paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," Griskevicius and co-authors find that people will forgo luxury and comfort for a green item. The catch? People will forgo indulging for themselves only when others can see it. "Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," says Griskevicius. ...


"Competitive altruism" -- is that like aggressive kindness?

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Thu, Mar 11, 2010
from SolveClimate:
New Approach to Farming Could Help Solve Climate, Economic Crises
Discussions of climate change keep running head-long into a barrier: China, India, Brazil and the other countries of the global South need to develop. No leader of an underdeveloped country will ever agree to a climate change proposal that will take away that country's right to develop.... Meanwhile, first-world leaders, mired in economic crisis, can't make the long-run infrastructural investments that would enable them to take the technological lead in a low-carbon transformation -- let alone make the technology transfers or capital grants that are a moral and political imperative. But there's a partial way out of the crisis, or what the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has christened the "triple crunch," the intertwined crisis of climate crisis, systemic economic malaise, and oil depletion. The NEF argues that we need a new Green New Deal, culminating in a "great transition" to a new way of structuring production and consumption so as to re-create an ecology in homeostasis -- a sustainable economy, one that doesn't draw down impossible-to-renew natural resources. Food and agriculture will be central to such a transition... ...


As long as I don't have to get my hands dirty.

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Mon, Feb 15, 2010
from London Independent:
Seeds of discontent: the 'miracle' crop that has failed to deliver
A new 'ethical' biofuel is damaging the impoverished people it was supposed to help... Five years ago jatropha was hailed by investors and scientists as a breakthrough in the battle to find a biofuel alternative to fossil fuels that would not further impoverish developing countries by diverting resources away from food production. Jatropha was said to be resistant to drought and pests and able could grow on land that was unsuitable for food production. But researchers have found that it has increased poverty in countries including India and Tanzania. Millions of the plants have been grown in anticipation of rich returns, only for growers to be hit by poor yields, conflict over land and a lack of infrastructure to process the oil-rich seeds. ...


Jatropha, we hardly re-KNEW-able ya!

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Fri, Jan 29, 2010
from Mongabay:
Will it be possible to feed nine billion people sustainably?
Sometime around 2050 researchers estimate that the global population will level-out at nine billion people, adding over two billion more people to the planet. Since, one billion of the world's population (more than one in seven) are currently going hungry -- the largest number in all of history -- scientists are struggling with how, not only to feed those who are hungry today, but also the additional two billion that will soon grace our planet. ...


We can do it -- especially if we are willing to BE food.

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Thu, Jan 14, 2010
from SolveClimate:
Return to Small Farms Could Help Alleviate Social and Environmental Crises
Indeed, Altieri shows that on a per-hectare basis, small farms are able to strongly out-produce large ones. It's not the first time this claim has been made. The quick counter is that agricultural labor is onerous and backbreaking, that no one wishes to do it, that freeing up farm labor by using mechanical devices and chemical inputs allows former farmers to move into the cities, raising productivity, contributing more effectively to national GDP, and so on. That's a reasonable claim, except for the fact that there's now more available labor in the world than the world knows what to do with, so much so that much of the global South, its former peasantry, lives in dilapidated shanties on the peripheries of urban cores. ...


Farm? I'd rather profit from credit default swaps.

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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from Reuters:
U.S. cities spur bike use for climate, health
...According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, bike use in the city has more than doubled since 2005, a trend it attributes to higher gasoline prices, growing concern over climate change, creation of bike lanes, and what it calls a "growing urban bicycle culture." Throughout the nation, the number of people bicycling to work has increased 43 percent since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as more cities encourage residents to recognize the benefits of using their bikes for transportation. Among U.S. cities, Portland, Oregon showed the biggest gain, tripling its proportion of bike commuters between 2000 and 2008 to a nation-leading 6 percent. Seattle, Minneapolis and Sacramento also had relatively high rates. Philadelphia's rate rose to 1.6 this year from 1.2 percent in 2006. ...




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Mon, Dec 7, 2009
from Scientific American:
Lightweight 'triple-zero' house produces more energy than it uses
Overlooking the city of Stuttgart in southern Germany, a four-story modern glass house stands like a beacon of environmental sustainability. Built in 2000, it was the first in a series of buildings that are "triple-zero," a concept developed by German architect and engineer Werner Sobek, which signifies that the building is energy self-sufficient (zero energy consumed), produces zero emissions, and is made entirely of recyclable materials (zero waste). Since the construction of the first triple-zero home, Werner Sobek's firm of engineers and architects, based in Stuttgart, has designed and built five more in Germany, with a seventh planned in France. The energy used by these buildings, including the four-story tower where Sobek resides, comes from solar cells and geothermal heating. The most recent addition to the triple-zero series raises the bar for energy efficiency: It produces more energy than it uses... ...


If only the people inside would stop their ... personal emissions.

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Mon, Nov 23, 2009
from Fast Company:
GoodGuide iPhone App Scans Bar Codes for Environmental and Health Ratings
When I first learned about GoodGuide last March, I was excited at the prospect of a Web site that lets consumers get detailed environmental, health, and social info on more than 50,000 products and companies. Then came the obligatory iPhone app to let people quickly get the scoop on orange juice brands and cleaning supplies while standing in the supermarket. And now GoodGuide has announced its most exciting innovation yet: an updated iPhone app that scans barcodes for health and environmental ratings. The process is simple. You just hit the scan tab on the app, point the phone at a product's barcode, and voila, instant product ratings on baby shampoo, yogurt, and everything in between. So even the laziest among us have no excuse to slack on social responsibility. And did I mention that the app is free? ...


Now... when can we scan each other?

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Thu, Nov 12, 2009
from Georgia Institute of Technology, via EurekAlert:
Reducing greenhouse gases may not be enough to slow climate change
"Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole -- a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs -- like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress -- may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming." According to Stone's research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.... Stone recommends slowing what he terms the "green loss effect" through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. ...


Hot time, weather in the city, back of my neck's gettin' dirty and gritty.

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from Doc Jim:
From the ApocaDesk
Hundreds packed the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, Nov. 9, to listen to a "professional bummer-outer." Yes, that's what Bill McKibben called himself as he opened his talk.
    It was 20 years ago that McKibben published what is now considered the first general-reader book about climate change, The End of Nature. Yet, 20 years later, we are still in the pickle of a lifetime, on the brink of climate collapse for many species on the planet, including our own. It's easy to conclude, here on the eve of Copenhagen climate talks, that no progress has been made as our planet's peril becomes more irrefutable every day.
    McKibben, though, is fresh from the success of International Day of Climate Action Day, Oct. 24, instigated by his 350.org group, and is in no bummer-outer mode at all. International Day of Climate Action Day was a world-wide public protest/awareness-raising, that included 5200 actions on planet Earth, all pertaining to a single data point: 350 ppm.
    350 ppm is the level of CO2 emissions that our planet can handle -- without stirring up extreme weather patterns or disturbing the hydrologic cycle or causing mass extinction or massive climate migration, etc. You know, the kind of thing we ApocaDocs post every day.
    You know that we've already far exceeded 350; we're hovering around 390, in fact, but still, 182 countries were represented and McKibben's slideshow at IUPUI of the actions people made were poignant and inspiring. See www.350.org to see the photos. CNN called it the "most widespread day of political action in the planet's history."
   In his talk, McKibben walked us through a short history of consumerism, pointing out that 1956 was the peak year for people responding a survey that they were "very satisfied" with their lives. Now, that number is around one quarter of those surveyed. The reason for this deterioration of happiness is that we've lost our "web of connections." People cite "half the number of friends" that they used to have (and we're not counting the amorphous, quasi-fictional friends we have on Facebook).
    Over these 50 years, he says, "We've built bigger and bigger houses farther apart from each other," encouraging that lack of human contact. Meanwhile, the consumer lifestyle created by readily-available (and affordable) fossil fuels is beginning to run out. And the effects of global warming are now visible almost everywhere, from the melting arctic ice to the desertification of Australia.
McKibben says our average global temp has risen one degree -- many scientists believe we'll go up 4 or 5 degrees if we don't change, fast, and McKibben remarks "we don't want to know" what a world like that will be.
    To free ourselves from the trap of consumerism, we need to head in a "new direction"... that direction being how we deal with food. McKibben calls food "our basic economy" -- and points out that it's the resurgence of farmers markets that has created the context for people to interact again. Food, he points out, is usually a net gain when it comes to energy issues, but is definitely a plus when it comes to taste as well as the overall experience of buying locally-grown produce, conversing with farmers and growers, as well as other customers.
    Given McKibben's activism with Step It Up and now 350.org, this college prof and Sunday School teacher has moved far beyond his role as writer -- and bummer-outer. In fact, McKibben is one of the most vital voices we have, inciting us to think deeply about sustainability and how the "local" is linked to the "global." ...


McKibben McRocks!

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Sun, Nov 8, 2009
from Gibbs Smith:
From the ApocaDesk
Be the Change By Thomas Linzey with Anneke Campbell Gibbs Smith; $12.99 (2009)
This small, easy-to-finish-in-one-afternoon book may be the most inspiring thing you'll read all year. Be the Change is the story of Thomas Linzey and the growing grassroots movement of people taking back their communities from the corporations who seek to destroy them -- whether through contamination (mining, building quarries) or through theft of resources (aquifers). It is a movement that has no partisan pitch. It is your classic David vs. Goliath, and boy, are the Goliaths huge.
    Thwarted by our own U.S. Consitution "finding" that corporations having the standing as "persons," everyday citizens have repeatedly fought -- and lost -- the battle to keep CAFOs and mining companies from ruining their land. In Be the Change, Linzey and Campbell walk us through the success stories, while never sugar-coating the intense, harrowing process of organizing and sustaining a drive. We learn about the people of Blaine Township in Pennsylvania, who kept Consol Energy Company from mining coal in their community. We learn about the people of Nottingham, New Hampshire, who united to pass an ordinance to keep USA Springs from taking 430,000 gallons of water a day from their aquifer. And we are walked through Envision Spokane, an effort by citizens of an entire city to figure out how to determine their own fate by writing their Bill of Rights, stating, for example, "The natural environment has the right to exist and flourish."
    Over the course of this book, Linzey and Campbell remind us that the root question is asking yourself: "What kind of community do you want to live in?" Rather than getting into a room with regulators and politicians and trying to minimize the damage that a corporation wants to do, assert your rights as citizens to make the decisions you think are in the best interest of your community. Isn't that the Democracy we are taught to believe in? Instead, we get what Linzey calls "the illusion of Democracy." He emphasizes in workshops and speeches -- I myself have heard him speak in California and Indiana -- that the minute you get into a room with the power elite, you've lost. Define the vision of your community, then figure out how to rewrite the existing laws and ordinances in your world, aided by Linzey's Democracy School workshop. Then dig in and get your fellow citizens on board. Build a movement. Rise up.
    Does it work? There are many instances in this book where it does, and in 2008 an entire country did it! In 2008, Ecuador rewrote their constitution to invoke the rights of nature as transcendent over the rights of corporations. Who helped them do that? Thomas Linzey. In the end, the authors stress, it's not about stopping mining or polluting or the theft of your resources, it's about who gets to decide. Corporations and politicians? Or people. If you agree it's people, then Be the Change can jumpstart your own, homespun revolution.
    So for that gloom-and-doom Apocalypse acolyte in your family or subculture, you can do no better than handing them Be the Change and tell them to quit bitchin' -- and get to work. Be the Change can be purchased in all the usual places. For more on Linzey, see www.celdf.org. ...


Holiday gift ideas from the ApocaDocs!

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Sun, Nov 8, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Studies 'overstate species risks'
They said models that analyse vast areas often failed to take into account local variations, such as topography and microclimates. Local-scale simulations, which did include these factors, often delivered a more optimistic outlook, they added. The findings have been published in the journal, Science.... However, they added that the overall picture for biodiversity loss was still bleak, especially once the rate of habitat loss and fragmentation was taken into account. "Predicting the fate of biodiversity in response to climate change combined with habitat fragmentation is a serious undertaking fraught with caveats and complexities," they observed. ...


Soon to come: "biodiversity loss deniers."

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009
from Daily Climate:
A day built around a data point goes viral
Author Bill McKibben never saw this coming. Founder of 350.org, an environmental campaign aimed at holding atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts-per-million, McKibben set this Saturday as the day to take to the streets. The call went viral in ways far beyond anything McKibben and fellow organizers imagined: As of Thursday morning some 4,227 actions and rallies are planned in 170 countries, with 300 events in China, 1500 across the United States, 500-plus in Central and South America. Organizers credit the increasing inter-connectedness of Web, cellular and social networks for the spread, saying such random and organic growth would have been impossible even two years ago. "This is the one most important number in the world right now," McKibben said in an interview. "It's the one number that applies as absolutely in the Maldives as in Manhattan. It somehow has worked its magic." ...


What a difference a day -- and a data point -- makes!

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Tue, Oct 20, 2009
from University of Adelaide via ScienceDaily:
Conservation: Minimum Population Size Targets Too Low To Prevent Extinction?
Conservation biologists are setting their minimum population size targets too low to prevent extinction. That's according to a new study by University of Adelaide and Macquarie University scientists which has shown that populations of endangered species are unlikely to persist in the face of global climate change and habitat loss unless they number around 5000 mature individuals or more....Conservation biologists worldwide are battling to prevent a mass extinction event in the face of a growing human population and its associated impact on the planet. ...


Can we pleeeeze not use the word "targets" in these kinds of stories?

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Sun, Sep 20, 2009
from University of Exeter via ScienceDaily:
Impact Of Renewable Energy On Our Oceans Must Be Investigated, Say Scientists
Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth are calling for urgent research to understand the impact of renewable energy developments on marine life. The study, now published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, highlights potential environmental benefits and threats resulting from marine renewable energy, such as off-shore wind farms and wave and tidal energy conversion devices. The research highlights the capacity for marine renewable energy devices to boost local biodiversity and benefit the wider marine environment. Man-made structures on the sea bed attract many marine organisms and sometimes become 'artificial reefs', for example, supporting a wide variety of fish. The study also points out that such devices could have negative environmental impacts, resulting from habitat loss, collision risks, noise and electromagnetic fields. ...


I presume a simple "Keep Out" sign is out of the question.

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Tue, Sep 15, 2009
from Washington Post:
When It Comes to Pollution, Less (Kids) May Be More
To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us. As in babies. New people. Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions. The activist group that sponsored the report says birth control could be one of the world's best tools for fighting climate change. By preventing the creation of new polluters, the group says, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. ...


As long as people don't leave those dang rubbers lying around everywhere!

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Tue, Sep 15, 2009
from Yale Environment 360:
Green Intelligence: Toward True Ecological Transparency
Wal-Mart has handed the environmental movement a new tool for ameliorating the human footprint: using an emerging generation of information systems to create market pressures to upgrade the ecological performance of commerce and industry. This strategy entails making life-cycle-assessment data for products transparent -- that is, labeling them with a sound, independent rating so shoppers can easily take the ecological impacts into account as they decide what to buy. Indeed, the Wal-Mart announcement has thrust what once seemed merely an intriguing idea into a market reality companies will have to deal with -- not just in tomorrow's strategic plans, but in today's logistics and operations. Wal-Mart's 100,000-plus suppliers (and the likes of Procter & Gamble counts as just one) will be required to reveal their products' ecological impacts or have them dropped from the retailer's stores worldwide. ...


Just as long as they keep using the smiley face, I'm okay with it.

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Sat, Sep 12, 2009
from Huffington Post:
No Impact Man: The Movie Everyone Is Talking About
Colin Beavan decides to completely eliminate his personal impact on the environment for the next year. It means eating vegetarian, buying only local food, and turning off the refrigerator. It also means no elevators, no television, no cars, buses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption, and no garbage. No problem -- at least for Colin -- but he and his family live in Manhattan. So when his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two-year-old daughter are dragged into the fray, the No Impact Project has an unforeseen impact of its own. ...


How can the economy recover without impact?

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Sat, Sep 5, 2009
from Mongabay:
Investing in conservation could save global economy trillions of dollars annually
By investing billions in conserving natural areas now, governments could save trillions every year in ecosystem services, such as natural carbon sinks to fight climate change, according to a European report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). As reported by Reuters, a one time investment of 45 billion dollars in protected areas the global economy could save ecosystem services worth 4.5-5.2 trillion annually, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, adding that this was more than the value of the global car, steel and information technology sectors. ...


That's kind of risky. I'll stick with credit default swaps.

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Sat, Sep 5, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
France to set carbon tax at 14 Euros a tonne
The French government is poised to introduce a carbon tax of 14 euros a tonne from next year, brushing aside concerns that unilateral emission taxes could force carbon-intensive businesses to leave the country. In an interview with Le Figaro magazine to be published tomorrow, prime minister Francois Fillon said the government would introduce the tax at a level in line with the current carbon market price of 14 euros a tonne before increasing it over time.... The announcement sparked immediate protests from motorists and haulage firms, but Fillon said that measures would be undertaken to protect businesses and poorer families from the impact of the tax.... "I assure you there will be no increase in the obligatory taxes," he said. "The carbon tax is about transferring taxation, it is not a new tax." ...


Ah, Francois, I kees you on both cheeks!

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Thu, Aug 27, 2009
from London Times:
Synthetic trees and algae can counter climate change, say engineers
Giant fly-swat shaped "synthetic trees" line the road into the office, where blooms of algae grow in tubes up the walls and the roof reflects heat back into the sky -- all reducing the effects of global warming. All this could be a familiar sight within the next two decades, under proposals devised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to alter the world's climate with new technology. A day after John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Secretary, warned that negotiations for a global deal to cut carbon emissions were in danger of collapsing, the institution is recommending a series of technical fixes to "buy time" to avert dangerous levels of climate change. It says that the most promising solution is offered by artificial trees, devices that collect CO2 through their "leaves" and convert it to a form that can easily be collected and stored. ...


Gee, while we're at it, can we make these trees able to walk and talk, too?

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Tue, Aug 25, 2009
from 350.org:
Top UN Scientist Endorses 350!
By Bill McKibben... We've had many breakthroughs in the 350 campaign in the last 18 months, but maybe none as important as today. Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N's top climate scientist, said in an interview today that 350 was the bottom line for the planet. Here's the background--the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which Pachauri heads, is responsible for advising the world's governments on climate change. The IPCC's last report, which came out in the winter of 2007, didn't actually set a target for CO2, but it was widely interpreted as backing a goal of 450 ppm CO2. ...


I'm going to get a carbon-neutral dog and name him 350!

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Sat, Aug 22, 2009
from New York Times:
In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand
...Deforestation, a critical contributor to climate change, effectively accounts for 20 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent of the emissions in Brazil. Halting new deforestation, experts say, is as powerful a way to combat warming as closing the world’s coal plants. But until now, there has been no financial reward for keeping forest standing. Which is why a growing number of scientists, politicians and environmentalists argue that cash payments ... are the only way to end tropical forest destruction and provide a game-changing strategy in efforts to limit global warming. ...


Then money DOES grow on trees!

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Fri, Aug 21, 2009
from Der Spiegel:
Germany Turns On World's Biggest Solar Power Project
This week, two of Germany's most important solar energy projects came online -- the second biggest solar power project in the world and one of the first solar thermal "power towers." The projects are part of the country's plan to provide 20 percent of its energy through renewable sources. Officials flicked on the switch at two of Germany's most important new solar energy sites on Thursday. In the eastern state of Brandenburg, the world's second-largest solar energy project went online. And halfway across the country, in North Rhine-Westphalia, a smaller scale but perhaps equally important facility launched -- Germany's first solar-thermal power plant. ...


And I say... it's all right!

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Wed, Aug 19, 2009
from BBC:
Bolivians look to ancient farming
Poor farmers in the heart of Bolivia's Amazon are being encouraged to embrace the annual floods - by using a centuries-old irrigation system for their crops. They are experimenting with a sustainable way of growing food crops that their ancestors used. It could provide them with better protection against the extremes of climate change, reduce deforestation, improve food security and even promise a better diet.... About 400 families are now enrolled in the project in five locations, growing mainly maize, cassava and rice. Many of the sites are still in an experimental phase, but the early signs are promising. Productivity appears to be on the increase. ...


If only they could get state-of-the-art robots to do the work for them!

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Tue, Aug 18, 2009
from Science Daily:
'Killer Spices' Provide Eco-friendly Pesticides For Organic Fruits And Veggies
Mention rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint and most people think of a delicious meal. Think bigger ... acres bigger. These well-known spices are now becoming organic agriculture's key weapons against insect pests as the industry tries to satisfy demands for fruits and veggies among the growing portion of consumers who want food produced in more natural ways.... [S]cientists in Canada are reporting exciting new research on these so-called "essential oil pesticides" or "killer spices."... Some spiced-based commercial products now being used by farmers have already shown success in protecting organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops against destructive aphids and mites, the researcher says. ...


Best of all, no dressing needed for your salad!

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Fri, Jul 24, 2009
from via Guardian (UK):
One (video) Minute to Save the World
A short film competition on climate change, open to the world and for the world to watch. The story of climate change will be told by the people it is affecting -- you. We hope that your shared perspectives and creative responses will help us all understand, adapt and take action in response to a rapidly changing world. We want the world to see your 1 minute film.... We're asking you to use whatever means you have to film your short and use your minute to speak up and make the world listen. It's time to get personal and we need your help! We hope you will feel inspired to add your creative voice to this global climate campaign. ...


Isn't this perilously close to mobilization?

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from Haaretz:
Israeli study sees link between oral cancer, cell phones
A recent study documents a sharp rise in the incidence of salivary gland cancer in Israel that researchers believe may be linked to the use of mobile phones. The study was commissioned by the Israel Dental Association and directed by Avi Zini of the community dentistry department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. The study included examination of the incidence of oral cavity cancers in Israel from 1970 to 2006. Among salivary gland cancer cases, researchers found a worrying rise in the number of cases of malignant growth in parotid glands - the salivary gland located under the ear, near the location where cell phones are held during conversations. ...


Shall we rename 'em cancer cell phones?

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Thu, Jul 16, 2009
from New York Times:
At Wal-Mart, Labeling to Reflect Green Intent
Shoppers expect the tags on Wal-Mart items to have rock-bottom prices. In the future they may also have information about the product's carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake. As the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores is on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of every item it puts on its shelves. And it has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create an electronic indexing system to do that. The idea is to create a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are over the course of their lives. Consider it the green equivalent to nutrition labels. ...


Somebody pinch me... am I dreaming?

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Sat, Jul 11, 2009
from Portland Oregonian:
Oregon opens the tap wider for recycling gray water as demand grows, supplies wane
Oregonians have long recycled bottles, paper and cans. But now water? Yes, the estimated 40 gallons a day per person that drains from the shower, kitchen sink, washing machine. It is known as gray water, and all of it could water the lawn, the vegetable garden -- or go into the toilet tank for a "free" flush. That's if Oregon, which faces a population surge in a time of uncertain water supplies, follows the example of water-starved cities such as Tucson, Ariz., which requires many new structures to be plumbed to make use of gray water. ...


If only there was a more poetic term for "gray water"... muted silver water? smoky slate water?

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Sat, Jun 20, 2009
from IRIN News (UN):
Uganda: Food crisis feared as subsistence farmers sell produce
Food shortages in parts of Uganda are approaching crisis level after subsistence farmers sold their produce for cash, officials said on 18 June. The government has made immediate food relief distributions in the most affected areas. "We are still assessing the situation, but initial indications point to an acute food shortage and [the] government has resorted to immediate food relief distribution, earmarking 10 billion shillings [US $5 million] to purchase food for those areas that are in bad shape," Tarsis Kabwegyere, the disaster preparedness minister, said.... "Our problem has been the long [dry] spell that has burnt down crops planted this season," Esther Oboma, a returnee at Bibia village, said. "It's worrying because most crops have dried up; all my groundnuts, maize, beans and millet are all stunted." ...


That's what Donald Trump told us: cash is king in a recession.

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Wed, Jun 17, 2009
from New York Times:
Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun
...City dwellers have long cultivated pots of tomatoes on top of their buildings. But farming in the sky is a fairly recent development in the green roof movement, in which owners have been encouraged to replace blacktop with plants, often just carpets of succulents, to cut down on storm runoff, insulate buildings and moderate urban heat. A survey by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which represents companies that create green roofs, found the number of projects its members had worked on in the United States grew by more than 35 percent last year. In total, the green roofs installed last year cover 6 million to 10 million square feet, the group said. ...


What's next? Green roofs on cars?

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Mon, Jun 15, 2009
from Wall Street Journal:
Before Adding, Try Reducing
The U.S. government is committing billions of dollars to support renewable energy such as wind- and solar-power plants. Some say it should use more of that financial clout to encourage less energy consumption in the first place. Advocates of conservation, including businesses that help homeowners and companies save energy, think there should be more subsidies and tax incentives for basics like insulation and window shading, and for newer, more costly products like light-emitting-diode lamps and building-automation systems. LEDs cost more but use less energy than incandescent bulbs. The new automation systems help buildings waste less energy on cooling, heating and lighting. Projects that improve efficiency pay for themselves quickly, the advocates say, and help people and businesses save money. Renewables, meanwhile, cost more money to achieve the same reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions. ...


What do these smartypants think is going to be gained by using common sense?

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Sun, Jun 14, 2009
from Economist:
Flying for ever
...Solar-powered aircraft have flown before. The pioneer was Paul MacCready, whose Gossamer Penguin made the first manned flight in 1980 in California, with his then 13-year-old son at the controls. A derivative, Solar Challenger, crossed the English Channel in 1981. But nothing like HB-SIA, as the Swiss aircraft is known, has ever taken to the air. If it works as expected, another version will be built and this will take off, climb to 10,000 metres and, by storing some of the electricity generated during the day, continue flying through the night. Its pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, plan to cross the Atlantic in it and later to fly it around the world.... The wings of this aircraft are almost as big as those of an airliner, but they are covered in a film of solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity to drive its engines. ...


Just so the cells aren't affixed with wax!

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Thu, Jun 11, 2009
from London Guardian:
US wind farms face lack of fuel
The great gusting winds of the Midwest may be dying, and with them hope for America's most promising source of green energy, according to a new report. A study to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research suggests average and peak winds may have been slowing across the Midwest and eastern states since 1973. The findings are preliminary, but measurements by wind towers raise the possibility of yet another side effect of global warming.... Areas of the Midwest have seen a 10 percent drop in wind speed over the decade. Some places have seen a jump in days where there was none at all. Takle said climate modelling suggested a further 10 percent dip may occur over the next 40 years. ...


Come on, people! Get out there and flap your arms!

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Tue, Jun 9, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Biomimicry: why the world is full of intelligent design
We humans like to think we're pretty good at design and technology – but we often forget that Mother Nature had a head start of 3.6 million years. Now, the way that geckoes climb walls, or hummingbirds hover, is at the centre of a burgeoning industry: biomimicry, the science of "reverse-engineering" clever ideas from the natural world....biomimicry is becoming fashionable. "Imitating natural systems is about trying to mimic the amazing effectiveness of ecosystems, where the waste from one system or animal is used as the nutrients for another," says Michael Pawlyn, the director of a sustainable architecture firm and one of the designers of the Eden Project in Cornwall. "Often, by applying ideas from ecosystems you can turn problems into solutions that are better both environmentally and commercially." ...


We're the eco-copycats!

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Mon, Jun 8, 2009
from Technology Review:
Roll-Up Solar Panels
Xunlight, a startup in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels. It has developed a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique that forms thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells on thin sheets of stainless steel. Each solar module is about one meter wide and five and a half meters long. As opposed to conventional silicon solar panels, which are bulky and rigid, these lightweight, flexible sheets could easily be integrated into roofs and building facades or on vehicles. Such systems could be more attractive than conventional solar panels and be incorporated more easily into irregular roof designs. They could also be rolled up and carried in a backpack, says the company's cofounder and president, Xunming Deng. "You could take it with you and charge your laptop battery," he says. ...


Better efficiency than asphalt shingles, at least!

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Sat, May 9, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
Another Blow to Ethanol: Biolectricity Is Greener
Once touted as an environmental and economic cure-all, corn ethanol has had a rough year. The collapse in grain and oil prices, preceded by overinvestment in refineries over the past few years, badly hurt ethanol producers. Meanwhile, environmentalists have steadily chipped away at ethanol's green credentials. Far from being better for the planet than gasoline, many scientists now argue that ethanol actually has a sizable carbon footprint, because when farmers in the U.S. use their land to grow corn for fuel rather than food, farmers in the developing world end up cutting down more forests to pick up the slack. Now a new study makes the case that ethanol isn't even the greenest way to use biomass as a fuel. In an article published in the May 8 issue of Science, researchers from the Carnegie Institution, Stanford University and the University of California-Merced (UCM) used life-cycle analysis — which takes into account the entire impact of a biofuel from field to vehicle — to show that converting biomass to electricity (to power electric cars) produces 80 percent more transportation energy than turning it into ethanol (to power a flex-fuel car), with a carbon footprint that is half as small. ...


Perhaps corn can back to doing what it does best: make corn syrup!

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Sat, Apr 25, 2009
from Chester Chronicle:
Chester scientist believes the power of poo will save the planet
A SCIENTIST is hoping to save the planet with poo. Research scientist Ruyi Hu, 24, from Chester, is at the cutting edge of experimental technologies with the potential to cut thousands of tons of carbon emissions and save millions of pounds. His work on Inverted Phase Fermentation might be a conversation killer at dinner parties but could enable the billions of litres of waste water generated in the North West every year to be treated in a much more environmentally friendly way. ...


I always thought it would be tigger who saved the planet.

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Tue, Apr 14, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
"Kyoto box" wins startup funding
A box designed to improve the efficiency of using firewood to boil water in developing countries won $75,000 in funding from sustainable development charity Forum for the Future last week. The Kyoto Box -- which costs about 5 euros to make -- uses a greenhouse effect to boil 10 litres of water in two hours, far more efficient than a standard fire. Kenya-based entrepreneur Jon Bohmer of startup Kyoto Energy said the box is targeted at the three billion people who use firewood to cook and has the potential to deliver huge environmental and social benefits. "We're saving lives and saving trees," he said. "I doubt if there is any other technology that can make so much impact for so little money." ...


The "greenhouse effect" for good, rather than evil!

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Sat, Apr 11, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Galaxy chocolate bars to be made with sustainably sourced cocoa by 2010
Around 160 million bars of the chocolate -- Mars' biggest seller in the UK -- will carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified trademark seal by next year, the company said. The move is part of a larger commitment by Mars to certify its entire cocoa supply as sustainably sourced by 2020.... In 2008, Mars Drinks achieved Rainforest Alliance certification for three Flavia coffee offerings. Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research at Mars, said: "Rainforest Alliance certification will make a positive difference for everyone involved from cocoa farmer to chocolate bar. ...


By 2010? I guess there is hope after all!

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Sat, Apr 11, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Organic farmers feel the squeeze
At least two organic farmers a week are leaving the movement as consumer demand for premium food stagnates and costs rise. As evidence emerges that the organic revolution has stalled in the face of rising food prices and job uncertainty, the industry's two biggest certification bodies have told the Guardian that a total of at least eight members each month are quitting their schemes. In addition, the National Farmers' Union said, "a small number at breaking point" wanted to leave but could not, because they had converted less than five years ago and would have to pay back all the subsidies they had received. ...


I like cheap everything. It reminds me of back when we didn't know better.

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Mon, Apr 6, 2009
from New Scientist:
Bug eats electricity, farts biogas
...An intriguing new idea involves "feeding" surplus power to the microorganisms instead, which combine it with carbon dioxide to create methane. That could then be stored and burned when needed. The method is sustainable too, as the carbon is taken from the atmosphere, not released from long-term storage in oil or coal... The new method relies on a microorganism studied by Bruce Logan's team at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. When living on the cathode of an electrolytic cell, the organism can take in electrons and use their energy to convert carbon dioxide into methane... If the CO2 used to make the methane was captured from the flue pipes of power stations or even -- using more complex methods -- from the open air, the methane would become a carbon-neutral fuel. ...


These microorganisms are called "barking spiders."

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from US News and World Report:
6 Scientists on the Cutting Edge of Energy and Environmental Research
Donald J. Hammerstrom envisions a day when every electrical appliance is wise to what's happening on the far side of the wall socket. The inexpensive device he and his Pacific Northwest National Laboratory colleagues in Richland, Wash., have developed, dubbed the Grid Friendly Appliance Controller, is designed to reduce reliance on backup generators and prevent power outages that can occur when the electrical grid suffers momentary capacity problems. The controller, which he says could be built into a water heater, clothes dryer, or other energy-hungry appliance for $5 or less, recognizes when telltale fluctuations in the current flowing through the socket indicate that the grid is straining to meet demand. The controller's response: briefly scale back the appliance's electricity use. That move, if multiplied by many appliances in thousands of homes and buildings, would be enough to relieve the strain on the grid, potentially averting a blackout. The grid would also need less 24-7 standby capacity (read, wastefully idling generators) to buffer the occasional unexpected fluctuation in electrical supply or demand. ...


It better not know everything going on, on the far side of that wall socket!

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from Associated Press:
New Hampshire issues first climate plan
New Hampshire's first climate action plan calls for "a new way of living," beginning immediately, to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming -- and preparing the state for the warming the authors say is already under way. Recommendations range from making buildings more energy efficient to expanding public transportation systems and bike lanes as well as building transmission lines to bring hydroelectric and wind power from Canada. "Future economic growth in New Hampshire as well as mitigation of and adaptation to a changing climate will depend on how quickly we transition to a new way of living" based on increasing energy efficiency, using more renewable energy and driving less, the report said. ...


Live Green or Die.

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Fri, Mar 27, 2009
from Amandala (Belize):
Cherishing Belize's fisheries
Officials of the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based NGO with an international network, hosted a presentation and discussion Wednesday morning at the training room of the Coastal Zone Management Authority's office in Belize City to talk about a program they are implementing in Belize. The program involves a concept known as “catch shares,” which the group describes as an incentive-based management of fisheries.... Sustainable management of fisheries works better if the interests of government and fishermen are aligned towards sustainability for both parties, Bonzon said.... She demonstrated (using a PowerPoint presentation) that when catch shares are implemented (1) over-fishing stops, (2) wastage or the taking of unnecessary by-catch declines, and (3) revenues to fishermen increase remarkably by as much as 170 percent in the fifth year of implementation. ...


This cooperation smacks of socialism. How is it possible that everyone benefits?

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Sun, Mar 22, 2009
from New York Times:
Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?
... After being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply. The most vocal booster so far has been the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has emphasized the need for fresh, unprocessed, locally grown food and, last week, started work on a White House vegetable garden. More surprising, perhaps, are the pronouncements out of the Department of Agriculture, an agency with long and close ties to agribusiness. In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic “people’s garden.” Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Mr. Vilsack’s top deputy. ...


A "receptive ear"... My, that does sound tasty!

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Fri, Mar 13, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
US commits to renewable development
The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced plans to make the development of renewable energy a central priority of the organisation. In a statement issued this week, secretary of the interior Ken Salazar said he had issued a secretarial order to promote the creation of solar, geothermal and wind energy projects on the one fifth of the country's landmass managed by the department.... According to the DOI, it... has identified about 21 million acres of public land with wind energy potential in western states, and about 29 million acres with solar energy potential in southwestern states. The organisation added that there are also about 140 million acres of public land in western states and Alaska that could be used for geothermal energy. ...


Sing it: that land is your land, that land is my land...

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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
from Christian Science Monitor:
Colleges wean off fossil fuels
More and more, colleges and universities are not only teaching about environmental issues, they’re “walking the walk” by changing they way they operate. In December 2006, 12 college and university presidents joined together to form the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. They pledged to set target dates for becoming carbon neutral – reducing the carbon emissions from their heating, cooling, electrical, and transportation needs as much as possible and then buying carbon offsets to complete the task. A little more than two years later, 614 colleges and universities in all 50 states have made the commitment. They represent about one-third of the student body at colleges and universities in the United States. ...


At my frat we pump our own kegs!

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Mon, Mar 9, 2009
from Forbes:
Small-scale, cheap solar
BURLINGAME, CALIF.--Imagine a solar panel as affordable as a fancy new bicycle. A panel designed so simply that you can install one (or more) yourself, just outside your windows, in the course of an afternoon. That's the concept behind Oakland, Calif.-based Veranda Solar, a start-up founded last year by Capra J'neva and Emilie Fetscher, recent graduates of the product design program at Stanford University. J'neva and Fetscher dreamed up attractive, flower-shaped solar panels as part of their master's project at the design school. "We created a starter solar system that expands as your budget does," J'neva says. Their plan is to sell Veranda panels at roughly $600 each later this year, provided it raises more funding. The panels snap together, so people will be able to buy just one to start and add more later on if they like. The solar inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) electricity from the panels to alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in the electric grid, plugs right into a wall socket. ...


Every house a generator -- every human a king.

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Sun, Mar 8, 2009
from Mother Jones:
Spoiled: Organic and Local Is So 2008
Many of the familiar models don't work well on the scale required to feed billions of people. Or they focus too narrowly on one issue (salad greens that are organic but picked by exploited workers). Or they work only in limited circumstances. (A $4 heirloom tomato is hardly going to save the world.)... Organizations such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (which despite its namesake is a real leader in food reform) have long insisted that truly sustainable food must be not just ecologically benign, but also nutritious, produced without injustice, and affordable.... Using the definition of sustainability above, about 2 percent of the food purchased in the United States qualifies. Put another way, we're going to need not only new methods for producing food, but a whole new set of assumptions about what sustainability really means.... And for all our focus on the cost of moving food, transportation accounts for barely one-tenth of a food product's greenhouse gas emissions. Far more significant is how the food was produced—its so-called resource intensity. Certain foods, like meat and cheese, suck up so many resources regardless of where they're produced (a pound of conventional grain-fed beef requires nearly a gallon of fuel and 5,169 gallons of water) that you can shrink your footprint far more by changing what you eat, rather than where the food came from. According to a 2008 report from Carnegie Mellon University, going meat- and dairyless one day a week is more environmentally beneficial than eating locally every single day. ...


Wait... it's not just simply "organic or not"? I mean -- isn't "paper or plastic" simple?

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Tue, Mar 3, 2009
from Chicago Tribune:
Going green: Entire Swedish city switches to biofuels to become environmentally friendly
KALMAR, Sweden -- Though a fraction of Chicago's size, this industrial city in southeast Sweden has plenty of similarities with it, including a long, snowy winter and a football team the town's crazy about. One thing is dramatically different about Kalmar, however: It is on the verge of eliminating the use of fossil fuels, for good, and with minimal effect on its standard of living. The city of 60,000 -- and its surrounding 12-town region, with a quarter-million people -- has traded in most of its oil, gas and electric furnaces for community "district heat," produced at plants that burn sawdust and wood waste left by timber companies. Hydropower, nuclear power and windmills now provide more than 90 percent of the region's electricity.... Just as important, the switch from oil and gas is helping slash fuel bills and preserve jobs in a worldwide economic downturn. And despite dramatic drops in fossil fuel consumption, residents say nobody has been forced to give up the car or huddle around the dining table wearing three sweaters to stay warm. ...


I'll bet they have great sex, too.

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Sat, Feb 28, 2009
from New York Times:
Obama's Greenhouse Gas Gamble
In proposing mandatory caps on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming and a system for auctioning permits to companies that emit them, President Obama is taking on a huge political and economic challenge. Business lobbies and many Republicans raised loud objections to the cap-and-trade program Mr. Obama proposed as part of his budget this week, saying the plan amounted to a gigantic and permanent tax on oil, electricity and manufactured goods, a shock they said the country could not handle during economic distress.... "Let’s just be honest and call it a carbon tax that will increase taxes on all Americans who drive a car, who have a job, who turn on a light switch, pure and simple," said John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader. "And if you look at this whole budget plan, they use this carbon tax as a way to fund all of their big government ideas." ... "It's a coal state stickup," ... ...


How 'bout we call it a survival tax, eh?

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Sat, Feb 28, 2009
from University of Alberta, via ScienceDaily:
Solar Energy Performance With Plastic Solar Cells Improved With New Method
The University of Alberta and the National Research Council's National Institute (NINT) for Nanotechnology have engineered an approach that is leading to improved performance of plastic solar cells (hybrid organic solar cells). The development of inexpensive, mass-produced plastic solar panels is a goal of intense interest for many of the world's scientists and engineers because of the high cost and shortage of the ultra-high purity silicon and other materials normally required.... "[A metaphor might be] a clubhouse sandwich, with many different layers. One layer absorbs the light, another helps to generate the electricity, and others help to draw the electricity out of the device. Normally, the layers don't stick well, and so the electricity ends up stuck and never gets out, leading to inefficient devices. We are working on the mayonnaise, the mustard, the butter and other 'special sauces' that bring the sandwich together, and make each of the layers work together. That makes a better sandwich, and makes a better solar cell, in our case".... After two years of research, these U of A and NINT scientists have, by only working on one part of the sandwich, seen improvements of about 30 per cent in the efficiency of the working model.... The team estimates it will be five to seven years before plastic solar panels will be mass produced but Buriak adds that when it happens solar energy will be available to everyone. She says the next generation of solar technology belongs to plastic. "Plastic solar cell material will be made cheaply and quickly and in massive quantities by ink jet-like printers." ...


For some reason this story is making me hungry for mass-produced plastic.

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Sat, Feb 28, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
Aquamarine Power touts 'biggest deal in the history of marine energy'
Fresh from securing "the biggest deal in the history of marine energy" with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), wave and tidal power specialist Aquamarine Power is in talks to agree similar supply deals with utilities in Ireland and Portugal. Earlier this week, the company signed a major alliance with SSE's renewables division Airtricity that could see the developer of tidal and wave energy systems provide the company with up to one gigawatt of marine energy by 2020. Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will launch a 50:50 joint venture that will work to gain consent for wave and tidal energy sites in the UK and Ireland. ...


Can a rising tide lift all floats?

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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
from Associated Press:
Chicago touts environmental efforts
Plants cool 3 million square feet of rooftops throughout the city. Wind, hydropower and biofuels provide one-fifth of its energy. And last year, the mayor announced one of the country's most ambitious plans to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. So when Chicago promises to host the greenest Summer Olympics ever if it's awarded the 2016 games, organizers say it's not a gimmick. It's an extension of efforts that have been transforming this former Rust Belt city for years. "We've got a real opportunity to take the best aspects of our city, the parks, the lakefront and the environmentalism and bring a real asset to the table," Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. "It's certainly one of the great strengths of the city of Chicago that we have to offer." In Chicago's official Olympic bid book, released earlier this month, organizers tout a low-carbon "blue-green" event, with most venues along Lake Michigan, which is lined with parks, and a focus on environmentalism. Regardless of whether Chicago gets the Olympics, Mayor Richard M. Daley says he'll continue to focus on a goal he set a long time ago: to make his city the greenest in the United States. "When I started planting trees they thought it was a waste of money," Daley said during an interview at his City Hall office. "We started planting a green roof. They said, 'Oh, this is silly. What are we doing that for?'" ...


It better be green, or they'll be calling the Olympics the Respiratory Failure Sporting Event.

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Sun, Feb 22, 2009
from Newsweek:
Greenest Nation
This is a trick question. What big country is, by most measures, greener than Japan and Germany and produces more geothermal energy than all of Europe combined? It might help to know that this nation is also a pioneer in environmental stewardship, having passed many of the world's toughest regulations on vehicle emissions, energy efficiency and nature conservation.... California, with its 37 million people, emits 20 percent less CO2 per dollar of GDP than Germany. It generates 24 percent of its electrical power from renewable fuels like wind and solar, compared with only 15 percent in Germany and 11 percent in Japan. It also has the world's largest solar-power plant (550 megawatts in the Mojave Desert), the largest wind farm (7,000 turbines at Altamont Pass) and the most powerful geothermal installation (750 megawatts at The Geysers north of San Francisco). Although California isn't immune to the economic crisis -- its finances are on the brink of collapse, which could translate into growing support for those who argue that green measures cost jobs -- its green accomplishments put it at the head of the pack. If California were a country, its economy would rank as the world's 10th largest and could lay claim to be one of the world's greenest. ...


Eureka! MEreka! Us...reka...

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Fri, Feb 20, 2009
from Michigan Technical University, via EurekAlert:
Abandon hope
Do you "hope" that everyone will see the light and start living more sustainably to save the environment? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.... For decades, say Vucetich and Nelson, we have been hammered by the ceaseless thunder of messages predicting imminent environmental cataclysm: global climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat, holes in the ozone. The response of environmentalists—from Al Gore to Jane Goodall—to this persistent message of hopelessness has focused on the need to remain hopeful. But hope may actually be counter-productive, Vucetich and Nelson suggest. "I have little reason to live sustainably if the only reason to do so is to hope for a sustainable future, because every other message I receive suggests that disaster is guaranteed," they explain. People are hearing radically contradictory messages:
  • Scientists present evidence that profound environmental disaster is imminent.
  • It is urgent to live up to an extremely high standard of sustainable living.
  • The reason to live sustainably is that doing so gives hope for averting disaster.
  • Yet disaster is inevitable....
"Instead of hope, we need to provide young people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective," they say. "We need to lift up examples of sustainable living motivated by virtue more than by a dubious belief that such actions will avert environmental disaster." ...


I hope we can abandon hope. At least, I hope I think so. Or think I hope so.

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from Washington University, via Eurek:
Biologist discusses sacred nature of sustainability
Like all religious traditions, religious naturalism is anchored in a cosmological narrative, a set of stories accounting how the earth and its inhabitants came to be. While conventional religions are generally based on older cosmological narratives such as those found in the Old and New Testaments, religious naturalism is based on a much more recent narrative.... She explains, "In more and more mainstream religions, you're seeing an increased emphasis on the earth and its creatures as sacred." This paradigm shift is due, at least in part, to a growing awareness that the old stories might not be sufficient to frame an ethic that alters the environment's current trajectory. She suggests that the new story offers a basis for understanding what a sustainable trajectory might look like. ...


Sustainability by any other name ["Creation Care," "ecomorality," "common sense"] still smells like sweet survival.

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Tue, Feb 3, 2009
from CNN Money:
Wind jobs outstrip coal mining jobs
Here's a talking point in the green jobs debate: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States. Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70 percent increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, coal mining employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it's down by nearly 50 percent since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades. ...


Does that mean sustainability is winning?

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Tue, Feb 3, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Britain 'must revive farms' to avoid grave food crisis
Britain faces a major food crisis unless urgent steps are taken to revive its flagging agricultural sector, warns one of the world's most influential thinktanks.... The thinktank on international affairs also claims the UK's consumers must expect to pay significantly more for their food if they want the country to develop a long-term sustainable food policy.... [T]he report's authors quote experts in the food supply chain who believe the prospect of the UK being hit by a crisis is "highly likely". The report claims: "What we had thought of as abundant food supply is anything but. Western societies, in particular, have tended to take their food supply for granted. The global system will reach breaking point unless action is taken." ...


Victory gardens, anyone?

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Sat, Jan 31, 2009
from New York Times:
Praise the Lord and Green the Roof
...In setting out to construct an environmentally advanced building to replace the trio of connected brownstones that they now call home, the Episcopal sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit were taking a giant step in their decade-long journey to weave ecological concerns into their daily ministry. While they have long tried to reduce their carbon footprint at 113th Street, the new convent, for which construction will begin in March, will help them be green from the ground up. Of the 14 firms that the sisters had invited to submit proposals, BKSK ultimately wooed them with a plan that features rooftop gardens, water heated by solar power, rainwater collection, natural light and ventilation and the use of environmentally sensitive materials throughout. ...


Amen!

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Wed, Jan 28, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Recycling 'could be adding to global warming'
"It might be that the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away," he said. "We've got to urgently get a grip on how this material is flowing through the system; whether we're actually adding to or reducing the overall impact in terms of global warming potential in this process."... councils in England and Wales were dumping more than 200,000 tons of recyclable waste every year -- up to 10 per cent of all the glass, paper, plastic and other materials separated out by householders. Thousands of tons of recyclables are shipped to China because of insufficient capacity and demand in Britain. ...


Reduce. Reuse. Repurpose. Reward good behavior. Recycle what makes sense to recycle, especially if it hardly biodegrades.

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Thu, Jan 15, 2009
from Cleantech Blog:
Peak Phosphorus?
First there was 'Peak Oil', then there was talk of 'Peak Water', but 'Peak Phosphorus' may trump them all as a sustainability issue without rival. Fact: Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource for which there is no substitute.... The timing for Peak phosphorus may be 50 years out, or a hundred and fifty years, but as with peak oil, it's not a question of if, but when. There has already been considerable volatility in Phosphorus markets in the past year, possibly related more to volatility in the energy market and this has trickled through into food prices. ...


So, what -- will we have phosphorus speculation soon? Phosphorus default swaps, anyone?

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Tue, Dec 30, 2008
from Popular Science:
This Machine Might* Save the World
* that's a big, fat "might" ... The source of endless energy for all humankind resides just off Government Street in Burnaby, British Columbia, up the little spit of blacktop on Bonneville Place and across the parking lot from Shade-O-Matic blind manufacturers and wholesalers. The future is there, in that mostly empty office with the vomit-green walls -- and inside the brain of Michel Laberge, 47, bearded and French-Canadian... What Laberge has set out to build in this office park, using $2 million in private funding and a skeletal workforce, is a nuclear-fusion power plant... If (and this is a truly serious if) Laberge and his team succeed, the rewards could be astounding: nearly limitless, inexpensive energy, with no chemical combustion by-products, a minimal amount of extremely short-lived radioactive waste, and no risk of a catastrophic, Chernobyl-level meltdown. ...


Sounds like this is the guy to put the "nu" and "fu" back into nuclear fusion!

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Mon, Dec 29, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
What if you can't see the forest for the wind farm?
The only certain thing about the battle shaping up on the edge of Algonquin Park is that the green side will win. The question, however, is which green side will be the victor? In a conflict suited to the times, the Ontario government is running into resistance from self-professed environmentalists over its plan to expand the use of wind turbines, which are the darling of other self-professed environmentalists. The government, which wants to shut down all the province's polluting coal plants by 2014, seems determined to ignore the cries that plunking up to 60 giant wind turbines in the middle of nearly pristine forest is not the highest evolution of green philosophy. ...


I have a solution: Disguise the wind turbines AS trees!

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Mon, Dec 29, 2008
from Washington Post:
Inventors Find Inspiration in Natural Phenomena
For some, whale watching is a tourist activity. For Gunter Pauli, it is a source of technological inspiration. "I see a whale, I see a six-to-12-volt electric generator that is able to pump 1,000 liters per pulse through more than 108 miles of veins and arteries," he said. The intricate wiring of the whale's heart is being studied as a model for a device called a nanoscale atrioventricular bridge, which will undergo animal testing next year and could replace pacemakers for the millions of people whose diseased hearts need help to beat steadily. Pauli -- who directs the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI) Foundation in Geneva -- is an unabashed promoter of biomimicry, the science of making technological and commercial advances by copying natural processes. At a time when many are looking for a way to protect Earth's biodiversity and reduce the ecological impact of industrial products and processes, a growing number of business leaders and environmental activists alike are looking to biomimicry as a way to achieve both ends. ...


And biota won't sue you for intellectual property theft!

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Sat, Dec 27, 2008
from New York Times:
No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in "Passive Houses"
...Even on the coldest nights in central Germany, Mr. Kaufmann's new "passive house" and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer...The concept of the passive house, pioneered in this city of 140,000 outside Frankfurt, approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants' bodies. And in Germany, passive houses cost only about 5 to 7 percent more to build than conventional houses. ...


And I used to think "passive" was a bad thing!

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Sat, Dec 27, 2008
from Discover:
Super Trees Clean up Superfund Sites
Argonne, Illinois -- A legacy of the Argonne National Laboratory�s early foray into atomic energy lies buried here on its campus, about 25 miles southwest of Chicago. Although solid wastes from all sorts of experiments have been sealed in a landfill, certain liquids, mostly chlorinated solvents, still taint the water that runs under the site. The ongoing attempt to remove these contaminants occupies an enormous experimental facility that covers four acres and looks like a forest. "I like to brag that I have the biggest lab at Argonne," says agronomist Cristina Negri, indicating an expanse of 900 poplars and willows growing in rows. The trees stand about 30 feet high. More important, their roots extend 30 feet down, where they tap the contaminated aquifer and literally pull pollutants out of the ground. ...


This is a treeific solution!

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Wed, Dec 24, 2008
from The Michigan Messenger:
Will water vortices provide the next renewable energy?
U of M engineer says water currents can solve world's power problems: T. Boone Pickens may well have been right: Oil dependence is almost certainly "one emergency we can't drill our way out of." But if a University of Michigan engineer knows half of what he thinks he knows about water power, the solution to the world's energy needs doesn't have much to do with the billionaire oilman's much-advertised vision of an endless line of windmills stretching from Texas to Canada. The real answer may be a cylinder continuously moving up and down in an 8,000-gallon water tank in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Building on the University of Michigan's North Campus in Ann Arbor. As Professor Michael M. Bernitsas sees it, the cylinder-based device he invented is a short step away from a commercially viable version that might be the key to a cheap, inexhaustible supply of clean energy to power the entire world, even regions far removed from sources of water. The device is nicknamed VIVACE, short for Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy. It's pronounced "Vee-VAH-chay," after the term for music played in a lively, spirited manner. ...


I wouldn't mind getting some of those vortex induced vibrations at my home!

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Wed, Dec 24, 2008
from Annapolis Capital:
Measure your nitrogen footprint
Environmentalists often stress that each of the 17 million people living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed contributes to the bay's decline. Now they have a nifty tool to drive home their point: an online calculator that adds up how much nitrogen pollution each household generates. The project has been two years in the making for Dr. Beth McGee and the staff at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It's posted at www.cbf.org/yourbayfootprint. ...


Pretty soon we'll have to have methane calculators that assess how often and much we fart!

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Tue, Dec 23, 2008
from TIME Magazine:
A Japanese Town That Kicked the Oil Habit
...In resource-poor Japan, which imports 90 percent of its fuel, Kuzumaki is a marvel of energy self-sufficiency. Signs of the town's comprehensive focus on environmental sustainability are visible from its mountaintops to the pens of the dairy cows that once were the bedrock of local commerce. Atop Mt. Kamisodegawa, the 12 wind turbines, each 305 feet (93 m) tall, have the capacity to convert mountain gusts into 21,000 KW of electricity — more than enough to meet the needs of the town's residents. The excess is sold to neighboring communities. Of course, the wind doesn't always blow. At Kuzumaki Highland Farm, 200 dairy cows share the power load. Their manure is processed into fertilizer and methane gas, the latter used as fuel for an electrical generator at the town's biomass facility. Nearby, a three-year project sponsored by Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's New Energy Development Organization (NEDO) uses wood chips from larch trees to create gas that powers the farm's milk and cheese operations. The bark of other trees is also made into pellets for heating stoves used throughout the community. A local winery, for instance, has two such stoves, and Kuzumaki pays residents up to 50,000 yen ($490) toward the cost of installing one. All told, clean energy generated 161 percent of Kuzumaki's electricity last year. ...


One hundred and sixty-one percent!? That's enough to give us some!

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from SciDev.net:
New Agency to be global 'Voice of Renewables'
A new agency to be launched next month (26 January) in Bonn, Germany, aims to promote a swift transition towards the use of renewable energy worldwide. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which was initially driven by Denmark, Germany and Spain, will be the first worldwide agency solely dedicated to promoting renewable energy, acting as the "voice of renewable energy", according to its website.... It plans to support projects in biomass, hydropower, wind, solar and geothermal energy and biofuels. ...


Can we get an amplifier for that voice?

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Thu, Dec 11, 2008
from Newsweek:
Out of Thin Air
Remember those sweltering summer days when the air was so muggy you could practically drink it? A new home appliance is promising to make that possible by converting outdoor air into nearly 13 quarts of fresh water every day. Originally envisioned as an antidote to the shortage of clean drinking water in the world, the WaterMill has the look of a futuristic air conditioner and the ability to condense, filter and sterilize water for about 3 cents per quart. At $1,299, the 45-pound device doesn't come cheap, and it is neither the first nor the biggest machine to enter the fast-growing field of atmospheric water generators. But by targeting individual households with a self-cleaning, environmentally friendly alternative to bottled water, Kelowna, British Columbia-based Element Four is hoping its WaterMill will become the new must-have appliance of 2009. ...


In the future... we'll all be fish!

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Tue, Dec 9, 2008
from Scientific American:
Chicago's Plans to Go Green
...In September, Chicago unveiled an action plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to one quarter below 1990 levels by 2020, followed by reductions through 2050 that would slash emissions by 80 percent. Up to 400,000 homes and 9,200 skyscrapers and factories would require energy-efficient retrofits in the next 12 years. All 21 coal-burning power plants throughout Illinois would need to be refurbished, too, requiring statewide cooperation. Another 450,000 riders would have to wedge themselves into elevated trains and buses every day—a 30 percent increase—rather than commute by car. “I don’t know of another municipal plan that is this ambitious or comprehensive,” says Rebecca Stanfield, a senior energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council... ...


Now, if they could just produce a World Series winner...

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Fri, Dec 5, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Rice-powered stove ignites new hope for poor farmers
Alexis Belonio’s obsession with rice husks began in 2003, when rising fuel prices and heavy dependence on foreign oil slammed his native Philippines with an energy crunch. "I saw rice mills throw husks into the rivers," says the agricultural engineer. "I started thinking about using them as fuel." Mr. Belonio was already an accomplished inventor, having designed over 30 devices ranging from paddy dryers to water pumps for poor Filipino farmers. So his thinking led him to the cooking stove, an item fraught with expense and danger in the developing world. More than a third of the world’s population can’t afford propane or other petroleum-based cooking fuels, relying instead on biomass such as wood or charcoal. Most biomass is burned in inefficient stoves that emit soot, smoke, and toxic fumes. Belonio envisioned a safer, cleaner, and less-expensive way to cook. Working largely in isolation and with little funding, he turned rice husks – an inedible byproduct of milling rice for food – into a bright blue flame. ...


New toy this Christmas: The Easy Bake Oven, fueled by rice husks!

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from Associated Press:
Solar car completes 1st ever round-the-world trip
POZNAN, Poland (AP) — The first solar-powered car to travel around the world ended its journey at the U.N. climate talks Thursday, arriving with the message that clean technologies are available now to stop global warming. The small two-seater, hauling a trailer of solar cells and carrying chief U.N. climate official Yvo de Boer, glided up to a building in Poznan, Poland, where delegates from some 190 nations are working toward a new treaty to control climate change. "This is the first time in history that a solar-powered car has traveled all the way around the world without using a single drop of petrol," said Louis Palmer, the 36-year-old Swiss schoolteacher and adventurer who made the trip. "These new technologies are ready," he said. "It's ecological, it's economical, it is absolutely reliable. We can stop global warning." ...


But does it have cool cupholders?

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from Underwater Times:
Study: One-third Of World's Fish Catches Are Being Wasted As Animal Feed; 'It Defies Reason'
An alarming new study to be published in November in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources finds that one-third of the world's marine fish catches are ground up and fed to farm-raised fish, pigs, and poultry, squandering a precious food resource for humans and disregarding the serious overfishing crisis in our oceans.... "We need to stop using so many small ocean fish to feed farmed fish and other animals," Alder said. "These small, tasty fish could instead feed people. Society should demand that we stop wasting these fish on farmed fish, pigs, and poultry." Although feeds derived from soy and other land-based crops are available and are used, fishmeal and fish oil have skyrocketed in popularity because forage fish are easy to catch in large numbers, and hence, relatively inexpensive. ...


We're taking all the "forage fish" away from the foragers -- we may see a "forage riot" from the large marine animals before long.

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Tue, Dec 2, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
How changes in daily routine may become second nature
Before going out you turn off the master switch for all your appliances. Then you climb into your electric car for the drive to work. The roads are noticeably quieter, and there have been studies showing asthma admissions are falling as petrol and diesel cars are replaced.... David Kennedy, the climate change committee's chief executive, said: "Let's not underestimate the energy efficiency that gives you more [savings] than lifestyle change, but there are things that can really make a difference, such as simply switching lights off when you leave the room and turning the thermostat down." There would likely be visible and audible changes: quieter streets, more wind turbines on the horizon, but also, as farmers use less fertiliser, more trout and salmon in rivers, while countryside bird populations should flourish. ...


You mean I can make a difference with my personal life!?

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Thu, Nov 27, 2008
from CGIAR, via Mongabay:
Carbon market could pay poor farmers to adopt sustainable cultivation techniques
... [P]roceeds from the carbon market could be used to reward farmers who adopt cultivation techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Such methods include growing crops under a canopy of fruit or timber trees, planting fodder trees for livestock, and curtailing the use of slash-and-burn agriculture. "If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and effectively as possible, we need to do everything we can to encourage the people living in and around the world's tropical forests to adopt carbon-saving and carbon-enhancing approaches to development," said Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center, one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). "One crucial way to do that is to give them the same opportunities to sell their carbon as a commodity in the global market as is encouraged in other sectors." ...


My only worry is that this is too sensible for humanity, but not conducive to agribusiness.

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Wed, Nov 26, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Inspiring people to grow their own food
... That's why I really like the idea of the WHO Farm Project in the US. It's an attempt to convince Barack Obama to also reach for the spade when he takes the keys to the White House in January and symbolically dig up the famous front lawn in order to toss in some vegetable seeds. It's exactly what the Roosevelts did during the second world war and it helped to inspire over 20m so-called "Victory Gardens" across the US. The garden at 10 Downing St isn't blessed with quite as many rods of prime growing land, but Buckingham Palace, and other world-famous sites across the UK, certainly are. It's not as if a decent veg patch needs to take up that much room. And just think of all those other wasted spaces where veg could easily be grown -- parks, verges, roundabouts (OK, that might be a little dangerous) and all those monoculture corporate HQ landscaped gardens. ...


We need not vanquish to declare victories like this.

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Sat, Nov 22, 2008
from New Scientist:
Experts plan 'doomsday vault' for frog sperm
The freezer could be the future for frogs and other amphibians. Efforts announced today are currently underway around the world to boost amphibian numbers with cryopreservation and assisted reproduction. Breeding frogs and their cousins to increase numbers could help vulnerable species survive looming extinctions. But getting amphibians to mate is not always straightforward, so researchers are developing other techniques to give them a helping hand. One proposal resembles the doomsday seed vault which opened this year in Norway. Only instead of plant seed, the amphibian vault would store sperm, guaranteeing amphibian genetic diversity for times of dwindling populations. ...


Work is also underway to create special magazines for the frogs -- to aid in the process of collecting that sperm!

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Sat, Nov 22, 2008
from Living on Earth:
Green Hospitals
Critics say hospital buildings and food are enough to make you sick. Today there's a growing movement in health care to get hospitals to green their facilities and, as host Bruce Gellerman reports, it's transforming the medical community... "From bedpans and surgical gloves to operating rooms and MRI machines, hospitals are enormously expensive to build, equip and operate. And when it comes to making life saving decisions, administrators aren't about to worry about buying energy-saving devices. Still, medicine is starting to use the power of the purse to go green." ...


From hypocritical to Hippocratic....go green!

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Thu, Nov 20, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Poll: World wants green action, despite costs
A wide majority of the world's citizens are unhappy with the slow pace of their governments' moves toward renewable energy and want their leaders to do more, even if that raises their utility bills, according to a global opinion poll released today. The finding sends a clear signal to officials at next month’s climate change meeting in Poznan, Poland, scheduled to lay the groundwork for a 2009 international treaty to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. ...


The people, united, will never be defeated!

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Tue, Nov 18, 2008
from Washington Post:
Japan's Trash Technology Helps Deodorize Dumps in Tokyo
TOKYO -- It doesn't smell like a dump. If it did, there are a quarter-million neighbors to complain about Tokyo's Toshima Incineration Plant, which devours 300 tons of garbage a day, turning it into electricity, hot water and a kind of recyclable sand. ... Remarkably, this does not create a big stink, literally or politically. ...


Why don't we put all our trash on barges and send it to Japan!

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Mon, Nov 10, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
European fishing fleets may have catches cut by one-quarter
European fishing fleets could see their catches cut by up to a quarter next year if EU ministers sign up to recommendations aiming to protect overfished species such as cod and haddock. The European Commission today proposed deep cuts in 2009 catches for almost 30 species and a ban on fishing for several others across the northeastern Atlantic.... "I know this will be hard on the fleets affected," he said. "But there is no other choice if we want to restore the ecological basis for a truly viable European fishing industry," he added. ...


Cut catches now, or we'll be having phytoplankton-'n'-chips later.

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Mon, Nov 3, 2008
from USA Today:
A bounty sprouts in the city with MyFarm enterprise
Some might look across this city's rolling hills with its waves of roofs and see some of America's priciest real estate. Trevor Paque saw virgin farmland. He calls his enterprise, MyFarm, a "decentralized urban farm." His aim is to turn San Francisco's under-used, overgrown backyards into verdant plots of green that will provide organically grown food for the city's residents. ...


Sounds like a MyWinner to MyMe!

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from London Independent:
Organic farming 'could feed Africa'
Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today. New evidence suggests that organic practices -- derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad -- are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. ...


A-maize-ing!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Wood heat rises again
But as people polish their stoves and admire their woodpiles, environmentalists and health officials are expressing concern that burning wood in old or poorly designed stoves could add significantly to air pollution. And although wood represents a local and renewable fuel source, its credentials as a "carbon neutral" fuel -- not adding to global warming -- are hazy at best.... "I like to call it '75 percent carbon neutral,'" Mr. Gulland says. While wood burning does release carbon dioxide and methane, advocates argue that the trees would do that anyway in the forest as they die, fall over, and decompose.... "On a scale of carbon neutrality, it's better than burning a fossil fuel, but it's not the same as wind or solar," Rector says. "It's a very complicated question," she says. "We still need to let the scientists figure it out." ...


It's a knotty problem, but I'll go out on a limb....

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Sun, Oct 19, 2008
from Los Angeles Times:
Migrating Alaskan pollock are creating the potential for a new dispute with Russia
America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.... Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise. Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute. ...


Traitors.

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Tue, Sep 30, 2008
from American Society of Agronomy:
Experiment Demonstrates 110 Years of Sustainable Agriculture
A plot of land on the campus of Auburn University shows that 110 years of sustainable farming practices can produce similar cotton crops to those using other methods. In 1896, Professor J.F. Duggar at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University) started an experiment to test his theories that sustainable cotton production was possible on Alabama soils if growers would use crop rotation and include winter legumes (clovers and/or vetch) to protect the soil from winter erosion. ...


I've got an idea: let's try this on a large scale!

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Tue, Sep 23, 2008
from SeaWeb via ScienceDaily:
Solution To Global Fisheries Collapse? 'Catch Shares' Could Rescue Failing Fisheries, Protect The Ocean
A study published in the September 19 issue of Science shows that an innovative yet contentious fisheries management strategy called "catch shares" can reverse fisheries collapse. Where traditional "open access" fisheries have converted to catch shares, both fishermen and the oceans have benefited... The results of the study are striking: while nearly a third of open-access fisheries have collapsed, the number is only half that for fisheries managed under catch share systems. Furthermore, the authors show that catch shares reverse the overall downward trajectory for fisheries worldwide, and that this beneficial effect strengthens over time. ...


The fish consider it a kindler, gentler approach to killing them.

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Sun, Sep 14, 2008
from Democrat and Chronicle, via Post Carbon Cities:
Small 'urban poultry' movement has residents raising chickens from scratch
Eating from the home garden is typically limited to fruits and vegetables. But a small and determined flock of city and suburban residents is adding another food group to their homegrown bounty: eggs laid by chickens they are raising in their own backyards. "I really want to be living on a farm, but I have to live in the city for my husband. This is a way to bring myself a little closer to food security and sustainability," says Kate Mendenhall, a projects coordinator for Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York and founder of the Rochester City Chicken Club. ...


With a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there...
every little cluck helps.

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Sat, Sep 13, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Sustainability Starts in Your Own Back Yard
But we now know that native plants can endure without synthetic chemicals or fertilizer, or much watering or labor, once established. And that insects that depend on native plants are important food for birds. Knowing this, gardeners can take steps to promote sustainability in their landscapes. It involves how you use your property -- everything you own. Here are some key steps that will help you to create a sustainable gardening culture and promote renewable energy: ...


It also may involve recognizing that we don't "own" anything -- we rent it from the Great Landlord, earth.
And recognizing we're way behind on rent.

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Fri, Aug 29, 2008
from Murray Valley Standard (Australia):
Fish 'n' chips that last forever
The society's "Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide" ... divides species into three categories: "Say no", "Think twice" and "Better choice". Species to avoid include those that have been over-fished, such as shark and orange roughy (or deep sea perch). Deep sea species are vulnerable to over-fishing because they tend to be slow-growing and long-living. The method by which a fish is caught is also important. Catching by handline is better for the environment than bottom trawling, the equivalent of using a nuclear bomb to catch rabbits. There are several methods in between. ...


I'll have that "Think Twice"
with tartar sauce, please.

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Fri, Aug 15, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
National Trust cuts plastic bags by 95 per cent with 5p charge
Its clampdown on the "plastic poison", blamed for harming wildlife and blighting the environment, follows similar successes at High Street stores and supermarkets across the country.... Thousands of customers have opted to either recycle old bags or invest in hessian and canvas, and the Government has warned of a mandatory charge for those retailers who do not get onboard the anti-waste bandwagon. The National Trust as part of a wider campaign to become more environmentally-friendly. ...


100 days, 95 percent reduction.
But what will we carry around to pick up dog poo?

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Thu, Aug 14, 2008
from CSRwire:
First Ever National Initiative to Establish Sustainable Agriculture Standard (SCS-001) Enters Next Important Phase
Sustainability is widely understood to encompass environmental, social, and economic parameters, dating back to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. For agricultural products, safety and quality parameters are also a key part of the sustainability discussion. SCS-001, the draft standard that will serve as the starting point for discussions, also addresses the impacts of product packaging, the responsibilities of the supply chain, and agricultural practices that can minimize greenhouse gases. ...


Where standards go, practice follows.
It's a start.

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Sun, Aug 3, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
China 'leads the world' in renewable energy
China is the world's leading producer of energy from renewable sources and is on the way to overtaking developed countries in creating clean technologies, according to a report by the Climate Group.... The country already leads the world in terms of installed renewable capacity at 152 gigawatts. In the next year, China will also become the world's leading exporter of wind turbines and it is also highly competitive in solar water heaters, energy efficient home appliances, and rechargeable batteries. ...


There, but for the grace of the Supreme Court, go we.

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
A recession will give ecological development a new life
"This is an opportunity to think strategically about development," says environmental adviser Chris Baines. "Sites where biodiversity is being lost may have a reprieve, and this breathing space is the opportunity to think about establishing a green infrastructure ahead of a restart in building and to analyse the social implications to families of such high-density housing without significant green space. There are opportunities for tree-planting, wetlands for flood management, energy crops, adventure playgrounds." ...


Maybe these clouds have a green lining.

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Sun, Jul 6, 2008
from Robert Silverberg, in Asimovs Science Fiction:
Peak Metals: Gallium, Indium, Zinc, Copper
The element gallium is in very short supply and the world may well run out of it in just a few years. Indium is threatened too, says Armin Reller, a materials chemist at Germany' s University of Augsburg. He estimates that our planet's stock of indium will last no more than another decade. All the hafnium will be gone by 2017 also, and another twenty years will see the extinction of zinc. Even copper is an endangered item, since worldwide demand for it is likely to exceed available supplies by the end of the present century.... Dr. Reller says that by 2017 or so there'll be [no gallium] left to use. Indium, another endangered element -- number 49 in the periodic table -- is similar to gallium in many ways, has many of the same uses ... and is being consumed much faster than we are finding it. Dr. Reller gives it about another decade. ...


Surely we'll simply invent a way
to make fundamental elements.
right?

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Mon, Jun 30, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Prudence: a green virtue
However difficult the mainstream parties might be finding the sustainable development agenda, they know that their own political destiny is being shaped by it more and more every year. Climate change, oil at $140 a barrel, food security issues, obesity, public health, infrastructure, housing -- even if sustainable development isn't yet the "central organising principle" of contemporary politics, more and more of the agenda is framed by it. And it is not that dissimilar for leading businesses.... ...


Apocaiku:
A milder lifestyle
becomes necessary for
wasteless survival.


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Mon, Jun 30, 2008
from Universitat Autňnoma de Barcelona:
An Impossible Coexistence: Transgenic and Organic Agriculture
The cultivation of genetically modified maize has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivation of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible. This is the main conclusion reached in one of the first field studies in Europe... The author's analysis reveals a social confrontation between proponents and opponents of GM technology regarding the consequences it can have and the measures to be taken in regulating and taking responsibility for any cases of admixture... Many farmers who could sue for damages prefer not to do so in order to avoid any local confrontations in small villages. ...


Small-town morays
vs.
big-corporate ethics.


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Wed, Jun 18, 2008
from FishUpdate:
Norwegian saithe fisheries celebrate sustainability
The Norwegian North Sea saithe and Norwegian North East Arctic saithe fisheries were the first Norwegian fisheries to enter the MSC assessment process. Subject to MSC Chain of Custody certification, saithe from the fisheries is now eligible to carry the MSC eco-label on fish and products marking it out as fish from a sustainable and well-managed source. ...


For the six billion who didn't know, "MSC" is the Marine Stewardship Council.
Stewardship -- what a concept.

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Tue, Jun 10, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Small farms are now our best chance of feeding the world
A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are 20 times as productive as farms of more than 10 hectares. Sen's observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere.... As developing countries sweep away street markets and hawkers' stalls and replace them with superstores and glossy malls, the most productive farmers lose their customers and are forced to sell up. The rich nations support this process by demanding access for their companies. Their agricultural subsidies still help their own large farmers to compete unfairly with the small producers of the poor world. ...


But small farms won't raise shareholder value for ADM and Monsanto.
To the lobbying barricades!

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Sun, Jun 8, 2008
from AP, via Abilene Reporter-News:
Markets emerging for old-fashioned farming, ranching
A recent study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that intensive industrial livestock production has yielded antibiotic-resistant bacteria, degraded the environment and devastated rural communities by replacing farm and ranch jobs with poorly paying feedlot positions. By contrast, operations such as Hearst Ranch raise their animals without growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics -- and don't confine their livestock to teeming feed lots. "In the consumer's mind, there's a connection to better health and to better for the environment and to good corporate citizenship," Goldin said. "It's just starting, but I think it's going to be a very powerful movement." ...


We need folk songs and slogans:
Back Home on the Range?
That Land is Our Land?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008
from Peterborough Examiner (Canada):
Holistic permaculture looks at whole system
Permaculture is permanent agriculture (agriculture that can be sustained indefinitely) and permanent culture (a method of working with, rather than against, nature).... using multiple crops that form beneficial plant communities, forest farming, crop rotation, no till, preserving native seeds and plants, composting, conservation of land and water, and bringing nature back to our homes. ...


Working with Nature?
That's not the way we do things here.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, May 31, 2008
from Newcastle University, via ScienceDaily:
Organic Free Grazing Cows Are Cream Of The Crop
A new study by Newcastle University proves that organic farmers who let their cows graze as nature intended are producing better quality milk. The Nafferton Ecological Farming Group study found that grazing cows on organic farms in the UK produce milk which contains significantly higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than their conventional 'high input' counterparts. ...


Who'da thunk it?
Happy cows make happier milk.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 14, 2008
from Wilson Center:
Fishing for Families in the Philippines
The Philippines' rapidly rising population has overwhelmed the fisheries that have traditionally supported the country, bringing grinding poverty and malnutrition to many coastal communities. But a new approach to conservation may save families along with the fish and their habitats... By integrating the delivery of family planning and conservation services, the Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management (IPOPCORM) project found that it could improve reproductive health and coastal resource management more than programs that focused exclusively on reproductive health or the environment -- and at a lower total cost. ...


Recognizing that we're all related, and caring for each other by caring for Nature.
Radical!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, May 10, 2008
from American Society of Agronomy:
Large Reductions In Agricultural Chemical Use Can Still Result In High Crop Yields And Profits
Researchers investigated whether yield, weed suppression, and profit characteristics of low-external-input (LEI) farming systems could match or exceed those of conventional farming systems. Yields and profits were similar or higher in the LEI systems as in the conventional system, and lower herbicide inputs did not lead to increased weed problems. The results suggest that large reductions in agrichemical use can be compatible with high crop yields and profits. ...


Since profits are all that matter, this opens up all sorts of new opportunities!

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Mon, Apr 28, 2008
from Mother Earth News:
Designing Sustainable Small Farms
Conventional agricultural ecosystems (i.e., farms) are inherently fragile: Their productivity can be sustained only if fossil fuel subsidies, in one form or another, are employed as inputs. Most farms entail, as well, other very serious environmental costs. Clearly, we need to create new food raising systems that will conserve soil, water, and nutrients ... minimize the use of fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, and synthetic pesticides ... and lead to regionally self-reliant food systems.... [I]n the final analysis agricultural production will be maintained only if farms are designed in the image of natural ecosystems, combining the knowledge of science with the wisdom of the wilderness.... The philosophy, as summed up by Mollison, is one "of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation, rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." ...


Golden oldies: this originally from 1984. Can we apply permaculture to the suburbs?
A chicken in every backyard!

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Sat, Apr 26, 2008
from Government of India:
Conservation of Genetic Diversity a Must for Sustainable Agriculture: Shri Pawar
The Government considers proper management of plant and animal genetic resources integral to sustainable development of agriculture ... "Ecological implications of climate change and of agricultural intensification are major constraints to sustainable development of agriculture-based systems. So far, there is little awareness among professionals of the close relationship between climate change and food security and the role genetic resource has to play. It is imperative to manage these resources in a sustainable way. Climate change-induced environmental stress may in fact go beyond the reach of adaptation and in situ approach of genetic resource conservation offers a great chance to shape a future worth living.... Further, a blend of modern science and indigenous knowledge will be required to face the challenges of increasing agricultural production in decades ahead." ...


"Indigenous knowledge?" What's that?

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Sat, Mar 8, 2008
from Los Angeles Times:
Edison to launch big wind project
"Southern California Edison said Friday that it was about to begin construction on a desert wind farm that could provide power for upward of 3 million homes by 2013, predicting that it would be the largest wind transmission project in the country...Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said the project would create the largest block of wind energy in the country." ...


Clearly, this is a win-win-wind situation.

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Sat, Dec 8, 2007
from Sydney Morning Herald (Australia):
Academic seeks 100 percent greenhouse target
Nations need to cut greenhouse pollution by 50 per cent by 2025 and 100 per cent by 2050 to avoid climatic disaster, an academic says. Climate change researcher Ian McGregor said the kind of emissions cuts being discussed at the UN conference on Bali would fail to avert catastrophic climate change. ...


Wait, you mean we don't get to give this problem to our children?

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