commentary

Nano-Threat: Risk and Reality
March 13, 2008 12:08 AM -

Broadly considered, there’s probably no field of applied scientific research and development with implications as profound and far-reaching as nanotechnology. Governments and industry are pumping billions into developing nano-engineered materials that may one day in the not to distant future completely overturn the manufacturing of an incredibly wide range of products, from semiconductors and solar cells through weapons and drug delivery systems to everyday food, health and cosmetics products.

A Low-Emissivity Coating That Really Works
March 12, 2008 11:16 PM -

To say that there is a lot of hype about insulating paints and radiant barrier coatings is an understatement. The Internet is rife with claims of paints that dramatically reduce heat transfer—usually based on some technological magic spun off from NASA. While these products may have some relevance in the extreme conditions of outer space, manufacturers of paints containing “ceramic beads” or “sodium borosilicate microspheres” are making claims that defy the laws of physics—and independent test results—when they claim they can save significant energy in buildings. Well-engineered coatings with metallic particles can reduce radiant heat transfer, however. LO/MIT-II from SOLEC—Solar Energy Corporation has a long track record of success and is, at least for now, the only such product made with a water-based, low-volatile-organic-compound (VOC) formulation.

THE U.S. OF SOLAR POWER — OUR CARS TOO.
March 12, 2008 11:13 PM -

Technologically we could build solar power plants so expansive, covering such a large area, that they could be seen from space. But we don’t have to. We could plaster the world’s deserts with solar photovoltaic or concentrated solar thermal power plants to provide many times the amount of power needed to run the world’s economies. But we don’t have to turn the world’s deserts into energy-generating industrial sites. Large scale solar power plants can be built anywhere where sun-drenched real estate is affordable.

Caribbean tourist trade counts the cost of climate change
March 12, 2008 10:59 PM -

Hurricanes and rising sea levels are threatening Caribbean tourism. So how will the region’s most important industry safeguard its future? Kory South has spent the last 15 years building his dream resort in St Elizabeth, Jamaica. But his dream is in peril from rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. South has incurred millions of dollars in losses from hurricanes affecting the island over the last three years.

U.S. Cap & Trade, Politics and the Elections
March 12, 2008 10:51 PM -

Analysts at New Carbon Finance foresee a national cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme emerging in the U.S. in 2012-2013, one that by 2020 has the potential to grow to $1 trillion, more than twice the size of the European Union’s. Though the Bush administration has said that any such legislation would be vetoed, the chances of a national cap-and-trade scheme being put into effect by law, perhaps as soon as 2009, look likely with the election of a new president, though the positions of the candidates, as well as the two houses of Congress, encompass a range of attitudes and approaches, the analysts note.

Food versus fuel in the Philippines
March 12, 2008 10:44 PM -

The government wants farmers to plant crops for biofuels on a vast scale. But could the quest for green energy create food shortages? Growing world energy demand, the insecurity of long-term supply and the consequences of fossil fuel use for climate change are driving governments to look for alternatives. To meet rising energy needs, many countries are promoting the production and use of biofuels - energy extracted as a gas, liquid or oil from plants.

Chainsaws Cut into Cambodia’s Preah Monivong National Park
March 12, 2008 10:31 PM -

Cambodia’s Preah Monivong National Park is an ecological jewel, rich in unique and endangered wildlife and plants. Known better in the country by its local name of Bokor, it is located in the southwest in Kampot Province and is among Cambodia’s most visited tourist attractions. The range of habitats found within Bokor support a number of important mammal species including tigers, leopards, Asian elephants, sun bears, and gibbons. A total of 223 bird species have been recorded in the park, six of which are globally significant, 13 are regionally significant, and 12 have never been seen elsewhere before.

Water for Fuel
March 12, 2008 10:22 PM -

Geneva, 10 March 2008 - As demand for biofuels increases, industry will face additional questions: How can the water be equitably shared? Is biofuel a practical energy solution? What are the options? These questions and others at the water and energy nexus will be the focus of a new WBCSD water and energy workstream of the Council’s Water Project.

Conservation areas 'neglected' under current efforts
March 12, 2008 10:16 PM -

The most important areas for biodiversity conservation are neglected under current protection efforts, researchers say. Scientists from the US-based University of California San Diego (UCSD) investigated whether current methods of locating conservation reserves are adequate to deal with future environmental changes.

HIGH PRICED CRUDE : SCOUNDREL OR SAVIOR?
March 12, 2008 10:09 PM -

It’s not just the subprime mortgage market that’s damaging the US, and perhaps global economies. It’s the relentless rise in the price of oil. And, $100 plus oil may be more the result of speculative greed than fundamentals like tight supplies or demand from growing nations. But there’s a bright side: High prices at the pump could force more drivers to conserve, to drive something less thirsty or shift away from petroleum altogether. High priced oil could help save the planet.

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