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The Worldwatch Institute offers a unique blend of interdisciplinary research, global focus, and accessible writing that has made it a leading source of information on the interactions among key environmental, social, and economic trends. Our work revolves around the transition to an environmentally sustainable and socially just society—and how to achieve it.
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10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
January 9, 2008 02:54 PM - , Worldwatch Institute
How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? In honor of Earth Day 2006, the Worldwatch Institute teams up with the Washington, D.C. members of SustainUS, the U.S. youth network for sustainable development, to share some ideas on how to go green and save green at home and at work. And we really mean it. Study after study has confirmed that global warming is already occurring and that it is caused primarily by human activities. The only uncertainties are how soon and in what ways it will disrupt our existence. Stronger storms? Flooded coastlines? Harsher droughts? More disease? Not to mention that our waterways, food, and air are already polluted to unsound levels in many areas, affecting our health and quality of life every day.
New Bans on Plastic Bags May Help Protect Marine Life
January 9, 2008 09:26 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
China’s surprise crackdown on plastic bags, announced on Tuesday, will prohibit the production and distribution of ultra-thin bags beginning June 1. The ruling bans the manufacture, sale, and use of plastic bags under 0.025 millimeters thick and prohibits supermarkets and shops nationwide from handing out the sacks for free. With the move, China joins a growing list of regions, from San Francisco to South Africa, that are using taxes, bans, and other regulations to try to decrease the prevalence of the ubiquitous bags.
New Certification Scheme Aims to Protect Socially Responsible Companies
January 3, 2008 10:31 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
More and more businesses across the globe are finding that they can be successful while also being environmentally and socially responsible. But in some cases, the companies are so successful that they end up being bought out by larger conglomerates, some of which then cut out the socially beneficial aspects of the original business. So how can consumers and investors tell which companies are truly responsible?
Cities, Countries Make Up for What Bali Lacked
December 31, 2007 11:42 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, early this month received criticism from some for failing to produce a stronger international plan to address greenhouse gas emissions once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. “We said we needed a roadmap,” Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth told the BBC, “but this conference has failed to give us a clear destination.” To offset further delay, some countries and many local governments have taken the lead and committed to hefty carbon-reduction schemes ahead of a formalized international plan.
For Climate Change Mitigation, Don’t Forget the Peatlands
December 26, 2007 11:18 AM - Alana Herro , Worldwatch Institute
Protecting peatland areas can be a cost-effective way to reduce as much as 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report launched December 11 in Bali, Indonesia. “Just like a global phaseout of old, energy-guzzling light bulbs or a switch to hybrid cars, protecting and restoring peatlands is perhaps another key ”low hanging fruit’...for climate change mitigation,” said Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary General and the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Bird Extinctions Likely to Rise with Climate Change
December 18, 2007 09:56 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
As warming temperatures push organisms to seek cooler climates at ever-higher altitudes, habitat areas are shrinking, putting many species of plants and animals at risk. This trend could have particularly dire consequences for the world’s bird populations, according to a new report in the journal Conservation Biology. “It’s like an escalator to extinction,” says lead author Cagan Sekercioglu, a senior research scientist with the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. “As a species is forced upwards and its elevational range narrows, the species moves closer to extinction.”
Modern Warfare Causes Unprecedented Environmental Damage
December 17, 2007 02:08 PM - , Worldwatch Institute
Washington, D.C.— Modern warfare tactics, as seen in the American war in Vietnam, the Rwandan and Congolese civil wars, and the current war in Iraq, have greatly increased our capacity to destroy the natural landscape and produce devastating environmental effects on the planet, according to Sarah DeWeerdt, author of “War and the Environment,” featured in the January/February 2008 issue of World Watch.
Study: Policy Trumps Technological Change in Beating Greenhouse Gas Emissions
December 12, 2007 08:53 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
A new study finds that policy changes, not technological advances, are necessary to stem the tide of rising greenhouse gas emissions. And the amount of climate-changing pollutants emitted could grow more quickly in the next 50 years than the last half-century, according to report authors Richard Eckaus of MIT and Ian Sue Wing of Boston University and MIT. “Technological change will not necessarily reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Energy taxes or a system on energy use and trade in emissions permits are necessary,” Eckaus says.
Indonesia: Can’t See the Conference for the Trees
December 10, 2007 08:14 AM - Alana Herro , Worldwatch Institute
On November 28, the United Nations announced that it had reached its goal of planting 1 billion trees in 2007, just days before the landmark UN climate change conference began in Bali, Indonesia, on December 3. Indonesia, meanwhile, has planted some 79 million trees nationwide in just the last few weeks to offset emissions from the conference. With one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world, the country has become a symbolic epicenter of a wide range of tree-related activities and discussions.
U.S. Emissions Reductions May Be Cheaper Than Thought
December 7, 2007 08:28 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
For years, the United States has resisted mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because of the perceived cost to the national economy. But a new report suggests that significantly reducing U.S. carbon emissions could cost far less than the trillions of dollars some have projected. McKinsey & Co., a privately owned management consulting firm, predicts that making substantial emissions cuts may cost the economy only a few billion dollars, and that at least 40 percent of the reductions would actually bring economic savings.