Environmental Policy

Palm oil is a major driver of peatlands destruction in Indonesian Borneo
April 27, 2012 09:38 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Developers in Indonesian Borneo are increasingly converting carbon-dense peatlands for oil palm plantations, driving deforestation and boosting greenhouse gas emissions, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research concludes that nearly all unprotected forests in Ketapang District in West Kalimantan will be gone by 2020 given current trends. The study, which was led by Kim Carlson of Yale and Stanford University, is based on comprehensive socioeconomic surveys, high-resolution satellite imagery, and carbon mapping of the Ketapang, which is home to some of the most biodiverse forests on the planet including those of Gunung Palung National Park.

What’s Undermining Energy Efficiency?
April 27, 2012 07:26 AM - Elisa Wood , Clean Techies

Exhilaration swept through the energy efficiency industry as city after city, state after state and nation after nation set aggressive energy saving goals over the last several years. But with target dates nearing in certain jurisdictions, a more sober attitude now permeates. Some governments are asking: Are we reaching too high? A global report issued this week by PwC, which looks into the minds of power industry executives, suggests the worry may be justified. Called "The shape of power to come," the annual report emerged from interviews with senior executives at 72 power companies in 43 countries. It found that a good number (45%) of executives are dubious that we will reach energy efficiency targets by 2030.

David Cameron outlines a Green Plan for Britain, gets mixed reviews
April 27, 2012 07:10 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Prime Minister's speech on the UK's drive for low-carbon energy has been given a lukewarm reception by campaign groups and industry leaders. Commenting on David Cameron's address, Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said he was still waiting to see evidence of the Coalition being the greenest Government ever. He added: "This falls a long way short of the green speech David Cameron should have given - tipping his hat to the need for a cleaner future and recycling a few announcements just won't measure up."

Concrete Degradation at New Hampshire, Nuclear Plant
April 26, 2012 01:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Concrete is considered fairly durable. The alkali—silica reaction (ASR) is a reaction which occurs over time in concrete between the highly alkaline cement paste and reactive non-crystalline (amorphous) silica, which is found in many common aggregates. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report today about potentially serious concrete degradation possibly due to this reaction at the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The report was written by Paul Brown, a professor of ceramic science and engineering at Penn State University. (An executive summary also is available on line.) After reviewing publicly available documents, Brown concluded that neither plant owner NextEra Energy nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fully understand the scope or origins of the problem and therefore cannot adequately assess the plant’s structural status.

New EPA Mapping Tool
April 25, 2012 07:01 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the public release of a web-based mapping tool developed for Federal agencies to facilitate more efficient and effective environmental reviews and project planning. The tool, NEPAssist, is part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through innovation, public participation and transparency. NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development.

China signs deal with Iceland to develop geothermal energy
April 25, 2012 08:42 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The Chinese have signed a deal with Iceland to increase co-operation over the development of geothermal energy. China's Premier Wen Jiabao concluded the agreement last weekend during the first stage of a four-nation European tour. As a trained geologist, Wen toured the Thingvellir national park, home to popular tourist attractions the Gullfoss falls and the Geysir geyser. While visiting a geothermal plant, the premier voiced "strong support" for efforts to tap geothermal energy back home in China.

Sharing a car is great, but watch the potential liability!
April 25, 2012 07:23 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit

Call it whatever you like — the sharing economy, collaborative consumption, the peer-to-peer marketplace, the access economy — but there is no denying that the idea of renting other people’s stuff or loaning out your own for cash is catching on. Fast Company predicted that 2012 would be the year for explosion in the peer-to-peer accommodation market pioneered by Airbnb. And it seems that this growth is expanding to include other renting arrangements as well, with dozens of online services popping up to capitalize on the trend. This all sounds great, but a recent incident is bringing attention to some of the liability issues associated with these borrowing arrangements. An article in the New York Times details the complicated liability situation resulting from a fatal accident that occurred when someone who rented a car through RelayRides crashed into another vehicle and was killed. RelayRides is a popular car sharing company that has gotten backing from GM and Google. The driver injured four people that were in the other car, and although RelayRides provides $1,000,000 in liability coverage to renters, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be enough to cover their medical claims.

The Price is Right for Wind Power
April 24, 2012 07:11 AM - MarĂ­a Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet

Generating wind energy is more than twice as cheap as solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production, a study of alternative energy in six developing countries has found. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change last week (15 April), could help inform global debates on financing initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.

Dalai Lama: Take Care of Our Home
April 23, 2012 08:54 AM - Max Havins, Sierra Club Green Home

This week the Dalai Lama joined two distinguished scientists in highlighting how global warming threatens the one planet we all call home. His message: climate change offers an opportunity for every person to have a positive influence on the rest of the world. Besides, it is in our own best interest to do so. "Each individual’s future depends on the rest of humanity," His Holiness told the crowd at the University of California, San Diego.

Make Earth Day count and start doing things to help all year long
April 22, 2012 08:30 AM - Kara A. DiCamillio, Sierra Club Green Home

Earth Day is a great opportunity to appreciate the planet that provides for us all year long. Sierra Club Green Home has seven simple things you can do for the environment this weekend, and hopefully you will incorporate them into your daily life as well! 1) Attend a clean-up in your community. This weekend there are clean-ups going on all around the country. A simple Web search can help you find one in your city or town. If by chance you cannot find one, don’t hesitate to pick up that stray piece of trash that might be blowing down the road. 2) Conserve water. We use a good amount of water through simple everyday tasks such as brushing our teeth, taking showers, and washing the dishes. There is also the amount of water used to produce our food and other products. Try to track how much water you use in one day, and look for areas where you can reduce your water footprint.

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