The Problem with Tree Plantations
September 22, 2012 08:08 AM - Isaac Rojas, MONGABAY.COM
Today, September 21, is the "International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations", an annual event organized by a coalition of social and environmental groups. Here, Isaac Rojas, a Costa Rican who is Friends of the Earth International coordinator of its Forest and Biodiversity Program, expresses his view point on industrial plantations. Public environmental awareness has come a long way since September 1962, when Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' was published, stimulating the birth of the environmental movement. This movement may be fifty years old, but nowadays you can feel 'green' by helping destroy forests instead of protecting them, for instance by clicking online a 'plant a tree' button on a seemingly well-meaning website.
Ending India's Massive Power Grid Outages
September 20, 2012 09:35 AM - Darshan Goswami, M.S., P.E., Triple Pundit
On July 30th and 31st, the world's largest blackout — The Great Indian Outage, stretching from New Delhi to Kolkata — occurred. This blackout caused by northern power grid failure left nearly 700 million people — twice the population of the U.S. — without electricity. A grid failure of this magnitude has thrown light on the massive demand for power in a country and its struggle to generate a much-needed power supply. India aims to expand its power-generation capacity by 44 percent over the next five years. In June, the country's power generation fell short by 5.8 percent against a peak-hour demand for 128 gigawatts, according to government data. India is divided into five regional grids, which are all interconnected, except for the southern grid. All the grids are being run by Power Grid, which operates more than 100,000 kilometers of electricity transmission lines. Serious concerns have been once again raised about the country’s growing infrastructure and inability to meet its energy needs.
New Cars by 2030 Can Halve Fuel Consumption
September 19, 2012 04:11 PM - Dani Thé, ENN
Two new reports released on Wednesday by the Paris-Based International Energy Agency (IEA) outlines how policy initiatives and specific technologies could cut automobile fuel consumption in half by 2030. The first report indicates that many of the technologies that would be required to make a noteworthy impact on automobile fuel efficiency are already commercially available. Unfortunately, while they are present in the market they are not widely used due to low market penetration. In order for these technologies to have global market penetration, the report suggests that governments must take action by having higher fuel economy standards and by providing citizens with greater financial incentives.
Fusion Power Update - Getting Closer!
September 19, 2012 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Researchers at Sandia Laboratories are getting closer to nuclear fusion that will produce more energy than it takes to create the fusion reaction! They are very close to the break even point. Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL). Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field.
West African and Caribbean seas rank among unhealthiest waters
September 18, 2012 01:07 PM - Samuel Hinneh and Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDev Net, SciDevNet
More research and better policies are needed to protect the world's most vulnerable seas, lying off the coast of West Africa and the Caribbean, local experts have told SciDev.Net. The two regions have some of the world's unhealthiest seas, according to a new index that assessed the health of seas and their benefits to livelihoods. Its methodology was published in Nature last month (15 August). The index rates seas in ten categories or 'goals', including water cleanliness, support for coastal livelihoods and economies, and food provision. It also assesses the state of coastal protection and biodiversity, seas' capacity for artisanal fishing, carbon storage and tourism, and the provision of natural products.
Wildlife trade bans may be worsening trafficking of some species, argues paper
September 18, 2012 09:49 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
While founded with good intentions, wildlife trade bans may in some cases be worsening the plight of some endangered species, argues a commentary published in the journal Tropical Conservation Science. Looking at three animals listed under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) — tigers, elephants and rhinos — Kirsten Conrad of AsiaCat argues that a moratorium on legal trade has exacerbated illegal trafficking by boosting prices and moving all commerce to the black market. She says the situation is worsened by poor law enforcement, ambiguous property rights, and demand rooted in "strong traditional affiliation".
Iran Blows Past Sanctions with Wind Energy
September 18, 2012 08:53 AM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet
Determined to stay its unpopular nuclear course, Iran is now turning to wind power and other renewable energy sources to blow past sanctions. Last year Karin reported that the current regime plans to produce 5,000 MW of solar energy by 2015, and in May this year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put aside an additional $620 million to grow the country’s nascent renewable energy program.
Are EV's really better for climate-changing emissions?
September 18, 2012 06:56 AM - EurActive
Electric cars are an axiom of clean transport planning - they produce no tailpipe emissions, little localised air pollution and, potentially, no greenhouse gas output. But as their critics point out, they are only as green as the electricity that they use. A power supply dependent on fossil fuels will produce greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles that are less than - but still comparable to - those from automobiles fitted with internal combustion engines (ICE)
US electric car industry poised to overtake Europe
September 17, 2012 08:03 AM - Euractiv
A new US fuel efficiency standard finalised by the Obama administration last month will jolt America’s nascent electric car industry to life, but could leave European auto manufacturers racing to catch up, analysts and industry sources say. From 2025, American cars and light trucks will have to achieve a standard of at least 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) under the new regulation, higher than can be achieved by any existing fuel-powered cars, according to the US Department of Energy. The only cars on the US market which exceed the 54.5 mpg target (measured as mpg equivalent) are at least partly powered by plug-in electricity, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.
Ice Sheets Apparently Can Grow Quickly in Cold Periods
September 15, 2012 08:25 AM - Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News
How fast can glaciers and ice sheets expand and shrink in response to rapidly changing climatic conditions? It's a question that scientists have been pondering with particular interest of late, with Greenland's Peterman Glacier calving large amounts of ice two years in succession, and much of the island's surface ice melting earlier this summer. Because abrupt climate changes have occurred, across various spatial and temporal scales, at several previous points in the planet's history, scientists can look for prehistorical clues, to see what happened then and thus infer what might happen in a warming 21st century. A team of geologists has done just that, although it has looked for evidence not during previous warm spells, but by looking at two major cooling events in Earth's past.