The Reality of Renewables

In the 1970s they were called “new and renewable energies” a grouping that allowed energy planners to lump nuclear energy (relatively new) in with hydro, solar, wind and biomass. A WBCSD Learning by Sharing session at our October meeting in Brussels focused on new and renewable energies in Europe and some of the barriers to realizing the high official hopes for them there. The very name renewable has great appeal, as it promises unlimited sources of relatively clean energy daily, such as sunlight or a breeze. But today, when we need them to greatly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they are not ready because they were never able to overcome the marketplace muscle of cheap coal and oil.

More evidence that economists don't want to pillage the environment
March 21, 2008 09:04 AM - , Environmental Economics

About 25% of the world's fisheries are depleted such that their current biomass is lower than the level that would maximize the sustained yield (MSY). By using methods not previously applied in the fisheries conservation context, we show in four disparate fisheries (including the long-lived and slow-growing orange roughy) that the dynamic maximum economic yield (MEY), the biomass that produces the largest discounted economic profits from fishing, exceeds MSY.

China’s SUV Culture: Flaunting Fat Wallets While Choking on Dirty Air
March 21, 2008 08:48 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

As sport utility vehicles (SUVs) become increasingly unpopular in Europe and the United States, the gas-guzzling wagons are capturing the attention of an expanding class of Chinese consumers: the new rich. The rapid increase in SUV sales in China is the result of a strong push by international automakers to capitalize on the huge Chinese market, using captivating ads to stimulate an individualistic SUV culture. This trend, if left unchecked, will likely only compound the already serious air-quality problems in a country beleaguered by mounting urban air pollution.

Arctic pollution's surprising history
March 19, 2008 09:35 AM - University of Utah

Scientists know that air pollution particles from mid-latitude cities migrate to the Arctic and form an ugly haze, but a new University of Utah study finds surprising evidence that polar explorers saw the same phenomenon as early as 1870. “The reaction from some colleagues – when we first mentioned that people had seen haze in the late 1800s – was that it was crazy,” says Tim Garrett, assistant professor of meteorology and senior author of the study. “Who would have thought the Arctic could be so polluted back then? Our instinctive reaction is to believe the world was a cleaner place 130 years ago.”

The all-electric Subaru R1e to be tested in NYC
March 18, 2008 09:23 AM - , Private Landowner Network

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.

World sanitation goals slip; nature can help
March 16, 2008 08:16 PM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - "The history of men is reflected in the history of sewers," French 19th century author Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables. "The sewer is the conscience of the city ... A sewer is a cynic. It tells everything." Judged by its sewers, the world is not doing well. Only 3 in 10 people now have a connection to a public sewerage system.ynic. It tells everything."

Ozone case shows Bush meddling in science: watchdogs
March 14, 2008 05:17 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's decision to intervene in setting air pollution standards is part of a longstanding administration pattern of meddling in environmental science, watchdog groups said on Friday. In cases this week dealing with polar bears, ozone smog and environmental research, groups that monitor these decisions faulted the Bush administration for slighting science in favor of politics.

The Dirty Side of a “Green” Industry
March 14, 2008 09:37 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

As people worldwide increasingly feel the heat of climate change, many are applauding the skyrocketing growth China’s fledging solar-cell industry. Solar power and other “green” technologies, by providing electricity from renewable energy sources like the sun and wind, create hope for a world free of coal-burning pollution and natural resource depletion. A recent Washington Post article, however, has revealed that China’s booming solar industry is not as green as one might expect. Many of the solar panels that now adorn European and American rooftops have left behind a legacy of toxic pollution in Chinese villages and farmlands.

New EPA Clean Air Standards Show Why Consumer Action is so Critical
March 14, 2008 09:28 AM - , Big Green Purse

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - the federal guardian of clean air - has issued new standards to control smog that scientists and environmental organizations are criticizing for not going far enough. EPA's action offers a stark reminder that, in the absence of meaningful regulations, consumer action is critical if we're going to reduce air pollution now and in the future.

Britain dismisses Japan climate change plan
March 14, 2008 08:13 AM - Reuters

MAKUHARI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan wants major emitters to fight climate change by targeting efficiency of industries, a trade ministry official said on Friday, but Britain dismissed it as the wrong approach. Japan is hosting a three-day meeting of 20 of the world's top greenhouse gas polluters and believes sectoral curbs on major polluting industries such as cement makers and power generators can rein in growing carbon dioxide emissions.

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