Sustainability

Germany overtakes the UK in offshore wind energy
February 1, 2015 08:37 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

Germany will this year for the first time connect more new offshore wind installations than Britain after energy operators scrapped a string of projects planned for UK waters.

Despite having more installed offshore capacity than the rest of the world combined, the UK’s lack of new wind farms through 2015 means it will now be outstripped by Germany – a nation with access to territorial waters less than a tenth of the size of the UK’s.
 

Food Industry has long way to go when it comes to using recyclable and compostable packaging
January 30, 2015 03:15 PM - Eliza Barclay, The Salt: NPR

Let's face it: We are people who consume many of our meals on the go. That means we're not eating on real plates or bowls but out of plastic containers and paper boxes. And perhaps daily, we drink our coffees and sodas out of plastic or plastic-lined paper cups. Overall, Americans recycle at the lamentable rate of 34.5 percent and recycle plastic packaging at the even measlier rate of 14 percent. So the majority of that food packaging is ending up in landfills, or on the street as litter, where it may eventually get swept into the ocean. There, our wrappers and cans and cups become a much bigger problem — a direct threat to marine life that may ingest it and die.

Jet Fuel from Algae?
January 29, 2015 08:52 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study published in the journal Energy & Fuels. The researchers, led by Greg O’Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, exploited an unusual and untapped class of chemical compounds in the algae to synthesize two different fuel products, in parallel, from a single algae.

New analysis explores trends in global plastic consumption and recycling
January 28, 2015 03:35 PM - Gaelle Gourmelon, Worldwatch Institute

For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article.

Electric range-extended trucks can double fuel economy
January 26, 2015 04:54 AM - Phil Covington , Triple Pundit

When it comes to electric vehicles, we hear plenty about electric cars being launched into the consumer market but not too much about commercial vehicles. Maybe that’s because not too many people have to concern themselves with what type of delivery or garbage truck they are going to buy next. Nevertheless, such considerations matter, since the electrification of commercial fleets promises considerably larger efficiency gains than cars.

Four-year-old California company Wrightspeed, started by Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, has developed a technology that zeros in on a specific niche of the commercial fleet market, bringing both fuel savings and emissions mitigation for commercial fleet operators.

Rutgers study shows sea level rising faster than thought
January 20, 2015 08:23 AM - Rutgers University

Researchers at Rutgers and Harvard universities found that between 1901 and 1990 sea-level rose at a rate of about 1.2 millimeters per year, compared to about 1.5 millimeters as calculated in earlier estimates. The scientists say that sea levels are now rising at a rate of 3 millimeters every year.

The new research, “Probabilistic Reanalysis of 20th-century Sea-level Rise,” takes a new look at global tide gauge data. Using a combination of computer modeling and statistical analysis, the researchers sought to close data gaps in accounting for the sources of sea-level rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the international group charting the Earth’s climate trends – has come up short in fully explaining the source of new water flows to the oceans in past decades.

Why Certification is Critical for the Industrialization of Bamboo
January 19, 2015 12:35 PM - Contributing editor

We’ve been down this path before; a new species, a new crop, a new product. A silver bullet plant that can be grown on degraded land and provide exactly what industry needs. And yet typically such plants go one of two ways; the way of Jatropha, which after a few years of being touted as the miracle plant of the biofuel industry, simply faded into nothingness; or the way of oil palm, where industrialization boomed, and with it came a mile wide trench of environmental devastation.

No plant is inherently green. And bamboo is no different. It can be grown well, and sustainably. Or it can be the cause of deforestation, conversion of natural ecosystems, and subsequent environmental and social degradation.

So why is bamboo forging a path that is likely to be different? Simply, the foremost player currently responsible for the plant’s industrialization at a global and commercial scale is setting a benchmark of sustainability in front as they pioneer and grow the plant at scale, rather than in their wake as an after thought.

Global wheat yields threatened by warming with serious consequences
January 19, 2015 08:23 AM - Paul Brown, The Ecologist

Just one degree of global warming could cut wheat yields by 42 million tonnes worldwide, around 6% of the crop, writes Paul Brown - causing devastating shortages of this staple food.

Market shortages would cause price rises. Many developing countries, and the hungry poor within them, would not be able to afford wheat or bread.

Planting Milkweed for the Monarch's? Be sure to use the native species!
January 18, 2015 11:04 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Sometimes we do the wrong thing for the right reasons. That appears to be the case for countless Americans hoping to aid the monarch butterfly. Hearing that pesticides have destroyed the milkweed that monarchs rely on for survival, sympathetic animal lovers have attempted to do their part to support the butterflies by growing milkweed in their own gardens. Alas, emerging research suggests that this well-intentioned plan appears to actually be harming the species even further.

Unfortunately, most of the milkweed purchased for this purpose is the “wrong kind.” This kind, known as tropical milkweed, is popular with gardening companies since it continues to bloom longer than the type to which monarch butterflies are accustomed. While monarchs are still more than content to eat this milkweed, that doesn’t make it good for them.

European study shows biofuel production can increase with low impacts
January 16, 2015 07:07 AM - EurActiv

EU countries could increase their production of biofuels with a minimum impact on the environment, Utrecht University scientists concluded in a study published on Tuesday (13 January). 

Biofuels are the main green alternative to fossil fuels used in transport, but they compete with feed crops that share the same agricultural land.

As a consequence, forests are being turned into farmland to increase the terrestrial surface for planting more food crops, a phenomenon known as indirect land use change (ILUC). 

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