Sustainability

Sales of Volt and Hybrids Surge in March
April 12, 2012 07:06 AM - Phil Covington, Triple Pundit

March turned out to be a big month for auto sales in the United States. Reuters reported that total vehicle sales were up 13 percent for the month, ending the best quarter in terms of total sales since 2008. The industry sees this as a sign of general economic recovery, but with high average gas prices prevailing at the pumps, hybrid cars and plug-in vehicles enjoyed a strong month, indicating fuel economy matters to many when making new car choices.

Do protected areas for wildlife really work?
April 11, 2012 07:14 AM - Eifion Rees, The Ecologist

Can national parks and marine protected areas safeguard endangered wildlife against the growing pressures of population growth and climate change? Designated a national park in 1778 but safeguarded unofficially since the 13th century, the world's oldest protected area is Mongolia’s sacred Bogd Khan Mountain, overlooking Ulan Bator. The Emperor of Manchur’s 18th-century edict was designed to prevent mortals from desecrating the realms of the divine. Building was restricted, logging and hunting banned.

Is that Pashmina cloned?
April 10, 2012 06:50 AM - Athar Parvaiz, SciDevNet

The successful cloning of the unique but dwindling 'pashmina' goat, prized for its fine wool, has encouraged veterinary scientists to use similar methods to conserve other endangered animal species native to Himalayan Kashmir. When a team of veterinary scientists from the centre for animal biotechnology at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST), Srinagar, cloned the pashmina goat, last month (March), it revived hopes for saving a species whose numbers have been declining.

Laser "Un-printer" Wipes Paper Clean
April 9, 2012 10:47 AM - Sabina Cao, Guest Contributor

Let's talk about recycling. Despite our efforts to cut back on paper usage and production, the effects of forestry and emissions from recycling plants still heavily harm the environment. However, the paper production cycle could be changing now, thanks to lasers. Researchers at the University of Cambridge announced last week that they have discovered a way to remove toner ink from paper without damage using lasers.

Plug-in Electric Cars had better early adoption rate than hybrids
April 9, 2012 07:10 AM - John Gartner, Matter Network, Clean Techies

The failure to reach the sales targets for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf has led to considerable finger pointing about so-far disappointing attempts to mass market plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). PEVs have increasingly become fodder for politics as every misstep reinforces what opponents call their inevitable failure. But the real problem was in the original lofty expectations for PEV penetration by both the auto makers and the government, which were unreachable given the cost of the vehicles. As we've said all long, the government's projection of 1 million PEVs on US roads by 2015 was too aggressive given the short timeframe to get new vehicles to market and the nascent state of the technology .

In Dubai, Camels may work to control Mangrove trees
April 8, 2012 02:07 PM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet

Too many mangroves is not a good thing — at least not at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, where they were introduced in 1990. So an ecologist at Dubai’s Wildlife Protection office has proposed using camels to trim back the excess canopies that have buried wader feeding areas. Kevin Hyland told The National that camels used to have access to the sanctuary before it was fenced off in 2002, and that reintroducing them would help restore the site’s sensitive ecology without disrupting bird life. Hyland emphasizes that the camels would be introduced as part of a careful management program, and that they will not be left to run amok. "The key phrase in the whole proposal is 'managed camel grazing,'" the ecologist told the paper. "It's not, 'let's just chuck in 100 camels, because we don't want to destroy the mangrove canopy."

Spring has Sprung, it's getting warmer
April 8, 2012 07:27 AM - NPR

Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record. While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications. In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule.

Nest Thermostat 2.0 Brings New Energy-Saving Features
April 6, 2012 07:07 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

The Nest Thermostat has been available since last December. It has a number of very unique features that make it a great energy saver out of the gate. Now a software update that is automatically pushed out to Nest thermostats through their Wi-Fi internet connection brings enhanced capabilities. The new software update Nest 2.0 includes: Enhanced Energy History, a more in-depth look at your usage Airwave, a specific energy-saving application for the cooling season Additional remote features via web, iPhone and Android Updated internal menus The software update will be downloaded automatically over the next couple of days through the user’s Wi-Fi connection. Users should also be sure to update the applications on their mobile devices as well. Nest Labs was formed by industrial designers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, both formerly of Apple. They decided that applying some Silicon Valley magic to the lowly thermostat would attract tech-oriented homeowners concerned about saving energy and money and reducing their burden on the planet

Classes Make Bicycling in Los Angeles Easier
April 5, 2012 09:03 AM - Courtney Hayden, Sierra Club Green Home

It is 9 am and traffic is crawling on the 101 freeway...and on the 405, and on the 118. Sunshine pours through the windshield, turning your mind to thoughts of walking through the Santa Monica Mountains and biking down to the beach. Minutes are ticking by, marked only by the occasional horn honking loudly behind you. As for the gas you put in the car earlier? It is working its way towards "E." There is a way to reduce your fossil fuels consumption and make daily commutes enjoyable: bicycling. And a new organization is here to help make biking in Los Angeles easier. If you are new to biking or if the thought of peddling down crowded LA streets intimidates you, Sustainable Streets offers free safety courses to help ease your transition into biking. Courses are available in Burbank, West Hollywood, and along the beach in Santa Monica. Classes start with four hours in the classroom, followed by one hour on a simulated road, and then almost five hours of actual street riding.

Wind Tops 10 Percent Share of Electricity in Five States
April 5, 2012 07:10 AM - J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute

A new picture is emerging in the U.S. power sector. In 2007, electricity generation from coal peaked, dropping by close to 4 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Over the same time period, nuclear generation fell slightly, while natural gas-fired electricity grew by some 3 percent annually and hydropower by 7 percent. Meanwhile, wind-generated electricity grew by a whopping 36 percent each year. Multiple factors underlie this nascent shift in U.S. electricity production, including the global recession, increasing energy efficiency, and more economically recoverable domestic natural gas. But ultimately it is the increasing attractiveness of wind as an energy source that will drive it into prominence. Wind power accounted for just 2.9 percent of total electricity generation in the United States in 2011. In five U.S. states, however, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2010. In 2011, Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind’s share was 15 percent.

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