Sustainability

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.

Bee, extinct in the UK to be re-introduced
April 26, 2012 05:35 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The return of a bumblebee species extinct in the UK for nearly a quarter of a century has moved a big step forward. A team of conservationists is setting off to Sweden this weekend on a mission to collect up to 100 short-haired bumblebee queens before releasing them at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve in Kent later this Spring. The project to return the bumblebee Bombus subterraneus to the UK is a partnership between Natural England, the RSPB, Hymettus and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and forms part of the wider Natural England-funded Species Recovery Programme.

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 - María 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.

McGreen, the Greening of McDonald's
April 23, 2012 10:18 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit

Can McDonald's and "Best of Green" be in the same sentence? At first it sounds like the mockumentary sequel to Best in Show. After all, those big golden arches are not only easy to see from the road, they are still to critics a figurative symbol of a dubious food supply, sprawl and our disposable society. The company is slow to change, too. Not only does it take a new item forever to appear on the menu, but ideas to make the company a more sustainable company are slow to catch on even if they are still just a dream. But McDonald's is changing. More of its locations are actually pleasant and even edgy, have wifi and are not the drab plastic prisons in which you spent your 1980s teenage years. On other fronts some catching up is still in order, as with its hazardous attempts at social media campaigns that have left its marketers’ faces as red as those strawberry sundaes.

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.

How Can we Separate Man Made Greenhouse Gases from Those Naturally Occurring?
April 21, 2012 10:00 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

A research team has developed a new monitoring system to analyze and compare emissions from man-made fossil fuels and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases. The University of Colorado Boulder-led team looked at atmospheric gas measurements taken every two weeks from aircraft over a six-year period over the northeast United States to collect samples of CO2 and other environmentally important gases.

Are "improved" Cookstoves in Pakistan better than the traditional ones?
April 20, 2012 06:43 AM - Ashfaq Yusfzai and T. V. Padma, SciDevNet

Programmes to provide rural Pakistani households with so-called improved cookstoves have had a muted response due to a lack of awareness among target communities — particularly among the women who do the cooking, a study has found. The finding comes as separate research suggests that some improved cookstove models actually cause more pollution than traditional mud stoves. Traditional stoves — which run on biomass such as crop waste, dung and twigs — are known to cause indoor air pollution. Indoor and outdoor air pollution have been identified by the WHO has causing an estimated two million deaths each year.

Enzyme Batteries
April 19, 2012 03:39 PM - Editor, ENN

New research at Concordia University is bringing the world one step closer to cleaner energy. It is now possible to extend the length of time a battery like enzyme can store energy from seconds to hours, as shown in a study published in the Journal of The American Chemical Society. Concordia Associate Professor László Kálmán — along with his colleagues in the Department of Physics, graduate students Sasmit Deshmukh and Kai Tang — has been working with an enzyme found in bacteria that is crucial for capturing solar energy. Light induces a charge separation in the enzyme, causing one end to become negatively charged and the other positively charged, much like in a battery. The hope is that such batteries are more sustainable in the long run with less environmental effects.

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