Sustainability

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.

Sustainable Seafood Guide: How to Save the Seas with Your Diet
April 4, 2012 09:25 PM - Heather-Leigh Logan, Sierra Club Green Home

Maybe you have heard that eating beef is one of the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint, much more so than driving. However, if you are like many of us, you may not have thought about how eating seafood affects the environment. Whether you live by the coast or thousands of miles from the nearest shoreline, the biggest impact you have on the oceans is through your diet. Beyond its health benefits and its cultural significance, there is no denying how delicious lobster with freshly-squeezed lemon tastes on a hot summer day. With a seemingly (and deceptively) abundant supply of inexpensive seafood, it can be hard to say no to that double order of fish tacos. But can the seas really provide an endless bounty of food?

Whole Foods Will No Longer Sell Overfished Species
April 4, 2012 08:35 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

Fish is an important source of protein around the world. Fish provides almost three billion people globally with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. However, many of the world's fish populations are in trouble. In fact, 53 percent of the world's fisheries are exploited and 32 percent are overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. Enter Whole Foods and its commitment to selling sustainable sea food.

General Mills Releases 2012 Global Responsibility Report
April 4, 2012 08:25 AM - General Mills, Justmeans

General Mills today released its 2012 Global Responsibility Report, detailing the company’s progress in the areas of health, communities and environment. The 2012 report can be viewed or downloaded at GeneralMills.com. Highlights from General Mills’ efforts to nourish lives around the globe this past year include: Reaching the halfway mark toward achieving three of the company’s 2015 global sustainability goals: water, solid waste and packaging. General Mills is more than 50 percent of the way to achieving a 20 percent reduction in its water usage rate and a 50 percent reduction in its solid waste generation rate. In addition, the company has improved the packaging for 27 percent of its sales volume —more than halfway toward the 40 percent goal.

Bottled water industry wages PR battle against tap water
April 4, 2012 06:41 AM - Eifion Rees, The Ecologist

Worried by a dip in sales, Nestlé is among the companies waging a million-pound public relations war to turn the public off tap water and back onto plastic bottled water Bottled water is the totemic bĂȘte noire of the environmental world, a multibillion-dollar industry that takes what in the west is clean and readily available from the tap, packages it up in non-biodegradable plastic and sells it back to consumers at hugely inflated prices. And yet sales continue to rise. In 2010, more than 2bn litres were consumed in the UK — 33 litres per person, a figure projected to rise to 40 litres by 2020.

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