Sustainability

Expect the Unexpected to happen with Climate Change
May 15, 2012 06:37 AM - Guest Post, Global Warming is Real

An increasingly common fallback position once climate change "skeptics" accept that the planet is warming and humans are the dominant cause is the myth that climate change won't be bad. In fact, this particular myth comes in at #3 on our list of most used climate myths. It's an ideal fallback position because it allows those who reject the body of scientific evidence to believe that if they are wrong on the science, it's okay, because the consequences won't be dire anyway. One of my colleagues, Molly Henderson recently completed a Masters Degree program class on scientific research which focused on climate change, which she aced (way to go, Molly!). For her final research paper, she examined the consequences of climate change on the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the US Great Lakes region.

Cardamon cultivation impacting tropical forests
May 14, 2012 07:40 AM - Smriti Daniel, SciDevNet

Cultivation of cardamom, a high value spice crop, can take a toll on evergreen forests in tropical countries, independent studies in Sri Lanka and India have shown. Apart from disturbing biodiversity, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), plantations affect water and soil quality in tropical forests, the studies said. Researchers from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom studying abandoned cardamom plantations in the Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR) in the uplands of central Sri Lanka found adverse effects lingering decades after cultivation was banned.

Solar Power and Desalinization Innovations tested in Egypt
May 12, 2012 07:06 AM - Rehab Abd Almohsen, SciDevNet

The Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) has announced the launch of a pilot Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project to test units that can simultaneously produce electricity and desalinate water. The four-year project test project, known as "Multi-Purpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar", or MATS, has received 22 million Euros (US$28 million) from the European Union under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and will also involve European universities and companies. This will be used to build and test MATS units at a site in Burj Al Arab, a desert area near Alexandria. The units can be powered using both solar energy, and renewable energy sources such as biomass and biogas. The test facility will aim to generate one megawatt of electrical power and 250 cubic metres of desalinated water per day.

Highlights of Cleantech in Dubai
May 11, 2012 06:10 AM - Shawn Lesser, Clean Techies

The United Arab Emirates, much like some of the other countries throughout the Middle East, is doing what it can to ensure it becomes much more energy efficient and starts using more renewable sources of energy. Dubai, much like its neighbor Abu Dhabi, is doing what it can to ensure the entire state becomes much more clean technology friendly. This includes adopting initiatives, creating organizations dedicated to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and creating new project to help the state reach its renewable energy and energy efficient goals. Listed below are just ten of the highlights of clean technology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 1 ) Dubai Targets Five Percent Renewable Energy by 2030. A majority of the existing power supply in Dubai comes from natural gas and the energy demands in the state have increased over the last ten years because of megaprojects as well as a growth in high-rise buildings. In 2010, officials announced new power types to diversity energy sources in Dubai. One of the latest plans is to have five percent of the power supply come from renewable sources of energy by the year 2030. This will help the United Arab Emirates’ overall goal when it comes to renewable energy use.

Algae fuel potential greater than thought
May 10, 2012 06:35 AM - Charlotte Dormer, Planet Earth

For algae to power our cars and planes, production needs to be low carbon and cost effective, which means working with natural processes, not against them, say scientists. Algae could become an important source of sustainable biofuel, as production doesn't compete with food crops for land. But we may need to change the way we grow algae from closed systems to open ponds if it is to be low-carbon and cost-effective. This is because current algae production in closed systems — usually for cosmetic ingredients — uses too much energy keeping the ecosystem isolated from the surrounding environment.

Major Natural Gas Project approved for Uinta Basin, Utah
May 9, 2012 07:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved this week a major natural gas project in Utah’s Uinta Basin that could develop more than 3,600 new wells over the next decade. The project will support up to 4,300 jobs during development. By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Secretary Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uintah County, Utah. The decision follows a landmark comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that resulted in a balanced approach to energy production and environmental protection that will boost America's energy economy. The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres — but will bring new surface disturbance to just five percent of that area (approximately 8,100 acres) as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.

Israel To Help India Clean Up The Ganges River
May 6, 2012 09:43 AM - Shifra Mincer, GreenProphet

Young Israeli tourists are so common in India that in certain regions, restaurants hang signs and write menus in Hebrew. But Israel is now in the process of sending more than just tourists to the region. At the end of April, Israeli news site Ynet reported that Israel would be sending engineers, researchers and representatives from water technologies companies to help India clean up the notoriously-polluted Ganges River. The river has become an increasingly problematic site for India as it has caused the spread of infections and diseases. Since February, the Indian government has been gearing up a campaign to clean up the river, promoting its importance as a religious site and also as a freshwater resource.

Greenland's Ice Melting Overestimated
May 4, 2012 07:32 AM - Richard Harris, NPR

A new study has some reassuring news about how fast Greenland's glaciers are melting away. Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise sea level by 20 feet, and they are melting as the planet warms, so there's a lot at stake. A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland really caught people's attention. In short order, this slow-moving stream of ice suddenly doubled its speed. It started dumping a whole lot more ice into the Atlantic. Other glaciers also sped up. "Some people feared if they could double their speed over two or three years, they could keep doubling and doubling and doubling and reach very fast speeds," says Ian Joughin of the University of Washington's Polar Ice Center.

Are there toxic chemicals in your gardening equipment and supplies?
May 4, 2012 06:45 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Spring time is here and a lot of people are indulging in gardening. But did you know that there are a lot of chemicals that may be harmful to your health in your gardening supplies? According to Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, high amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after it sat outside in the sun for just a few days.

GMO Labeling to Go Before Voters in California
May 3, 2012 01:34 PM - Georgina Gustin, Strait to the Source, Organic Consumers Association

It doesn't take an agricultural expert to know that you can't grow vegetables without water. So it wasn't surprising that after hundreds of people marching under the banner "Occupy the Farm" took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station on April 22, UC officials responded by shutting off water to the site. The next day, a late-season storm brought a half-inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, irrigating the thousands of vegetable starts in the ground and lifting the spirits of the urban farming activists who are determined to save the site from development. Score: Occupiers, 1 - UC administrators, 0. Social change activists in Berkeley, Calif., have always been ahead of the curve. Today, May Day, is the spring reemergence for the Occupy movement as activists around the United States engage in work stoppages, street marches, and various forms of civil disobedience to press their demands for a more equitable economy. The folks with Occupy the Farm got started early. On Earth Day, they marched from Berkeley's Ohlone Park to a five-acre plot of land in the adjacent bedroom community of Albany. They cut the locks on the gates of the UC-Berkeley and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field trial plot, pulled up nearly an acre of thick mustard growing there, and got busy working the soil with a pair of rented rototillers. Then, scores of volunteers planted 150-foot rows of lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and leafy greens. By the end of Earth Day, the Bay Area had a new urban farm.

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