Sustainability

The economic benefits of mercury reductions
December 29, 2015 07:10 AM - Jennifer Chu, MIT News

Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments.

In the past several years, a global treaty and a domestic policy have been put in place to curb mercury emissions. But how will such policies directly benefit the U.S.? 

Wind power on the rise in U.S.
December 22, 2015 07:22 AM - Jeff Brady, NPR

The U.S. wind power industry is celebrating after reaching a new milestone in November: 70 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.

"That's enough to power about 19 million homes," says Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Space weather and the potential impacts on our infrastructures
December 19, 2015 07:10 AM - EUROPEAN COMMISSION JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE vie EurekAlert

The JRC has been looking into the risks of space weather impact on critical infrastructures. A new report explores the rail sector's vulnerability and the potential impacts, in particular through interdependencies with other infrastructures. Awareness among operators and regulators worldwide is currently limited and vulnerabilities across the rail sector need to be identified, authors say.

Solar activity affects the space environment surrounding the Earth. This so-called space weather can disrupt and damage critical infrastructure in space and on the ground, including satellites, aviation, road and marine transport, banking and power grids. Society relies on these infrastructures and services, which have become inter- dependent and are therefore more vulnerable to space weather. 

Climate change is impacting lakes faster than oceans
December 18, 2015 09:50 AM - JPL-NASA

Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new NASA and National Science Foundation-funded study of more than half of the world's freshwater supply.

Using more than 25 years of satellite temperature data and ground measurements of 235 lakes on six continents, this study -- the largest of its kind -- found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. The scientists say this is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, was announced Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Carmakers Are Ahead Of Emissions Standards
December 18, 2015 07:11 AM - Bill Chappell, NPR

Fuel economy is at record highs and carmakers have surpassed strict greenhouse gas emissions standards for the third straight year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which released a pair of annual reports about the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks Wednesday.

Overall, fuel economy for vehicles in the U.S. did not budge from last year's record high of 24.3 miles per gallon, the EPA says. The figure includes a new high of 20.4 mpg for trucks, vans and SUVs from model year 2014.

Using Solar Power in an Apartment or Rental
December 17, 2015 02:45 PM - Bryn Huntpalmer

Solar panels are great—if you own a home. For those still tied to the rental racket, though, the dream of going solar seems like just that: a distant dream. It’s virtually impossible to imagine most modern landlords springing for expensive setups when they won’t even fix a leak in a bathtub!

Some of us here at Modernize are apartment dwellers ourselves, and we solar-minded renters were getting tired of gazing at sweet panel setups like that kid who can never have a puppy because his brother is allergic. Luckily, urban solar is no longer a mere pipe dream: in fact, a new study shows that city-based solar has the potential to generate much more power than the area’s needs. And the solar field has not been deaf to the calls of a growing urban consumer market. A battery of devices now exist that are poised to change how renters power and heat their apartments—from kitchens all the way to the phones in their pockets.

Push for more hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell cars in California
December 17, 2015 06:40 AM - Sandia Labs

Drivers are seeing more hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on the road, but refueling stations for those vehicles are still few and far between. This is about to change, and one reason is a new testing device being validated at California refueling stations that will greatly accelerate station commissioning.

Developed by U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance device, or HyStEP, could reduce the time to commission new stations from months to just one week. HyStEP is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office as part of the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project.

Lettuce vs. Bacon: Which is Worse in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
December 15, 2015 07:07 AM - Shilo Rea, Carnegie Mellon University

Contrary to recent headlines — and a talk by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference — eating a vegetarian diet could contribute to climate change. In fact, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie. 

Top 10 Renewable Energy Producing States
December 14, 2015 07:17 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman , Triple Pundit

The U.S. has a chance to be a leader in renewable energy deployment given its sheer size and resources. And some states are leading the way. Olivet Nazarene University’s engineering department ranked the top 10 green states in terms of renewable energy. How does your state stack up? Did it make the list? Read on to find out.

Epson paper-recycling printer coming soon
December 14, 2015 06:42 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit

Printing boarding passes is sooooo 2005. Seriously, does anyone still print? My handy HP all-in-one printer collects more dust than print jobs. While it is true that most paper comes from managed forests, most of us just do not really have the need to print — a trend the paper industry, including the Paper and Packaging Board, whines about endlessly.

But sometimes we do need to print — for example, editing is easier for me to do on paper than staring at that laptop screen. And as an office tactic, distributing handouts at a meeting is a way to keep those rude colleagues’ eyes on the whiteboard and hands off their smartphones.

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