Sustainability

Connecting Productivity of Office Workers and Climate Change
September 29, 2014 09:57 AM - John Alker, The Ecologist

Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, a new report shows that green building design makes employees happier and more productive. There would seem to be no connection between the productivity of office workers and the great challenge of climate change. But a report published by the World Green Building Council suggests otherwise.

Reducing global trade would cut carbon emissions
September 27, 2014 11:12 AM - John Weeks, The Ecologist

If the world's leaders really cared about climate change, there's one easy way to reduce emissions, writes John Weeks - drop the obsession with increasing trade, and all the pollution that goes with it. A world based on local production, consumption and finance will be a better one for people and the environment. Let us join Keynes to imagine if we can a world in which goods are 'homespun' and finance is 'primarily national'. If we cannot imagine such a world, there is little hope for the planet. The Obama administration has proposed several ad hoc multi-country economic agreements, and in doing so has abandoned de facto the World Trade Organization (WTO) as insufficiently malleable to its interests.

A concrete idea: MIT develops better, greener, concrete
September 25, 2014 01:06 PM - David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

Concrete is the world's most-used construction material, and a leading contributor to global warming, producing as much as one-tenth of industry-generated greenhouse-gas emissions. Now a new study suggests a way in which those emissions could be reduced by more than half - and the result would be a stronger, more durable material. The findings come from the most detailed molecular analysis yet of the complex structure of concrete, which is a mixture of sand, gravel, water, and cement. Cement is made by cooking calcium-rich material, usually limestone, with silica-rich material - typically clay - at temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius, yielding a hard mass called "clinker." This is then ground up into a powder. The decarbonation of limestone, and the heating of cement, are responsible for most of the material's greenhouse-gas output.

Seattle Assesses Fine for Wasting Food
September 25, 2014 09:01 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

The push for increased sustainable methods can be seen everywhere these days — certainly when it comes to local efforts to pare down on what we toss in the landfill. The city of Seattle has also embraced the composting idea with a bit more of a creative edge: In an effort to encourage residents to stop wasting food, the city council passed an ordinance this last Monday that allows households to be fined $1 each time that garbage collectors find more than 10 percent of organic waste in their garbage bins.

Whooping Cranes being raised and released by the US Geological Survey
September 24, 2014 07:51 AM - USGS Newsroom

Four whooping crane chicks raised in captivity began their integration into the wild Saturday as part of the continuing effort to increase the wild population of this endangered species. The cranes, hatched and raised by their parents at the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, were released on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Encouraging planting trees will sequester carbon and conserve habitat
September 23, 2014 04:00 PM - Oregon State University

Rewarding landowners for converting farmland into forest will be key to sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat, according to a new study by Oregon State University and collaborators. Current land-use trends in the United States will significantly increase urban land development by mid-century, along with a greater than 10 percent reduction in habitat of nearly 50 at-risk species, including amphibians, large predators and birds, said David Lewis, co-author of the study and an environmental economist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Carbon Capture Technology and Climate Action
September 22, 2014 11:39 AM - David Biello from Yale Environment360

Some scientists and analysts are touting carbon capture and storage as a necessary tool for avoiding catastrophic climate change. But critics of the technology regard it as simply another way of perpetuating a reliance on fossil fuels. For more than 40 years, companies have been drilling for carbon dioxide in southwestern Colorado. Time and geology had conspired to trap an enormous bubble of CO2 that drillers tapped, and a pipeline was built to carry the greenhouse gas all the way to the oil fields of west Texas. When scoured with the CO2, these aged wells gush forth more oil, and much of the CO2 stays permanently trapped in its new home underneath Texas.

Study looks at adapting to climate change
September 21, 2014 07:48 AM - ecoRI News staff

Rapid climate change and an increasing range of climate impacts are already being felt along the U.S. coast, and new research suggests that Northeast coastal waters may be more vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification than previously thought. A team of scientists with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) recently received a $1 million grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to develop science-based climate-change adaptation solutions for coastal communities and to partner with organizations to help these communities anticipate change and prepare to adapt.

Global Population May Surpass 13 Billion by End of Century
September 19, 2014 07:10 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

By 2100, over 13 billion people could be walking the planet. That's the conclusion of a new study published today in Science, which employed UN data to explore the probability of various population scenarios. The new study further demolishes the long-held theory that human population growth will quit growing by mid-century and then fall. "Analysis of these data reveals that, contrary to previous literature, world population is unlikely to stop growing this century," reads the paper.

Arctic Cod fishery recovery aided by Norway and Russia
September 19, 2014 06:39 AM - John Waldman, Yale Environment360

The prime cod fishing grounds of North America have been depleted or wiped out by overfishing and poor management. But in Arctic waters, Norway and Russia are working cooperatively to sustain a highly productive — and profitable - northern cod fishery. What years of dwelling in the cold Atlantic had amassed, an army of knife-wielding, white-suited Norwegian factory workers were taking apart in just minutes. In a consummate display of optimization, streams of fish parts were whisked along on conveyor belts around and above me, with various cuts destined for their most appropriate markets. Nothing was wasted.

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