Sustainability

Aerosols confirmed rising over India
April 18, 2013 09:49 AM - T.V. Padma, SciDevNet

While satellite data has shown aerosols — tiny polluting particles in the air — to be rising over India, a new study based on primary data gathered from measuring instruments installed in a network of stations confirms the trend. The study, by a team from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, published online in Geophysical Research Letters last month (14 March), is based on the principle that aerosols absorb the sun's rays as they reach the earth's surface.

Lettuce Turnip the Radish Beet and Rocket
April 17, 2013 10:59 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

Permaculture is the branch of ecological design, which promotes development of sustainable and self-sufficient natural ecosystems. Focusing on twelve tenets, or design principles, that center on taking care of the earth while setting limits on consumption and redistributing surplus, the movement has yet to gain mainstream scientific acceptance. However, with help from a new album, "Permaculture — A Rhymer's Manual," Formidable Vegetable Sound System hopes to bring attention to permaculture and it's principles through their unique musical stylings. Globetrotting permaculture troubadour, Charlie Mgee has composed an entire album about sustainability, a topic most artists wouldn't think of touching without sounding too corny or too righteous. But who knew this new genre of edutainment (education and entertainment) would catch on? And who knew songs about permaculture could sound so cool and refreshing?

U.S. Air Force is Really Reducing Energy Use
April 17, 2013 09:00 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

The U.S. Air Force is the largest energy user in the federal government. The federal government accounts for about one percent of total U.S. energy use, most of that is used by the Department of Defense (DOD). The Air Force accounts for 48 percent of the DOD's energy costs, which equates to about 2.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel, 64 trillion BTUs a year, and 35 metric tons of carbon. In 2012, the Air Force spent over $9 billion on energy, and 85 percent went to aviation fuel, which accounted for eight percent of the Air Force's budget. In 2003, energy was only three percent of the total budget.

Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Economies
April 16, 2013 06:50 AM - Editor, Oceana

According to government estimates, 138,500 whales and dolphins will soon be injured and possibly killed along the East Coast if exploration companies are allowed to use dangerous blasts of noise to search for offshore oil and gas. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering allowing geophysical companies, working on behalf of oil and gas companies, to use seismic airguns to search for offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, from Delaware to Florida. These airguns use compressed air to generate intense pulses of sound, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.

Colleges Recover 90 Million Pounds of Materials During RecycleMania
April 15, 2013 02:48 PM - Editor, Justmeans

Recycling rivalries added another level of "madness" to March this year, as 523 schools competed in the RecycleMania Tournament, which harnesses the competitive spirit around sports rivalries and uses them to increase campus recycling and waste reduction. Colleges and universities across the United States and Canada participated in the eight-week competition in which schools are ranked according to how much recycling, trash and food waste they collect.

Bricks from Sahara Sand
April 12, 2013 06:06 AM - Julia Harte, GreenProphet

Although the Sahara desert used to be a green retreat for giraffes and hippos 5,000 years ago, it is now a giant, sometimes rolling landscape of sand. A lot of sand. In fact, roughly two thirds of Algeria is made up of sand, according to the authors of a study published in the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. And they believe it can be used to produce a sustainable building material for a limping construction industry. That's right, they want to turn the dunes into bricks, and they already have a pretty good formula. Since Algeria possesses very little in the way of aggregate materials that can be used in the construction industry, researchers from the University of Kasdi Merbah and the Polytechnic School of Algiers developed a new kind of brick made with little more than water, sand sourced from their own backyard — so to speak — and a binder.

Global Forest Watch 2.0 will help monitor our forests
April 10, 2013 06:36 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

World Resources Institute (WRI) today unveiled a long-awaited tool that could revolutionize global forest monitoring, reports the UN Forum on Forests, which is meeting this week in Istanbul, Turkey. Global Forest Watch 2.0 is a platform that combines near-real time satellite data, forestry data, and user-submitted information to provide the most complete picture of the world's forests ever assembled. The system has been developed over the last several years as a collaborative effort between WRI and other partners, including Google, the University of Maryland and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

New Materials Promise to Dramatically Drop Photovoltaic Prices
April 9, 2013 08:41 AM - Cyrus Patten, Global Warming is Real

What is the single most significant barrier to widespread use of alternative energy? Is it the right wing climate change skeptics? No. It's economics. If there is not money to be made at the same scale as in the fossil fuel industry, and if renewable, clean energy does not become cheaper than fossil fuels, alternative energy doesn't stand a chance in the free market.

Yum! Brands announces 'greener' paper policy
April 8, 2013 08:51 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

KCF, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell policy excludes fiber from conversion of old-growth rainforests to plantations. After a prolonged campaign by environmental activists, the world's largest fast food company has announced a new sourcing policy that will shift it toward greener packaging materials.

EU to require efficiency increases for boilers
April 8, 2013 06:22 AM - Editor, EurActiv

A below-the-radar vote in an obscure EU committee to set new efficiency standards for central heating boilers has sealed energy savings that could equal 10% of Europe's energy consumption by 2020, green groups say. After more than five years of haggling, the Ecodesign directive's regulatory committee in March voted through a text setting minimum green requirements for boilers and water heaters, which also forces them to be labelled for their energy savings potential. Stéphane Arditi, a senior policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), told EurActiv that the ensuing emissions reductions would be "massive".

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