Sustainability

Exploring the Ocean for Minerals
November 7, 2012 09:38 AM - Chris Yeats, SciDevNet

Global demand for metals continues to grow, fuelled largely by increasing populations and the industrialisation and urbanisation of China and India. To meet this demand, the international minerals industry has had to search new areas of the globe for additional resources. As Africa — the last underexplored continent — becomes more developed, it is inevitable that the oceans, which cover three-quarters of our planet, will be explored and exploited for their mineral wealth. It is a question of when and how, not if.

The Reasons that the Great Barrier Reef Lost Massive Amounts of Coral
November 7, 2012 06:23 AM - Tia Ghose, MSNBC

The expansion of European settlement in Australia triggered a massive coral collapse at the Great Barrier Reef more than 50 years ago, according to a new study. The study, published Nov. 6 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that runoff from farms clouded the pristine waters off the Queensland coast and killed the natural branching coral species, leaving a stunted, weedy type of coral in its place. The findings suggest that decades before climate change and reef tourism, humans were disrupting the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef.

New Design Creates More Efficient Wind Turbines
November 5, 2012 09:10 AM - Nebil Zaghdoud, SciDevNet

A Tunisian invention that harvests wind energy through a design inspired by sailboats promises cheaper, more efficient wind energy. The bladeless wind turbine, the Saphonian, named after the wind divinity that was worshipped by the ancient Carthaginians, also promises to be more environmentally friendly than existing wind turbines that produce noise and kill birds through their blade rotation. Instead of rotating blades, the Saphonian's sail-shaped body collects the kinetic energy of the wind, Anis Aouini, the Saphonian's inventor, told SciDev.Net.

What Does Hurricane Sandy Show us about Shoreline Change?
November 4, 2012 08:08 AM - TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Contrarians argue that Hurricane Sandy isn't proof of climate change. But local scientists say the recent storm offers more damning evidence that Rhode Island's weather and landscape are undergoing a long-term transformation — one with a steep cost in dollars and human health. Perhaps the most significant and indisputable fact is that the Atlantic Ocean is warmer, so much so that a late-October storm didn't lose steam over what should have been a colder sea. Instead, Sandy gained speed and strength as it headed north and became an enormous force of destruction.

How Will the World Feed Itself in the Future?
November 3, 2012 08:52 AM - Mark Holderness, SciDevNet

The world's food security depends on the quality of the forward-looking agricultural studies we are carrying out today, says Mark Holderness. Climate change, population growth and competing demands for land and resources are putting great pressure on the world's food systems. Smallholder farmers in the developing world, who produce much of the food for the poorest people, are threatened by devastating droughts and floods, food price spikes, and persistent poverty. Scientific advances have greatly alleviated hunger and poverty. The introduction of higher yield crop varieties and better agricultural management practices have saved and improved millions of lives.

Iskander Malaysia: World's First "Smart Metropolis"
November 2, 2012 09:40 AM - Editor, ClickGreen

Malaysia is currently building the world's most advanced low-carbon mega-city comparable in size to the area of Luxembourg, with an expected population of 3 million by 2025. Iskandar Malaysia, the first "smart metropolis" of Southeast Asia founded on principles of social integration as well as low carbon emissions thanks to a green economy and green technologies, is a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations, international experts say.

"Fertilizer to Fork" Approach Contributes to Climate Change
November 1, 2012 01:20 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Growing, transporting, refrigerating, and wasting food accounts for somewhere between 19-29 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, according to a new analysis by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). In hard numbers that's between 9.8 and 16.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than double the fossil fuel emissions of China in the same year. Over 80 percent of food emissions came from production (i.e. agriculture) which includes deforestation and land use change.

Hope for Shark Finning Bans Continues
November 1, 2012 10:03 AM - Anna Taylor, The Ecologist

Last month in Cambridge, volunteers from the community group Fin Free Cambridge delivered a petition with over three and a half thousand signatures to the Guildhall. The group, and all the signatories, are hoping to make Cambridge the first UK city to ban the use of shark fins. Currently four businesses in Cambridge use shark fins and the UK is ranked 19th in the world for shark fin exports. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful activity, with around 73 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. The number of threatened shark species in the world has grown to more than 180 from a total of just 15 in 1996.

Economics of Coal Power and Wind are shifting in favor of Wind
November 1, 2012 07:33 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

While the cost of wind power has been dropping, a fascinating article in The Washington Post describes how coal mining is becoming more difficult and expensive. The coal industry cites environmental regulations as the main source of upward pressure on costs but WaPo writer Steven Mufson makes a convincing case that factors within the coal fields themselves are the main culprit. Mufson is careful to note that the trend varies from one coal field to another, but it is occurring in the key coal-producing region of Appalachia among others. Against the backdrop of falling wind prices, the rising cost of coal provides businesses with yet another incentive to explore ways of tapping the wind to power their operations.

Climate change mitigation 'far cheaper than inaction'
October 31, 2012 02:48 PM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet

Tackling the global climate crisis could reap significant economic benefits for both developed and developing countries, according to a new report. The impacts of climate change and a carbon-intensive economy cost the world around US$1.2 trillion a year — 1.6 per cent of the total global GDP (gross domestic product), states 'Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet'.

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