Sustainability

"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'.

'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish
October 26, 2012 08:47 AM - Rachel Reeves, SciDevNet

A pilot aquaponics experiment is now underway in the Cook Islands that has the potential to become the South Pacific region's best chance for preventing food shortages. First announced during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year (27—31 August), the pilot project combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in symbiosis, a strategy that can be replicated in other island nations. The project's long-term objective is to give Pacific islanders — who are facing climate-related issues such as drought and fish poisoning — a way to sustainably grow crops using minimal water and no pesticides.

Survey Shows Business Community Moving Toward Sustainability
October 26, 2012 06:18 AM - RICHARD MATTHEWS, Global Warming is Real

Initially, corporate sustainability was a tertiary practice that focused on reporting; increasingly, it is influencing core strategic business decisions. A proactive stance on sustainability is becoming a competitive necessity to attract investors, source talent, meet the requirements of supply chain partners, and address growing consumer demand. Companies are seeing the value of operating in ways that address environmental concerns, health and safety issues and operational risks. They increasingly understand that good product stewardship, responsible energy consumption, and low carbon practices are necessary components of a competitive business. Although a sustainability strategy can be onerous, it is an increasingly essential aspect of a viable business. Engaging sustainability requires that companies are innovative and that they know consumers. Obviously, they must avoid greenwashing and they must tie sustainability to their core business. Some of the contemporary realities that are emerging around the issue of sustainability involve collaborative approaches and securing appropriate external certification.

Reconstructing Communities with Green Buildings
October 25, 2012 12:35 PM - Noelle Hirsch, Sierra Club Green Home

Green building is taking the construction industry by storm, and its benefits are perhaps best seen in disaster-related rebuilds. The pros of sustainable and energy-saving construction are easy for most to identify. Reducing energy consumption with efficient building materials, household appliances, and heating and cooling systems benefits the environment and saves the building owner money. Green buildings often last longer, too, meaning they won't require frequent updates and remodels. However, most people become initially concerned with green building startup costs. In this sense, disaster zones can be something of a blank slate for developers: When towns or cities need rebuilds, developers often have an easier time incentivizing home and business owners to construct with water and energy efficiency in mind.

Bringing Rain Gardens to Urban Areas
October 25, 2012 08:40 AM - Laura Laker, The Ecologist

Water management is a major issue in large urban areas, where after heavy rainfall, rooftops, streets and pavements act as funnels. This sends huge volumes of water very quickly into drainage systems, putting pressure on rivers and increasing the risk of flooding. In contrast, undeveloped land absorbs and utilises water, thus slowing its progress to rivers. It is this natural bioretention that our towns and cities must learn to mimic. Rain gardens do just that. In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding.

Extent of Range is a Key Factor in Extinction Risk for Ocean Animals
October 24, 2012 05:56 AM - Stanford University via ScienceDaily

What makes some ocean animals more prone to extinction than others? A new study of marine fossils provides a clue. An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small geographic ranges have been consistently hard hit -- even when populations are large, the authors report. The oceans represent more than 70% of Earth's surface. But because monitoring data are harder to collect at sea than on land, we know surprisingly little about the conservation status of most marine animals. By using the fossil record to study how ocean extinctions occurred in the past, we may be better able to predict species' vulnerability in the future.

Electric Vehicles: Transitioning to a Sustainable Future
October 22, 2012 03:41 PM - Cameron Scherer, Worldwatch Institute

The US has a car culture. In 2010, 95% of American households owned a car and 85% of Americans drove to work each day. This is radically different from the lifestyle most Americans had after World War II, when 40% of Americans did not own cars. China and India are rapidly adopting the US living standard, and cars are flooding the streets. In 2011, China had 100 million cars on its streets, or about 10 percent of the more than 1 billion cars on streets worldwide. On average, 9.51 million automobiles were added each year between 2006 and 2010, exceeding the government’s ability to add roads and prepare for the increasing demand on transport infrastructure. Reacting to this mismatch, cities are establishing car quotas to attempt to slow the growth. This year in Beijing, for example, a car-quota system was put into effect, allowing the registration of no more than 240,000 new cars annually.

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