Sustainability

100 Million Electric Miles: Chevy Volts Reach Milestone
December 7, 2012 09:00 AM - Editor, Justmeans

Chevrolet Volt owners collectively have driven more than 100 million all-electric miles since the vehicle went on sale two years ago this month. The average Volt owner travels more than 65 percent of the time in pure electric mode as the car was designed — only using the gasoline-powered generator for longer trips. By charging regularly, Volt owners drive approximately 900 miles, or a month and a half, between fill-ups. However, many Volt owners quickly exceed that average, based on an EPA-estimated 98 MPGe that puts electric-only range at 35 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway.

Climate Change Update: Reports Show Growing Risks
December 7, 2012 06:34 AM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet

As the UN climate change talks continue in Doha, Qatar, several reports over the past month have highlighted a sombre picture of the Earth's changing climate, raising alarm bells in particular for the world's poorest regions. A report from the World Bank launched last month (18 November) warns that the planet "is on track for a four degrees Celsius warmer world" by 2100, marked by extreme heat waves, declining food stocks, loss of biodiversity and life-threatening sea level rise. This is double the generally accepted two degrees Celsius threshold beyond which catastrophic climate change impacts are expected.

The Race for Developing Plant-based Renewable Plastics
December 6, 2012 10:00 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The 20th century marked the great space race between Russia and the United States for domination in space exploration. Now the 21st century marks a new race: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo competing for leadership on plant-based renewable plastics. In March of 2010, PepsiCo announced the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable plant-based resources ensuring production of a new 100% recyclable bottle in 2012. PET plastics are typically labeled with the #1 code near the bottom of the containers and are commonly used for soft drinks, salad dressings, water, etc.

Apple Brings Some Manufacturing Jobs Back to US
December 6, 2012 06:23 AM - Raz Godelnik, Triple Pundit

When President Obama sat down for dinner with Silicon Valley's top executives in February 2011, he asked Steve Jobs what would it take to make iPhones in the U.S. According to reports, Jobs replied, "Those jobs aren't coming back." So, while it looks like Jobs was right, at least for now, about the iPhones, it might be that some jobs do come back to the U.S. as Apple is shifting its assembly of some of the new, ultra-thin iMacs to the U.S. The news came up after a new 21.5-inch iMac owner reported to Fortune that instead of the usual marking “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China,"the iMac was marked "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in the USA." It's not clear yet why the company decided to take this step and what it means for Apple. The only thing we know for sure right now, is that some jobs did come back to the U.S.

Doha Climate talks: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
December 5, 2012 06:31 AM - Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter, via WWF

Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday's talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference.

Savannah Ecosystems in Danger
December 4, 2012 04:45 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Few of the world's ecosystems are more iconic than Africa's sprawling savannahs home to elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and the undisputed king of the animal kingdom: lions. This wild realm, where megafauna still roam in abundance, has inspired everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Karen Blixen, and David Livingstone to Theodore Roosevelt. Today it is the heart of Africa's wildlife tourism and includes staunch defenders such as Richard Leakey, Michael Fay, and the Jouberts. Despite this, the ecosystem has received less media attention than imperiled ecosystems like rainforests. But a ground-breaking study in Biodiversity Conservation finds that 75 percent of these large-scale intact grasslands have been lost, at least from the lion's point of view.

Date Palm Leaves Could Improve Water Treatment Across the Middle East
December 3, 2012 11:58 AM - Rehab Abd Almohsen, SciDevNet

Date palm leaves — currently a waste product of date farming — could be used to remove pharmaceutical chemicals and dyes from hospital wastewater, say researchers from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman. The first hospital wastewater treatment pilot project is due to start in Oman early next year, and scientists are working to use this technology in both drinking water filters and for industrial wastewater treatment.

Electronic Waste - the Asia-Pacific Problem
December 1, 2012 08:48 AM - Crispin Maslog, SciDevNet

Instead of limiting imports of electronic waste, the Asia—Pacific region should set up a robust recycling system, says Crispin Maslog. Garbage in, garbage out is a phrase to describe what happens when computers find the wrong solution in response to the wrong input data. But when computers and other electronic products have outlived their usefulness, they literally do become rubbish and join an ever-growing mass of e-waste or e-scrap. Up to 50 million tonnes of this waste is generated worldwide every year. The biggest exporters of e-waste are Europe, Japan and the US. And much of it is being dumped on developing nations.

At UN Climate Talks, Researchers Insert Facts on How Food is Driving-and is Driven by-Climate Change
November 30, 2012 12:58 PM - Editor, ENN

Applying scientific answers to the consumer question, "What do our food choices have to do with heat, hurricanes, floods, and droughts?", the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is launching today a set of "Big Facts" that highlight the complex relationship between agriculture and climate change. This effort illustrates not only the profound and diverse impacts of the changing climate on marine fisheries, livestock, forests, biodiversity and food crops but also the effects of agricultural activities, including emissions from biofuel production, on climate change.

Cutting Christmas Trees in a National Forest - be sure you get a permit first!
November 29, 2012 10:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

What could be better than cutting your own fresh Christmas tree in a National Forest? Why does the government allow this? There are actually good forest management reasons to thin trees in some circumstances, so cutting a tree actually helps the Forest Service manage the forests. Be aware that to cut a tree in a National Forest requires a permit, and the NFS encourages safe practices. "Trees from your national forests brighten homes across the country every year," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We encourage people to be aware of changing weather conditions, dress accordingly and always follow safe cutting practices when looking for that perfect tree this holiday season." Each year, local Forest Service offices sell permits that allow individuals to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small diameter trees.

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