Sustainability

Climate Change predicted to reduce output of California Hydro-electric plants
August 8, 2012 07:36 AM - ScienceDaily

California's hydropower is vulnerable to climate change, a University of California, Riverside scientist has advised policymakers in "Our Changing Climate," a report released July 31 by the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Energy Commission (CEC). "Climate change is expected to affect the quantity and timing of water flow in the state," explained Kaveh Madani, a former postdoctoral research scholar in UC Riverside's Water Science and Policy Center (WSPC), who led a research project on climate change effects on hydropower production, demand, and pricing in California. "Under dry climate warming, the state will receive less precipitation, with most of it as rain instead of snow, impacting hydropower supply and operations."

Environmental Advertising Increases When the Economy Is Stronger
August 7, 2012 06:56 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

Environmental concern is greater when the economy is stronger, a study found which looked at environmental advertising in National Geographic over three decades. Specifically, the study, conducted by three researchers at Penn State University, found that consumers are more receptive to environmental appeals and marketers do more environmental advertising when the economy is improving. There is a strong statistical correlation, the three researchers discovered, between the GDP and the amount of environmental advertising. As Lee Ahern, one of researchers said, "We found that changes in GDP do indeed predict the level of 'green' advertising." "Results support the idea that key economic indicators affect the level of green strategic messaging," said Ahern. "This perspective argues that environmental concern will be greater in stronger economies and better economic times. By extension, consumers will be more attuned and receptive to green appeals when the economy is improving, and marketers will employ more green advertising."

New Amish Communities Being Founded at high rate
August 6, 2012 07:23 AM - Emily Caldwell, Ohio State University

A new census of the Amish population in the United States estimates that a new Amish community is founded, on average, about every 3 ½ weeks, and shows that more than 60 percent of all existing Amish settlements have been founded since 1990. This pattern suggests the Amish are growing more rapidly than most other religions in the United States, researchers say. Unlike other religious groups, however, the growth is not driven by converts joining the faith, but instead can be attributed to large families and high rates of baptism. In all, the census counts almost 251,000 Amish in the United States and Ontario, Canada, dispersed among 456 settlements, the communities in which members live and worship. The 1990 census estimated that there were 179 settlements in the United States.

Coping with Drought, Lessons from the Dust Bowl
August 5, 2012 07:31 AM - DAVID SCHAPER, NPR

This summer's drought continues to wilt and bake crops from Ohio to the Great Plains and beyond. Under a baking, late-afternoon sun just outside of the tiny east-central Illinois town of Thawville, John Hildenbrand walks down his dusty, gravel driveway toward one of his corn fields. "You can see on the outer edge, these are a lot better-looking ears on the outside rows. Of course, it's not near as hot as it is inside the field," he says.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution innovates to help track Arctic Ice
August 4, 2012 07:17 AM - Neila Columbo, Sierra Club Green Home

As the Arctic sea ice continues to melt, an initiative led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is trying to predict out future changes to the Arctic and how this will affect the environment. In 2004, John Toole and his research team at Woods Hole Oceanic Institute (WHOI) developed a new way to measure changes in the Arctic as part of the Arctic Observing Network, an international collaboration of scientists studying the Arctic polar climate and ecosystem. Computer models suggest significant impacts in this region will occur in the next few years, and it is of great concern to scientists to know how these shifts will affect ocean stratification and circulation, ecosystems, and global weather patterns. "The Earth's climate system is changing in response to the increase of carbon levels in the atmosphere. Computer models seem to suggest in the next 100 years or earlier, say by mid-century, the ice cover of the Arctic may disappear mid-summer each year, and some models suggests once it begins to disappear, it could go very quickly, perhaps over the course of ten years," says Toole. "The Arctic may function more like the Antarctic in the future with a highly seasonal ice cover — little in mid-late summer, and a broad, thin coverage in winter."

The US is now Exporting Coal - is this good?
August 3, 2012 06:56 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

We all know that the journey to a sustainable existence on this planet is going to be a difficult one. Indeed, it might well be what former Xerox CEO David Kearns said of the company’s quest for quality, "a race without a finish line." I say this because absolute sustainability is an ideal that can only be approached. But we need to accelerate our approach to it if we hope to continue to thrive here for generations to come. There will be difficult choices to make, and priorities to set, many of which, like in today's story, will involve trading off short term and long term benefits. At this point, thanks in large part to Wall Street, the game is heavily rigged on the side of the short term, and that is going to have to change if we are to have any hope of averting disaster in the brief time remaining, especially when it comes to climate change.

Update: Electric Car Sales
August 2, 2012 07:23 AM - Guest Author, Clean Techies

In a few weeks, we’ll come upon the four-year anniversary of when candidate Barack Obama proposed that America put 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on our roads by 2015. Even before the sale of the first Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, most observers knew that hitting the seven-figure mark by 2015 was more aspirational than an actual goal. Recent sales numbers for EVs in the U.S. have revealed market challenges facing battery-powered cars. Last week, Nissan reported that June 2012 sales of its electric Leaf reached 535 units—less than one-third of the 1,708 LEAFs sold in June 2011. Throughout 2012, monthly sales numbers have hovered around the 500-unit mark. That’s a troubling sign for EVs because Nissan had announced that its sales would double from 9,674 in 2011 to nearly 20,000 units this year. If trends continue, Nissan’s Leaf-manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee—expected to come online in December—could operate well below its capacity of 150,000 units annually.

Humpback Whales alter migration pattern, stay in Antarctic waters longer
July 31, 2012 06:31 AM - ScienceDaily

Large numbers of humpback whales are remaining in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula to feast on krill late into the austral autumn, long after their annual migrations to distant breeding grounds were believed to begin, according to a new Duke University study. The study, published July 30 in the journal Endangered Species Research, provides the first density estimates for these whales in both open and enclosed habitats along the peninsula in late autumn.

Pacific Coral Triangle 'at risk of collapse'
July 30, 2012 04:20 PM - Nora Gamolo, SciDevNet

The Coral Triangle, a roughly triangular marine zone in the Indo-Pacific region that is considered to have the world's richest concentration of marine biodiversity, is facing potential ecological collapse due to heavy pressure inflicted by human activities, according to a new report. The warning appears in a collaborative study, 'Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle', produced by a consortium led by the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think-tank based in Washington DC, United States. It serves as a status report on the wellbeing of coral reefs in or near the six countries comprising the triangle.

Electric Car Sales Still Slower Than Expected
July 30, 2012 06:28 AM - Brad Berman, Clean Techies

In a few weeks, we'll come upon the four-year anniversary of when candidate Barack Obama proposed that America put 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on our roads by 2015. Even before the sale of the first Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, most observers knew that hitting the seven-figure mark by 2015 was more aspirational than an actual goal. Recent sales numbers for EVs in the U.S. have reveal market challenges facing battery-powered cars. Last week, Nissan reported that June 2012 sales of its electric Leaf reached 535 units—less than one-third of the 1,708 LEAFs sold in June 2011. Throughout 2012, monthly sales numbers have hovered around the 500-unit mark. That’s a troubling sign for EVs because Nissan had announced that its sales would double from 9,674 in 2011 to nearly 20,000 units this year. If trends continue, Nissan’s Leaf-manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee—expected to come online in December—could operate well below its capacity of 150,000 units annually.

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