• Economics of Coal Power and Wind are shifting in favor of Wind

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change mitigation 'far cheaper than inaction'

    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'. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Connection between Climate Change and Hurricane Sandy

    While scientists are still debating some fundamental questions regarding hurricanes and climate change (such as: will climate change cause more or less hurricanes?), there's no debating that a monster hurricane is now imperiling the U.S. East Coast. A few connections between a warmer world and Hurricane Sandy can certainly be made, however: rising sea levels are likely to worsen storm surges; warmer waters bring more rain to increase flooding; and hotter temperatures may allow the hurricane to push both seasonal and geographic boundaries. >> Read the Full Article
  • Iceberg Breakup

    Icebergs start as ice sheets attached to the land or a glacier. They are large monsters of solid ice but they do break off the ice sheet before they float out to sea. How do they break up afterwards at sea? An international team of scientists has discovered a previously unknown mechanism by which large tabular icebergs break up out at sea as part of a study carried out on the Peterman Iceberg in Baffin Bay over the summer. Scientists observed that the gradual creation of a huge underwater ice foot produced so much buoyancy that it broke large chunks off the main iceberg thus causing the iceberg to slowly disintegrate. This discovery was captured on camera as a film crew followed the expedition for Operation Iceberg. >> Read the Full Article
  • Smartphone apps allow users to see critical environmental issues

    With smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly popular, so are their applications or 'apps'. And trust me, they have an app for just about anything. From games to news outlets, weather trackers, and finding the best shopping deals, apps are there to provide us with entertainment and to make our online experience easier. Apps can also be used for educational purposes and recently, two developers have come up with new and exciting technology on how we can see environmental issues in app format. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hurricane Sandy Update

    The National Hurricane Center advises that high wind warnings will remain in effect until 9 am in New Jersey and nearby states. There is also a high risk of coastal and inland flooding as extremely heavy rains are expected in what looks to be an extended period of heavy rain. Wind gusts will exceed 65 mph over the area today and this evening. The storm is intensifying as it passes over the Gulf Stream and will be very powerful as it slams into the New Jersey coast this evening with periods of widespread damaging wind gusts up to 85 mph. Conditions are forecast to worsen this afternoon and storm preparations should be complete by noontime or early afternoon. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hurricane or Tropical Storm, Sandy packs a punch

    As Hurricane Sandy approaches the Mid-Atlantic coast of the US, it is creating major concerns for prolonged heavy rain and a significant storm surge with the potential for serious flooding and beach erosion. The unfortunate coincidence of a full moon on Monday exacerbates high tides and will only add to the potential for coastal flooding. The ability to predict flooding from storms like Sandy will be improved by work being undertaken by the US Geological Survey. The USGS is installing more than 150 storm-tide sensors at key locations along the Atlantic Coast -- from the Chesapeake Bay to Massachusetts -- in advance of the arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. Working with various partner agencies such as NOAA, FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the USGS is securing the storm-tide sensors, frequently called storm-surge sensors, to piers and poles in areas where the storm is expected to make landfall. The instruments being installed will record the precise time the storm-tide arrived, how ocean and inland water levels changed during the storm, the depth of the storm-tide throughout the event, and how long it took for the water to recede. "In the hours and days before Irene made its epic sweep up the eastern seaboard last year, USGS deployed a record number of storm-surge sensors that yielded important new information on storm tides along some of the most populated coastline in the United States," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Now with Sandy we have the opportunity to test and improve predictive models of coastal zone impact based on what we previously learned." >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • Survey Shows Business Community Moving Toward Sustainability

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • Reconstructing Communities with Green Buildings

    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. >> Read the Full Article