• Planting Forests for Carbon Sequestration

    Imagine a forest landscape where every tree is aligned and equally spaced apart. A forest where there are no sounds, no undergrowth and a distinct lack of species. Could this be the fate of our environment as carbon forestry becomes a common way to offset greenhouse gas emissions? Or, could it supplement reforestation programs and slowly ease the biodiversity crisis? Post-Kyoto there has been strong support for global emissions to be 'capped'. Key nations, including Australia, Norway and Japan, have already started to place a price on carbon, with internal stakeholders now having a legal obligation to pay for the greenhouse gasses they emit. One strategy that has been adopted by these 'compliance' markets – as well as many 'voluntary' markets – includes the purchasing of carbon credits that are linked with the forestry sector. >> Read the Full Article
  • Predicting Obama Action on Climate Change in his Second Administration

    Newly re-elected President President Obama gave a nod to climate change in his acceptance speech on election night, but reducing the United States' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is still not very high on the President's agenda for his second term. Yet the looming debate on fiscal reform combined with recent weather events could create an opportunity to introduce a carbon tax. While global warming was one of Obama's top priorities going into his first mandate, in 2012, Obama stayed as far away from the topic as he could. Not only was the economy the main issue for both candidates, but it’s also likely that Obama felt vulnerable to attacks against his energy policy record following the high-profile Solyndra bankruptcy in September 2011. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exploring the Ocean for Minerals

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • If we're going to pave paradise, let's put up a green parking lot

    Can you imagine if our roads and parking lots were painted yellow or maybe a light blue? It would challenge our concept of a typical blacktop, but according to research, "cool pavement" seems like the way of the future. Pavements from streets and exposed parking lots make up a large percentage of surface area in our growing communities. And it is easy to feel the heat that is absorbed in those dark pavements. As pavement surface heats up, local air is also heated and aggravates urban heat islands—urban areas that become warmer than their surrounding areas. To address this issue, the Heat Island Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been experimenting with "cool pavement" technologies. Similar to the way lighter-colored roofs have a cooling effect by reflecting the sun's energy, cool pavements also have the same ability. Cool pavements can be made from traditional pavement materials that are lighter in color and therefore have a higher solar reflectance, or can consist of cool-colored coatings for asphalt surfaces. Because sealcoats are commonly used as asphalt pavement structures degrade over time, when roads do need to be repaved or patched up, cities may want to opt for these new technologies. The benefits of cool pavements will not only help local ambient air, but can also impact global warming and energy loads. Dark roofs and dark pavements both contribute to warming temperatures as they absorb large amounts of solar energy and then radiate that energy back into the atmosphere in the form of heat. >> Read the Full Article
  • Malaysian dam project will set precedent on how to treat indigenous people

    The controversial Murum dam in Malaysia is the first big overseas project for the China Three Gorges Project Company (CTGC) which is building hydro- and coal-fired power stations in 23 countries. So how it resolves its current conflict with the protesting Penan tribe will set an important precedent as to how other Indigenous people are treated. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is covered in ancient rainforest. This pristine oasis is home to many rare species, including the Slow loris, Clouded leopard, eight species of Hornbill as well as the iconic Orang-utang. Logging practices in the Sarawak region have decimated the habitat of these, and thousands of other unique species, and caused irreparable damage to valuable peat lands. >> Read the Full Article
  • Escalating Trade Disputes for Chinese-made Solar Panels

    China has become the world's largest producer of solar panels, and the European Union has become the largest consumer of solar panels. Due to the economic climate within Europe, it is natural for them to bolster their own solar industry in the interest of keeping and adding employment and growth. However, China which is Europe's largest supplier has been accusing the EU of protectionist actions which go against the rules of the World Trade Organization. China's primary complaint centers on Rome and Athens, where a new policy allows for higher electricity prices to solar companies which use locally sourced components. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Design Creates More Efficient Wind Turbines

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers study effects of open-fire cooking on air quality and human health

    The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has just launched a study examining the impact of open-fire cooking on regional air quality and human health. The study will look at atmospheric air pollutants and human diseases in terms of the effects of smoke from traditional cooking methods in households, villages, and entire regions particularly in northern Ghana. There are many factors that force developing countries to rely on cooking food with open flame fires. For example, electricity and energy sources are extremely scarce and lead natives to use dried plant stalks and other mediums for fuel. Research suggests that the continued use of these open fire pits and stoves has the potential to create problems for local populations. >> Read the Full Article
  • 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
  • Hurricane Sandy Update: Eight to Ten Million Cumulative Power Outages Predicted

    Hurricane Sandy is weakening and moving faster than anticipated. Therefore a computer model developed by an engineer at The Johns Hopkins University is now predicting fewer power outages than initially expected. Seth Guikema is predicting that an overall cumulative total of 8 to 10 million people will lose power in the wake of the hurricane, based on the last storm track and intensity forecast at 2 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 30. It is important to note that the computer model predicts cumulative outages, not peak outages. Cumulative means the total count of anyone who has lost power, versus peak, which is the number of people without power at any one point in time. For instance, in Maryland, the local utility company reported approximately 290,000 cumulative power outages as of 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, but their peak was approximately 210,000 because they were actively restoring outages while new outages were occurring. >> Read the Full Article