• Wind Tops 10 Percent Share of Electricity in Five States

    A new picture is emerging in the U.S. power sector. In 2007, electricity generation from coal peaked, dropping by close to 4 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Over the same time period, nuclear generation fell slightly, while natural gas-fired electricity grew by some 3 percent annually and hydropower by 7 percent. Meanwhile, wind-generated electricity grew by a whopping 36 percent each year. Multiple factors underlie this nascent shift in U.S. electricity production, including the global recession, increasing energy efficiency, and more economically recoverable domestic natural gas. But ultimately it is the increasing attractiveness of wind as an energy source that will drive it into prominence. Wind power accounted for just 2.9 percent of total electricity generation in the United States in 2011. In five U.S. states, however, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2010. In 2011, Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind’s share was 15 percent. >> Read the Full Article
  • Melting Arctic Ice May Usher in New Era of Geopolitical Conflict

    Countries of the Far North are set to be the new players in the emerging Arctic frontier. The polar ice cap is melting at much faster rates than previously predicted, and may be completely ice free by the summer of 2040 or sooner. There are vast untapped resources in the Arctic Ocean such as new shipping lanes, fishing grounds, tourism, and it is believed to contain the largest of the world's remaining energy reserves. This year has brought about a frenzy of oil and gas exploration which will only increase as the ice recedes. The coming summer will bring an even more intense search for resources. Cooperation will be required among the northern nations to avert territorial disputes and conflicts at the top of the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • General Mills Releases 2012 Global Responsibility Report

    General Mills today released its 2012 Global Responsibility Report, detailing the company’s progress in the areas of health, communities and environment. The 2012 report can be viewed or downloaded at GeneralMills.com. Highlights from General Mills’ efforts to nourish lives around the globe this past year include: Reaching the halfway mark toward achieving three of the company’s 2015 global sustainability goals: water, solid waste and packaging. General Mills is more than 50 percent of the way to achieving a 20 percent reduction in its water usage rate and a 50 percent reduction in its solid waste generation rate. In addition, the company has improved the packaging for 27 percent of its sales volume –more than halfway toward the 40 percent goal. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bottled water industry wages PR battle against tap water

    Worried by a dip in sales, Nestlé is among the companies waging a million-pound public relations war to turn the public off tap water and back onto plastic bottled water Bottled water is the totemic bête noire of the environmental world, a multibillion-dollar industry that takes what in the west is clean and readily available from the tap, packages it up in non-biodegradable plastic and sells it back to consumers at hugely inflated prices. And yet sales continue to rise. In 2010, more than 2bn litres were consumed in the UK – 33 litres per person, a figure projected to rise to 40 litres by 2020. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean Heating over the past hundred years

    In 1872 the HMS Challenger pulled out from Portsmouth, England to begin an unprecedented scientific expedition of the world's oceans. During its over three year journey the HMS Challenger not only collected thousands of new species and sounded unknown ocean depths, but also took hundreds of temperature readings—data which is now proving invaluable to our understanding of climate change. Utilizing the temperature data from the HMS Challenger expedition and comparing it to contemporary temperatures, researchers writing in Nature Climate Change found that the oceans' surface— where marine warming is most intense—saw temperature rise on average by 0.59 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 135 years or so. This implies that oceanic temperatures have been rising for at least a century. >> Read the Full Article
  • Earth Hour biggest ever this year

    Last night, as Earth Hour beganits monumental journey around the globe, hundreds of millions of people united to demonstrate that we urgently need to take action to protect our planet. The largest voluntary action for the environment is reaching further than ever before. Earth Hour was celebrated in a record 150 countries and territories and 6494 towns and cities to send the message that our combined efforts are needed to change our future to one that is sustainable. >> Read the Full Article
  • Planet Under Pressure Conference - State of the Planet Declaration Issued

    Earth has only one decade to pull itself back from various environmental 'tipping points' — points at which the damage becomes irreversible, scientists have said. If it fails to do so, it is likely to witness a series of breakdowns in the systems that sustain people, such as oceans and soil, according to a major meeting on safeguarding the planet's future, the Planet Under Pressure conference (26–29 March). "Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk," said some of the world's leading documenters of global environmental change in the first 'State of the Planet' declaration. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scotland on the High Road to Sustainable Energy

    Scotland is on course to smash its renewable energy targets after official figures revealed record-high levels of green power generation. The Scottish Government's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the publication of the statistics that confirms Scotland will beat the 2011 renewables target. Statistics published today show that the amount of renewable electricity generated in 2011 rose 45 per cent on 2010 to 13,750 Gigawatt hours. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rio+20 zero draft accepts 'planetary boundaries'

    The latest draft of the so-called 'zero draft' document, which will be presented to heads of government at the Rio+20 Summit in June, has been amended to include an acknowledgement that there are scientifically assessed 'planetary boundaries' which, if overstepped, could result in irreversible damage to the Earth's sytems. The draft is being prepared by national delegates to the United Nations, and will ultimately be presented to heads of government at the Summit for their endorsement. >> Read the Full Article
  • IPCC predicts rise in extreme climate events

    Climate change could mean unusually high temperatures occurring much more often in most parts of the world by the end of the century, according to a special report on extreme weather events from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "A hottest day that occurs once in 20 years is likely to become a one-in-two year event, except in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, where it is likely to be one-in-five years," according to Sonia Seneviratne, a climate expert at ETH Zurich, which is part of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Seneviratne was speaking at the Planet Under Pressure conference, which is being held in London this week (26–29 March). She was a member of an IPCC group set up in 2009 to compile the Special report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (SREX), which was published today (28 March). Contributors to the report include experts on disaster recovery and risk management, together with members of the physical sciences and climate change mitigation and adaptation disciplines. The report marks the first time that the scientific literature on extreme events has been synthesised by a single team, Seneviratne told the conference. It assesses observations and predicts changes in temperature extremes, heavy rainfall and drought for 26 regions. According to the IPCC, it offers "an unprecedented level of detail regarding observed and expected changes in weather and climate extremes, based on a comprehensive assessment of over 1,000 scientific publications." >> Read the Full Article