• Put up your data and step away from the car

    Your driving and charging habits mean a great deal to companies selling Electric Vehicles (EV), to government when developing policy, to firms developing wireless communications or charging stations and to utility companies that will be required to supply the electricity. All of them want to know when/where and how much electricity is needed and how it is obtained as more and more people buy EV. Most likely your decision to buy an EV might depend on how far you will be driving regularly. BEV gives more range, but HPEV save you from range anxiety. Either way, you are only going to spend the extra money to own an EV if you know you can drive/charge the way you want. Whether we like it or not, that means it is as important to us as it is to utilities, car companies or the government that good vehicle charging data become available. Americans have always been leery of intrusions into their privacy. Use data from personal electric vehicles, be they BEV or PHEV, will become only more important to the development of policy and marketing for greener driving goals. Think about your EV. You leave home one morning after having charged it up overnight. You go to work, where your employer provides a parking bay with an EV charger and charge it again. This charge will be what you need to get home, but what happens when your daughter calls and asks you to pick up your grandchild from daycare for her? Well, that's across town and you need extra battery range for that. But, you check your iPhone app and see that Walgreens has installed chargers at the store near daycare, so you figure you'll pick up your granddaughter and the two of you can get her the stuffed animal you promised her while the car charges again. Any other day maybe you’d only charge at home and work. >> Read the Full Article
  • Brazil's forest code debate may determine fate of the Amazon rainforest

    Brazil's forest code may be about to get an overhaul. The federal code, which presently requires landowners in the Amazon to keep 80 percent of their land forest (20-35% in the cerrado), is widely flouted, but has been used in recent years as a lever by the government to go after deforesters. For example, the forest code served as the basis for the "blacklists" which restricted funds for municipalities where deforestation has been particularly high. To get off the blacklist, and thereby regain access to finance and markets, a municipality must demonstrate its landowners are in compliance with environmental laws. >> Read the Full Article
  • Book Review: Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Thief

    When I first picked up Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of The Worlds Most Notorious Butterfly Thief by Jessica Weart, I wasn't very excited. A book about butterfly collectors, how exciting can that be? When I think butterfly collectors, I think of an uptight old man, passively smoking a pipe, listening to classical music, nothing exciting. Turns out lepidopterists, butterfly collectors, aren't the boring types I thought they were. Butterfly collecting can become a passionate, expensive obsession. Some rare butterflies are valued over 30,000 dollars, and there have been instances where collectors have risked it all in order to obtain a unique butterfly for their collection. Actually, I found out there are famous lepidopterists, including the controversial writer of Lolita, Vladimir Nabakov. In Winged Obsession, Weart attempts to explore this obsession, by following the true story of the "capture" of the world's most infamous butterfly dealer, Yoshi Kojima. The story is the epitome of cat and mouse, (or should I say butterfly and net), starring United States Fish and Wildlife agent Ted Newcomer and butterfly master smuggler Yoshi Kojima. Kojima considers himself the Indiana Jones of butterflies, and had been able to elude wildlife protection for years due his ability to create an elaborate web of lies, mind the bug pun. >> Read the Full Article
  • What makes humans special? The Power of communication. New from BBC Earth

    A human's need to communicate, can be observed from the first moments of life. The intuitive reaction of a newborn to cry, lays the stepping-stone for a process which at its heart, will enable every human to successfully communicate their experience of being alive. It has been said that words are man's greatest achievement. With the first utterances of symbolic language emerging 2.5 million years ago, slowly evolved by the first Homo sapiens – the solid foundations of modern articulation have decidedly been set. Yet many would argue that speech and language was developed not out of want, but out of need. Therefore in what ways do humans communicate…without using words? Music has long been a way of communicating for necessity as well as pleasure. Such as the use of a lullaby to sooth, a folk song to warn and a chant to call to arms! But in what ways do we use rhythm and melody to communicate with nature itself? >> Read the Full Article
  • Who is Top Banana in Sustainable Banana Business?

    When it comes to fresh produce, establishing brand recognition is a tricky business. Many commercially grown fruits and vegetables are indistinguishable from one company to the next. Bananas are one standout exception largely thanks to the Chiquita company's groundbreaking ad campaign in the 1960's. The company also has a jump on sustainability marketing, having worked with the Rainforest Alliance since the 1990's. Now there's a new banana vying for attention in that arena: Dole has just announced that it is selling bananas from farms in South America that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. >> Read the Full Article
  • Air Quality Awareness

    Today is the beginning of Air Quality Awareness Week, a cooperative effort among EPA, state environmental agencies and the National Weather Service to remind the public to protect their health by paying attention to local air quality. With the onset of warmer weather, the EPA urges citizens to be aware of the increased risk of ground-level ozone air pollution and fine particle air pollution (when combined, often referred to as smog), and take health precautions when poor air quality is predicted. Air quality is defined as a measure of the condition of air relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. Air quality indices (AQI) are numbers used by government agencies to characterize the quality of the air at a given location. As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects. To compute the AQI requires an air pollutant concentration from a monitor or model. The function used to convert from air pollutant concentration to AQI varies by pollutant, and is different in different countries. Air quality index values are divided into ranges, and each range is assigned a descriptor and a color code. Standardized public health advisories are associated with each AQI range. An agency might also encourage members of the public to take public transportation or work from home when AQI levels are high. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sea turtle declines not all due to human impacts

    Humans are pushing sea turtles to the brink of extinction by entangling them in fishing gear, tossing plastic garbage into their habitats, and building resorts on prime nesting beaches, among other affronts. That's the going hypothesis, anyway. But a new study suggests that our transgressions are peanuts compared to natural oceanic cycles, at least for loggerheads. The findings don't let people off the hook, the authors say, but they do provide new insight into the ways climate can shape turtle populations. Loggerheads lay their eggs on subtropical beaches around the world. After hatching, baby sea turtles head out to sea where they spend years maturing. When females reach breeding age—25 to 35 years old for loggerheads—they clamber ashore to lay eggs on the beach. Nest counts are the main source of demographic data for sea turtles, but it's hard to estimate population size from these counts. Between the mid-1990s and 2006, loggerhead nests in Florida—one of the species' nesting epicenters—declined from roughly 55,000 per year to around 30,000. That drop and declines elsewhere prompted U.S. federal agencies to propose upgrading most loggerheads from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. >> Read the Full Article
  • NYC Finds Solar Energy Gold in Old Landfills

    Landfill gas recovery is becoming a familiar fixture in the alternative energy scene, and now New York City has added a new dimension to the idea of extracting valuable resources from seemingly useless parcels of land. The city plans to build utility-scale solar installations on its old landfills, to the tune of about 50 megawatts. >> Read the Full Article
  • Virginia Hybrid Car HOV Perk Is Tied to Police Budget

    Last week, Virginia passed yet another extension of its hybrid HOV law, which gives drivers of "clean fuel" vehicles access to the commonwealth's carpool lanes. The law has been extended annually since its original expiration date in 2006—even as the state's HOV lanes (and hybrid sales) swell. Could the extensions have anything to do with the fact that, with every registration for access, $15 goes to the state police's "HOV Enforcement Fund?" >> Read the Full Article
  • Outsourcing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to the Developing World

    In many developed nations, increased energy efficiency has effectively lowered emissions of carbon dioxide. However, the cuts in advanced economies are merely an illusion, as manufacturing and dirty industries have moved offshore to the developing world such as China and India. These countries produce goods cheaply which Western consumers like. But that cheap price is a reflection of not only lower wages for workers, but also lax pollution controls and environmental standards. >> Read the Full Article