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Tue, Feb

  • UN launches International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

    United Nations' officials [this week] launched the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All with a call on governments, the private sector and civil society to help expand energy access, improve efficiency and increase the use of renewables. Globally, one person in five still lacks access to modern electricity and twice that number – three billion people – rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating. >> Read the Full Article
  • Genetically Modified Plants To Resist Intense Drought

    Israeli agro-biotechnology company, Rosetta Green, has developed a new technology to develop plants that are better able to withstand prolonged periods of severe drought. The company aims to develop new plant varieties resistant to harsh climatic condition, maintaining an increased yield. The company, based in Rehovot, Israel, experimented on tobacco plants that were irrigated with seawater instead of freshwater. The genetically modified plants created by the company were able to grow under seawater irrigation, as opposed to the control group of plants. According to the company's CEO, Amir Avniel, "the frequent droughts afflicting the world in recent years and the motivation to expand to arid lands containing brackish water require the development of plant varieties resistant to drought and irrigation with salt water." Rosetta Green is using a technology that can identify MicroRNAs, which are short RNA molecules that play an important role in the regulation of key genetic traits in major crops. The MicroRNAs identified by the company were used to develop prototype plants with significantly improved drought tolerance. >> Read the Full Article
  • Singapore Panel Makes Recommendations for Mitigating Flash-Flooding

    Storm water run-off, a major problem which has affected Singapore for two consecutive years, is thought to be partially due to urbanization of the country, and recommendations have been made for mitigation of this serious issue. An expert panel consisting of 12 members was created after last year's flash flooding across eastern and central Singapore to research potential solutions, and the panel explains that urbanization – that is, more concrete, buildings and roads due to a growing population – is one of the reasons behind the recent increase in storm water run-off which causes the flooding. Today Online mentions that the panel performed additional analysis as a joint effort with the Meteorological Services, and observed that there are clear trends in recent decades towards higher rainfall in terms of intensity and frequency. These findings are consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) findings. >> Read the Full Article
  • U.S. weighs retaliation over Europe carbon tax

    The Obama administration is laying the groundwork for possible retaliation in response to a European law requiring airlines to pay for carbon emissions. Discussions between key agencies have ramped up recently, although there is no consensus yet on what, if anything, the U.S. government should do unilaterally or in concert with other nations also upset with the law. The EU law went into effect on January 1 and requires global airlines to pay for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe. Several experts said one option the United States could pursue would involve charging European airlines to maintain U.S. access to pressure EU policymakers. This strategy was used by the United States in a recently concluded dispute with Argentina over landing fees. "We are contemplating a wide range of possible steps that we could take, or actions that we might take," a senior administration official told Reuters. "All these are on the table, we haven't decided how to move forward on any specific one," the official said, while declining to give specifics on the possible steps. >> Read the Full Article
  • Breakthrough Facility to Trap Solar Energy in Molten Salt

    One of the greatest problems of large scale solar power facilities is that they do not produce electricity at night, and when they do produce power, it is constantly fluctuating with the sun's strength. Under development in the deserts of Tonopah, Nevada is a new technology that will effectively store solar energy in the form of molten salt. When the sun goes down, thermal energy from the salt will be able to produce electricity for eight to ten hours. >> Read the Full Article
  • Who pays for carbon taxes on airlines? The customers!

    Deutsche Lufthansa AG will pass on to its customers an expected 130 million euros ($169 million) of costs for carbon permits it needs this year under a new European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Germany's biggest airline said on Monday it will add the costs from the ETS to its fuel surcharge, becoming the first carrier to provide details of how it plans to cope with the additional burden. "In the face of intensive competition, especially of companies from non-EU countries whose production is subject to emissions trading to only a small degree, Lufthansa will have to pass on the burden via ticket prices, as suggested by the EU," it said in a statement. However in the short term Lufthansa will not raise its existing surcharges, which it had increased last month -- to between 102 euros and 122 per flight leg for intercontinental flights and to 31 euros for domestic and European flights -- though it said at the time this was just to cover higher fuel costs. From this year, all airlines touching down or taking off in the EU will have to account for their CO2 emissions as part of an expansion of the world's largest carbon market. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chevrolet Carbon Stories: San Juan National Forest tree planting

    Whenever you take a breathe, you are breathing in 1/3 more carbon dioxide than your grandparents did. That's a significant increase in just two generations. Now imagine a forest. In one year, an acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and emits 4 tons of oxygen. In 2003, the San Juan National Forest suffered a major fire that effectively destroyed and deforested large sections of land in Colorado. The US Forest Service does not plan to replant the burned areas, and this land is not likely to be naturally reforested. In conjunction with the US Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and local activists with the help of Chevrolet have actively begun to reforest a portion of the burned land with newly planted trees. Along with replanting the forest, this is a great project for its ecological benefits such as restoring habitat, as well as for the local economy. >> Read the Full Article
  • International Sustainability Standards: Pros and Cons

    Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological concept. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society and its members are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals indefinitely. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire globe. With that said how do you specifically define what is sustainable? Economic needs are fairly easy to figure out; ultimately it is do you make a profit or not. Social needs will depend on the society involved and every society is different. There is a difference between urban and rural needs for example much less North Africa, China, and the US. Ecological standards will also vary because it is far from clear how much resilience that an ecosystem has and as a result there will be constant and shifting debate on those standards. >> Read the Full Article
  • Smart Tips for Eco-friendly, Cost-effective Shipping

    Shipping is the lifeblood of the modern economy, vital for businesses to stay active and meet the demands of their clients. Often, in the rush to get products out, shippers will overlook practices which may be considered greener, for shipping practices that are easier because "it’s the way it has always been done." In a world of limited resources, this is an attitude that businesses will have to get away from. It will become ever more important to choose environmentally-friendly shipping practices while also keeping costs down. Here are a few tips in the right direction. Choose the right size shipping container Sometimes, shippers find themselves limited by the size of boxes they can use to ship their products. For example, they can have a product that is about 2 cubic inches, but their smallest box is a cubic foot. This equates to 1,726 cubic inches of wasted space. It also equates to a lot of extra cardboard as well as extra packaging material inside to keep the nut, or bolt, or whatever it is from bouncing around. The importance of having the right size shipping containers in stock is crucial for preserving resources and cutting costs. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chevrolet Carbon Story 4 Rockingham County Landfill

    Americans create over 200 million tons of trash each year. As garbage in landfills decomposes, it creates a gas that is half methane (the primary component of natural gas), which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Instead of letting the gas escape into the air, landfill gas projects collect the gas and destroy it through either flaring, or using the gas to power electric generators or boilers. Thus garbage is turned into energy. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is supporting the Rockingham County (Virginia) Landfill’s methane capture and use program. Rockingham County Landfill collects the methane from the landfill and pipes it to Rockingham (Virginia) Memorial Hospital (RMH) where it will fuel boilers that produce steam, heat and electricity for the Hospital’s use. RMH is a LEED certified facility and one of the first hospitals to utilize landfill gas for the vast majority of their fuel needs. Destroying landfill gasses helps to reduce odors and other hazards associated with Landfill Gas emissions, and it helps prevent methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local smog and global climate change. Over the next few years, Chevrolet will be investing in projects that will help reduce up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Every carbon-reducing project Chevrolet invests in will be based in the United States, and each will be focused in one of three areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency programs, and forestry (including conservation). Chevrolet has chosen projects they believe will make a lasting difference in communities across the country. Progress is already underway, and Chevrolet estimates it will take up to five years to achieve the initial goal. There's still a lot of work to be done, but every project is a step in the right direction. >> Read the Full Article