• Brazil's Growth Offers Wealth and Worry in The Northeast

    Two years ago I predicted this would be the Brazilian Decade, and so far Brazil's stunning success has proven me correct. It is not just about the large international events like the World Cup and Olympics that are on the calendar in 2014 and 2016. Brazil has become a creditor nation; once a net food importer, it now feeds much of the world; and recently it surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world's sixth largest economy. For decades much of the growth was centered around São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, then stretched south towards the border with Uruguay. Industries such as aircraft, petrochemicals and automobiles anchored Latin America's largest economy. But now Brazil's economic might has extended to regions of the country that had long underperformed compared to the wealthy south. >> Read the Full Article
  • White Roofs reduce urban heat island effect

    Black roofs have been the norm for commercial buildings for decades since early roofs used a tar-coated paper material and tar based coatings to provide water proofing. Black roofs also add heat which in the winter, is not a bad thing for the building. It turns out that black roofs contribute to the urban heat island effect. This effect, caused not only by black roofs, creates warmer temperatures in urban areas compared to the surrounding suburbs. A study by Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University in New York looked at the effect of roof color on temperatures. On the hottest day of the New York City summer in 2011, a white roof covering was measured at 42 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the traditional black roof it was being compared to, according to a study including NASA scientists that details the first scientific results from the city's unprecedented effort to brighten rooftops and reduce its "urban heat island" effect. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cookie Cutter Sustainability

    For the girl next store or the company down the street, sustainability can be a real head scratcher, especially when you factor in busy schedules, limited cash flow, and confusing choices. Further tensions arise when individuals and companies give in to overly formulaic or prescriptive sustainability strategies. What's right for the single guy in Kentucky with a small plot of land isn't right for the big-city girl in Chicago with a house plant and a public transit card. And what works for the big coffee shop chain isn’t necessarily a good fit for the neighborhood café. >> Read the Full Article
  • NASCAR: Safe Driving is Green Driving

    NASCAR, best known for pushing the speed envelope, has launched a new traffic safety campaign with a sustainable twist. Rather than focusing narrowly on strategies to help drivers to look out for their own lives, the campaign deploys a broad message of taking responsibility for the safety of others. According to a press release launch, the campaign's mission goes far beyond road safety to encourage "personal responsibility for our planet and its people, especially teens." >> Read the Full Article
  • Fuel Cell Test in Hawaii, GM is on the move

    Fuel cells hold great promise as an emission-free way to power cars and other vehicles, but range is the bottleneck. Without a national infrastructure to support fuel cell re-fueling, drivers are pretty much stuck to a network of local charging stations. That could change fairly rapidly, if a test under way by the Department of Defense bears out. In cooperation with several DoD agencies and the car manufacturer GM, the U.S. Army has just launched a pilot fleet of 16 vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells in Hawaii. That's small potatoes compared to the tens of thousands of vehicles owned by DoD, but according to the Army it's the largest military fleet of fuel cell vehicles in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Abu Dhabi bets on anti-dust solar panels

    Abu Dhabi is teaming up with a global electronics company to develop better coatings for solar panels to make them cheaper and easier to keep clean in desert conditions. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region stands to benefit from concentrated solar power (CSP) — a technology that uses lenses or mirrors to focus large amounts of sunlight onto a small area. This light is converted to heat, which generates electricity. In 2009, a joint study by the International Energy Agency's SolarPACES group, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association and Greenpeace International concluded that CSP could generate up to a quarter of the world's energy needs by 2050. But harsh desert conditions in parts of the MENA region generate large amounts of airborne dust which collects on the solar panels used in CSP systems, reducing their efficiency. They need regular cleaning, which consumes large amounts of water. Bodo Becker, operations manager at Flagsol, which developed Egypt's first solar-thermal plant, Kuraymat, said this is a serious issue at his facility. "If we leave dust to accumulate for just one month, the output of the solar panels decreases by about 35 per cent," he said, adding that the facility uses nearly 40,000 litres of water every day. >> Read the Full Article
  • GM Announces new trucks, and they are ALL green!

    Chevrolet and GMC today announced details of General Motors' bi-fuel 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD extended cab pickup trucks. Fleet and retail consumers can place orders beginning this April. The vehicles include a compressed natural gas (CNG) capable Vortec 6.0L V8 engine that seamlessly transitions between CNG and gasoline fuel systems. Combined, the trucks offer a range of more than 650 miles. The Silverado and Sierra will be available in standard and long box, with either two- or four-wheel drive. >> Read the Full Article
  • D.C. Circuit Hears Challenges to EPA Climate Regulations

    On February 28 and 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a series of challenges to the [EPA's] regulation of [GHGs] under the Clean Air Act, far-reaching litigation spanning dozens of parties and at least four separate rules. Decisions from the panel of Judges David Sentelle, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown are expected later this year. The rare, two-day argument began with a challenge to EPA's December 7, 2009 finding that emissions of six GHGs, including carbon dioxide, "may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare." This "endangerment finding" is the cornerstone of all subsequent action by EPA. >> Read the Full Article
  • More Americans Believe Climate Change is Happening

    The number of Americans who believe global warming is happening is on the rise, according to a Brookings Institution report on the latest National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC) survey conducted in December of 2011. The report shows much of that new-found belief comes from direct experience with independent studies showing that four out of five Americans have been directly impacted by climate change. 2011 was a "year for the record books" bringing record drought and heat waves, hurricanes, floods, winter storms and wildfires. In all, there were 14 record climate and weather-related events in 2011, each causing at least $1 billion in damage. Hurricane Irene alone caused more than $7 billion in damages. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fire at UK Biomass Power Plant triggered by a single spark

    Fire investigators believe a spark from machinery triggered the huge fire that swept through Europe's biggest biomass power plant yesterday. Firefighters spent more than 15 hours tackling the fire at the Tilbury power plant on the banks of the River Thames in Essex. The damage is understood to be widespread and fire chiefs believe it will take a further two days to remove the embers of the wood pellets that fuelled the blaze. >> Read the Full Article