• The Era Of Cheap Water Is Over: Deloitte

    Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) today launched the Water Tight 2012 report, which explores the future of the global water sector in the year ahead. The report examines how major global trends such as population growth, increasing economic development, and urbanization, coupled with the changes in climate patterns, underscore the importance of effective public policy and private sector water stewardship in managing this finite and shared resource. The growing demand for water is making conservation and efficient use central issues, particularly as governments, utilities, and the private sector come under increasing pressure to be stewards of this precious and shared resource. The report states that a clearer water pricing will play an important role in how customers better manage their water usage. "There is a compelling case for utilities either to increase water prices or create a better pricing system that addresses scarcity issues, allows them to invest in the replacement of ageing infrastructure, and provides them with a satisfactory financial return," says James Leigh, Global Leader for Water, DTTL. "Increasing water prices, however, is a difficult political decision, as domestic water usage is considered a basic human right. As such, raising awareness of water related issues and educating the public about the necessity of more effective water pricing is crucial." >> Read the Full Article
  • U.S. CO2 emissions to stay below 2005 levels

    U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will be 7 percent lower than their 2005 level of nearly 6 billion metric tons in 2020 as coal's share of electricity production continues a steady descent over the next two decades, according to new government data. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released an early version of its annual energy outlook on Monday, which predicted a slowdown in growth of energy use over the next two decades amid economic recovery and improved energy efficiency. The report highlights the fact that carbon-intensive coal generation will see a major decline in the power sector in the coming decades, which will ensure energy-related CO2 emissions will not exceed 2005 levels at any point before 2035. The report also showed that emissions per capita would fall an average of 1 percent per year from 2005 to 2035 as the new federal standards, state renewable energy mandates and higher energy prices would temper the growth of demand for transportation fuels. >> Read the Full Article
  • Biofuel breakthrough

    Brown seaweed's potential as a vast source of biofuels has been highlighted with the announcement that scientists have found a way of converting all its major sugars into ethanol. A team reported in Science today (19 January) that it has engineered a microbe that will convert the sugars to ethanol, overturning one of the main obstacles to making the use of brown macroalgae, or seaweed, as a biofuel feedstock competitive. The prospective ethanol yield from brown seaweed is approximately two times higher than that from sugarcane and five times higher than maize, from the same area of cultivation. But its full potential cannot be reached because of the inability of industrial microbes to break down alginate, one of the three most abundant sugars in brown seaweed, commonly known as kelp, which is the most widely grown seaweed in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Globally, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurred since 2000

    The global average temperature last year was the ninth-warmest in the modern meteorological record, continuing a trend linked to greenhouse gases that saw nine of the 10 hottest years occurring since the year 2000, NASA scientists said on Thursday. A separate report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature for the United States in 2011 as the 23rd warmest year on record. The global average surface temperature for 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline temperature, researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said in a statement. The institute's temperature record began in 1880. The first 11 years of the new century were notably hotter than the middle and late 20th century, according to institute director James Hansen. The only year from the 20th century that was among the top 10 warmest years was 1998. >> Read the Full Article
  • 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