3p Contributor: Andrew Burger

An independent journalist, writer and researcher, my work roams across the nexus where technology, political economy, sociology and ecology intersect and overlap. The apparently lifelong quest for self-knowledge and self-realization, a bit of wisdom and some grace -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and across the Americas. Twitter: @mightysparrow LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: Huginn.Muginn@gmail.com

Recent Articles

North American Seafood Distributors Join Sustainable Fisheries Coalition

| Friday July 26th, 2013 | 3 Comments
Credit: Ian Gordon, Auscape International

Credit: Ian Gordon, Auscape International

The sustainability of fish and seafood stocks continues to be an issue of global concern. Human population growth, overfishing, fast-growing aquaculture production, rising levels of marine and freshwater pollution and coastal property development, and, more recently, the effects of climate change, including ocean acidification – all factor into the local, national, regional and international institutional frameworks that result in fisheries governance and management policies, regulations and practices.

Providing a core, pivotal link in the fish and seafood supply chain, wholesale distributors can have an outsized influence on fisheries management, fishing practices and efforts aimed at enhancing the sustainability of fisheries worldwide.

This past week, six “like-minded” North American seafood wholesalers announced they have joined together to form Sea Pact, “a coalition of seafood industry leaders who strive to advance environmentally sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices and provide the building blocks of a long term and sustainable fishing industry by financially contributing to improve the fishing and fish farm practices from which they procure.”

Cultivating sustainability across the seafood supply chain

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

The Urgent Need to Forge a ‘Low-Carbon, Water-Smart Electricity Future’

| Monday July 22nd, 2013 | 0 Comments
Credit: Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative

Credit: Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative

Water and energy – we’re using a lot of the former in order to harness the latter, which poses an increasingly urgent dilemma for stakeholders across society. The energy we rely on to maintain our living standards typically comes from burning fossil fuels, which, in turn, not only draws down and degrades our water resources, land and air quality, but intensifies the negative effects of climate change.

Having reached a critical juncture at the nexus where energy and water meet, U.S. society is now faced with a stark choice. Continue to rely on fossil fuels to supply the energy we require or aggressively shift to a more diversified and distributed mix of cleaner, less resource-intensive and less destructive renewable energy resources, while at the same time pursuing across-the-board gains in energy efficiency, according to the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

SW Wind Farms to Supply Clean, Renewable Power for Less Cost than Natural Gas

| Tuesday July 16th, 2013 | 4 Comments
Credit: NextEra Energy Resources

Credit: NextEra Energy Resources

More than doubling the amount of clean, renewable electricity delivered to its customers, Xcel Energy subsidiary Southwestern Public Service expects to save some $590 million in fuel costs over the next 20 years, the result of having signed long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with three wind power farms – one in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Texas.

Clear evidence of the increasing cost competitiveness and substantial ancillary benefits of harnessing wind energy, the power purchase prices Southwestern executives have locked in, for the most part, come in lower than the cost of electricity from natural gas-fired power plants, an Xcel spokesman told Amarillo Globe-News reporter Kevin Welch.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Solar VC Investments Surge 50% Higher in 2Q 2013

| Thursday July 11th, 2013 | 0 Comments

mercom2QsolarChart_1Venture capital (VC) investments in the solar energy sector surged 50 percent higher quarter over quarter, to $189 million, in 2Q 2013, with investments in downstream solar businesses setting the pace, according to Mercom Capital Group’s “Solar Q2 Funding and M&A Report.”

Mercom recorded a total of 19 transactions valued at $189 million in 2Q as compared to 26, for a total $126 million, in this year’s first quarter. Solar downstream businesses gathered the lion’s share, gathering $128 million of VC capital invested in the U.S. solar energy sector in 2Q, according to the report.

Setting a qurterly record, downstream providers of third-party finance for distributed solar power systems raised a record $1.33 billion in disclosed residential and commercial solar project funds in 2Q. The amount raised by solar leasing companies and other types of third-party finance providers during the first six months of 2013 nearly reached that for all of 2012, Mercom found.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Amid European Solar Slow Down, Americas, Asia-Pacific Pick Up the Slack

| Friday May 31st, 2013 | 0 Comments

sanantoniosolarThe Americas and Asia/Pacific regions picked up the slack from a slowdown in Europe, driving newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) power capacity to 30 gigawatts-peak (GWp) globally and driving cumulative capacity past the 100 GWp landmark to reach 101 GWp as of year-end of 2012, according to a report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

Some 16.5 GWp of new PV power capacity was installed across the European Union (EU) in 2012, down a full 25 percent from 2011′s 22 GWp and bringing total EU installed solar PV capacity to just shy of 68.6 GWp, up from 52.1 GWp in 2011. Despite the slowdown, more than 68 terawatt-hours of electricity was generated by PV systems in the EU last year. That’s 50 percent higher and up from 45.2 TWh in 2011.

Newly installed PV capacity in the Americas and Asia/Pacific markets offset the slowdown in Europe, indicative of a ‘passing of the baton’ when it comes to those leading solar PV growth worldwide, according to the EPIA’s latest Photovoltaic Barometer. Newly-installed PV capacity totaled 31 GWp despite painful industry consolidation, sluggish economic growth and government budgetary problems in major markets around the world.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Drones: Not Just for Military or Surveillance Purposes Anymore

| Wednesday May 29th, 2013 | 0 Comments
Credit: UNEP GEAS, May 2013

Credit: UNEP GEAS, May 2013

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (AEVs) or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), use of drones for military and surveillance purposes has been both lauded and lambasted even as the market has gone global and grown exponentially. Though significant obstacles – technological and sociopolitical – remain, developers and end users have only just scratched the surface when it comes to realizing the full range of potential applications.

So-called “eco-drones” are affording a growing number and variety of government, public and private sector groups and organizations a “low-cost and low-impact solution” capable of providing higher resolution images and greater quantities of granular, primary data that should help resolve some of today’s most pressing socioeconomic and environmental issues.

A report in the May 2013 issue of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS) highlights the pioneering use and application of drones in climate change monitoring and research, ecosystems management and environmental governance.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

New Horizons for AC Refrigerants

| Wednesday April 24th, 2013 | 2 Comments

emerson-climate-inteligence

This is the second half of a two-part post, beginning with Understanding AC Refrigerant Standards.

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

click for full size

The race to find low-global warming refrigerants

Even so, the race is on to find alternatives to HFCs that have low GWPs and don’t deplete the ozone layer. Chemical companies have zoomed in on three alternative refrigerants: ammonia, propane and, ironically enough, carbon dioxide (CO2).

All three have their limitations, Rajan Rajendra, director of Engineering Services at Emerson Climate Technologies, explained. “These three are not viable across the board in all applications,” he told 3p. “Some are expensive, ammonia is caustic, and propane is highly flammable.”

Another proposed alternative are HFOs (hydrofluoro-olefin) refrigerants, such as HFO-1234yf, which is being marketed and sold as a replacement for R134a in mobile air conditioning systems. Other HFOs, Rajendran continued, are “blends intended to create a refrigerant like R404A but with much lower GWP, and given a new mixture, one that can be used widely across all applications.”

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Understanding AC Refrigerant Standards

| Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 | 3 Comments

emerson-climate-inteligence

refrigerantBack in 1987, alarm about emissions of ozone layer-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and bromine gases led national governments worldwide to sign the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, a United Nations (UN) environmental agreement in which 197 countries and the European Union (EU) pledged to phase out production and use of CFCs, HCFCs and bromine gases. Though revised, more aggressive reduction targets for new refrigerant standards are being met, subsequent developments – rapid industrialization in large emerging market countries and the growing threats and costs of global warming – have complicated matters further.

Led by the European Union (EU), the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Federated States of Micronesia, an international movement is already underway to ban and find substitutes for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – the group of refrigerant gases now replacing ozone-depleting CFCs and HCFCs – that have lower Global Warming Potential (GWP). This is causing some confusion and consternation, and is being met with some resistance in industry, the marketplace and on the part of rapidly industrializing countries, such as Brazil, China and India, who are in the midst of phasing out CFCs and HCFCs, however.

The success of the Montreal Protocol to date demonstrates that such broad-based multilateral agreements can be effective in addressing urgent environmental issues on a global basis. On the other hand, the process also highlights the challenges, complexity, uncertainties and nuances involved in drafting and enacting effective and long-lasting government policies and regulations intended to enhance socioeconomic and environmental sustainability without sacrificing too much in the way of economic growth and development potential.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

UN-Water Defines Water Security, Highlights Threats & Mitigation Steps

| Friday March 22nd, 2013 | 0 Comments
Credit: "Water Security & the Global Water Agenda: A UN-Water Analytical Brief"

Credit: “Water Security & the Global Water Agenda: A UN-Water Analytical Brief”

Equitable, broad-based public access to sustainable, sanitary supplies of water is increasingly being seen as a security issue. A growing world population, global warming, growing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions and ongoing, growing disparities in the distribution of wealth and income and business-as-usual political economy – all threaten national, regional and international efforts to assure all members of society fair access to sustainable water resources.

Three high-profile international organizations called on the UN Security Council last September “to recognize water as one of the top security concerns facing the global community.” Support is also growing to include water issues on the UN’s mid-term strategic agenda as one of its Sustainable Development Goals, a strategic framework that is to succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

But just what is “water security?” A lot hinges on the definition in terms of policy formulation and project implementation at the local, national, regional and international scales. Aiming to provide clarity and direction, a team of UN and international water experts will mark World Water Day at UN headquarters in New York City March 22 by proposing a common working definition.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Mexico City’s Novel Emissions Reduction Program

| Wednesday March 20th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Mexico-water-shortage A novel residential water conservation-socioeconomic development project in Mexico highlights the linkages between water and energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation, climate change, and the broad-based social and economic development opportunities afforded by climate change adaptation and mitigation programs.

The first such Water, Energy, & Emissions Efficiency program to be registered with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Camino Sabio Azul (Cambio Azul) aims to tackle the issue of water conservation and efficiency by training and employing women plumbers to install free, efficient shower heads and faucet regulators in low-income housing, along with service monitoring and reporting for up to 10 years.

In addition to reducing water and energy use and water and power bills, the program is also expected to provide much-needed and sought-after employment to an underrepresented sector of the population. It should also go a long way toward “fostering a long-term cultural shift toward water and energy conservation,” according to Houston-based Investment Technology Resources (ITR)-Equinox Management Solutions, which is coordinating and managing the program through its Camino Sabio Azul S. de R.L. de C.V., a Mexican limited liability company.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

How Smart Climate Control Benefits Employee Wellness

| Tuesday March 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

emerson-climate-inteligence

indoor-air-pollutionOffices, restaurants, retail outlets, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, industrial plants – most of the work being done in the U.S. economy today takes place indoors, in offices and other types of commercial building space. Research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, most of it in the workplace. And as it turns out, exposure to indoor air pollutants can pose a greater health risk for many than exposure to air pollution outdoors.

Workplace temperature, humidity, air quality and movement, noise levels and levels of natural and artificial light – they’re all important, determining factors when it comes to employee health, wellness, comfort and productivity. In addition to helping stem troubling trends in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and overall ecological sustainability, a new generation of smart climate control technology and systems hold out the promise of enhancing employee health, wellness and comfort by improving air quality and overall indoor environmental quality in the workplace.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Reagan-Era Secretary of State Calls for Carbon Tax

| Tuesday March 19th, 2013 | 2 Comments

partnership for a secure america Having served as Secretary of State during former President Ronald Reagan’s two terms in office, George P. Shultz made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill March 8, urging Congressional legislators to overcome partisan divisions and take strong action on climate change.

An advisory board member of Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), Shultz and PSA executive director Andrew Semmel emphasized the links between climate change and national security, which they noted “has become increasingly well-recognized as a ‘threat multiplier’ in the security community.”

Climate change, national security & the energy revolution

Addressing a standing room-only crowd on Capitol Hill, Shultz stressed a pressing need for Congress to take strong, consistent action in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

Kiva Announces $400 Million Microfinance Milestone

| Tuesday March 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

kivaPioneering microfinance crowdfunding platform provider Kiva reached a milestone yesterday, announcing that $400 million in microloans have been made since opening for business in 2005.

Founded based on the idea that a “social lending” network could help alleviate poverty and expand economic opportunity, Kiva’s microfinance loans have now reached more than 1 million people in more than 65 countries, according to Kiva’s press release.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

‘Green Building’ Movement Gains Traction Worldwide

| Tuesday March 12th, 2013 | 2 Comments

world_green_building_coverThe “Green Building” movement is gathering momentum worldwide as businesses increasingly see attractive economic returns and social-environmental benefits from enhancing the overall sustainability of their operations, including initiatives to conserve and enhance efficiencies with regard to energy, water and other natural resources.

The number of businesses anticipating that more than 60 percent of their operations will be “green” by 2014 will more than triple in South Africa; more than double in Brazil, Germany and Norway; and increase from 33-68 percent in Australia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK and the US, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s, “World Green Building Trends – Business Benefits Driving New and Retrofit Market Opportunities in Over 60 Countries.”

Read Full Article » Discuss This »

How Smarter Thermostat Control Yields Energy Savings

| Tuesday March 5th, 2013 | 2 Comments

emerson-climate-inteligence

Old, inefficient HVAC units being replaced.

Old, inefficient HVAC units being replaced.

Heating and cooling a home, residential or commercial building has always been a major expense for home and business owners, one that’s more likely than not to rise in coming years given current trends in energy costs and consumption. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions, along with the uncertainty of economic conditions and government policies, complicate matters further.

All this has not gone unnoticed by home and business owners or the U.S. government, all of whom are on the lookout for new climate control and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) methods and technology that can lower energy usage, monthly expenses and greenhouse gas emissions.

Finding ways to meet these needs is opening up new sustainable business and market opportunities. Energy efficiency and HVAC equipment and service providers large and small, new and well established are coming out with a new generation of “smart” thermostat control equipment, systems and service solutions that make use of the latest business models, technological advances and innovations.

But what makes an HVAC or climate control system “smart”? What are the benefits and how can home and business owners looking to reduce their energy bills by making energy efficiency improvements educate and familiarize themselves with the latest HVAC and climate control systems and services in order to make the best possible decisions?

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of information readily available, so it’s worthwhile to sift, sort through and distill some key data and information to better inform, guide and make the decision-making process easier and more efficient.

Read Full Article » Discuss This »