It’s a known fact that trees are only temporarily carbon sequesters and that by the time they start to rot, all the nasty material gets transmitted back into the atmosphere again. So why not prevent this? Thus far we’ve been held back from doing so because intervening into the natural cycle somehow doesn’t feel right. But if we only tidied up one sixth of all the tree wastage lying around on the forest floors, we’d be nearing the carbon levels emitted by burning fossil fuels.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
Growing energy demand and peaking fossil fuel production may lead to worldwide economic depression and disastrous climate warming as oil and fossil fuel production peaks and energy demand continues to increase, cautions Feasta, the Foundation for Economics of Sustainability.
Seeing parallels between economic developments today and the disastrous effects of petrodollar recycling seen in the 1970s – stagflation, a massive debt crisis and a 20-year-long slump in oil prices – the trillion or so dollars a year over and above anticipated revenues being funneled to oil exporters and the governments of oil exporting nations taking place today not only is the largest and fastest transfer of wealth yet seen in economic history, it is driving dislocations in savings, investment, economic growth and capital allocation that threaten the prevailing global economic system, Feasta argues.
Turning the economic concept of scarcity rent on its head in its May 2008 paper, “Cap and Share: A fair way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Feasta proposes addressing both issues through the establishment of a politically practical, market-based Cap-and-Share system that would cap and then rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by giving every adult in countries that adopted it the means of generating income from rising oil and fossil fuel prices.
As stated in the executive summary, “The paper argues that C&S needs to be adopted urgently not just for climate reasons but because the scarcity rent being captured by fossil fuel producers is concentrating global wealth in a way that threatens to collapse the world economy. The payment of scarcity rent is already causing severe hardship for millions of poorer people around the world.”
Walking through some trendy shopping district, with seasonal banners/flags above, do you ever wonder where they go after they’ve been switched out? In most cases, they get disposed of, adding to the waste stream. While it could be argued that these districts could find other creative, less resource intensive ways to promote themselves, one area, Commercial Drive in Vancouver, has taken another path:
They take previously used banners and make them into attractive shopping bags, 10 colors in all, in two sizes. This is brilliant for multiple reasons: It takes the current burgeoning popularity of eco friendly shopping bags, and gives people the option to get a visually unique choice. And it’s a conversation piece that will likely result in additional person to person promotion of the shopping district it came from, and the store that they purchased it at.
Aware that re-purposed billboards have long been around doing this same trick, the Commercial Drive district bag initiative also donates proceeds from these bags to the creation of new green spaces in the area.
What sort of impact does this have?
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Republicans are unwilling to slap a 25% windfall profits tax and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years for Big Oil that were earmarked to provide incentives to develop alternative energy, arguing that such measures would only add to gasoline prices at the pump and increase U.S. reliance on foreign oil.
In blocking a Democrat-led bill voted on in the Senate yesterday, they also blocked renewal of the renewable energy production tax credit for solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.
The bill would have also given Congress greater powers to take action against excessive oil market speculation, increasingly viewed as a big factor in the oil price rise as Saudi Arabia makes the case that recent price rises are unwarranted in light of supply-demand conditions. It would also have made energy price gouging a federal crime and would have opened up the possibility of anti-trust actions against OPEC members, accoridng to an AP report.
Canada’s derivatives exchange in Montreal has begun trading the country’s first carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) contracts. The newly established Montreal Climate Exchange (MCeX) developed the product together with the Chicago Climate Exchange in the US. The CO2e units can be traded by industrial companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The listing of the MCeX futures contract is a ‚Äòfirst’ and it makes Montr√©al the first regulated environmental market in Canada.Click to continue reading »
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There’s a new player moving forward with plans to add to the world’s supply of high-purity silicon. With supplies tight and demand for polysilicon forecast to continue growing strongly on the back of demand for silicon-based solar photovoltaics and semiconductors, Pasadena-based
Jacobs Engineering Group announced today that it will provide engineering, procurement and construction management services for Italy’s Estelux, which plans to construct a state-of-the-art polysilicon manufacturing facility, on the site of an existing petrochemical plant in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna.
At a cost of 360 million euros and due to be completed in 2010, the plant will have the capacity to produce 4,000 tons of polysilicon per year. Backed by investors including Solon Photovoltaik, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of solar PV modules, Estelux sees the gap between polysilicon supply and demand continuing to widen. Production totaled approximately 32,000 tons in 2005.
Despite all the talk about green interior design, there’s a long way to go before we live with furniture and household items that are actually biodegradable. A truly green sofa ought to be disposable via the compost heap in your own garden by the time you’re done with it, don’t you agree? That’s the central argument in the Cradle2Cradle philosophy. Unlike durable design, C2C is the real end of the throw away society.
The C2C philosophy has been around for the last five years, but to find furniture designers that adhere to its principles it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. A recently created design house by eight Dutch design students has embraced C2C fully. The company, called Artishok, has just completed its first designs after spending months researching the best 100% biodegradable materials for modern furniture.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s make sure we’re all clear on what a carbon offset actually is. In its most simplified form, a carbon offset is a commitment that 1 metric ton of C02 equivalent has been prevented from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. Whew. Feel free to read that again if you need to. The offset can come about through dozens of different means like tradable credits from the Chicago Climate Exchange, or they can take the form of different carbon reduction projects.
Carbon offsets can be categorized into three main types: renewable (emissions free) energy generation, energy efficiency, and sequestration. The first two avoid emissions, while sequestration projects attempt to aim to absorb or capture emissions that have already occurred.
At this past week’s Dwell on Design LA conference and expo, one of the most striking conversations centered on whether LEED standards are enough to meet the growing climate challenge. Energy consumption by buildings contribute to almost half of carbon emissions in the U.S. As a result, many city governments, including Los Angeles, have created ordinances for new buildings to comply with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. But just how effective are LEED standards in addressing resource consumption and carbon ouput? Is LEED becoming more of a marketing tool for high-rise developers? Influential players in the field were present at Dwell on Design LA to discuss these very topics.Click to continue reading »
With gas prices breaking new records every day I am wondering, is it better for the environment to fly or drive to my summer vacation?
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the quick answer is that driving is far better than flying. But let’s see why that is.
According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the internationally accepted process for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, the emissions from a long-haul (less than 1,000 miles) flight are 180 grams per passenger mile. So a nonstop flight from San Francisco to Boston would create 487 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per person (2,708 miles x 180 g/passenger mile), or almost 1 ton for a round-trip. For a family of three, the “carbon footprint” of your vacation would already be almost 3 tons! Generally, larger airplanes are more efficient per mile, so short-haul flights release even more emissions.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/ask_pablo/2008/06/09/ask_pablo_summer_travel/index.html
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*Photo Courtesy: EPA/Robin Townsend
A week or so ago it was fishermen and seafood supplies, now its food supplies in general, as well as fuel, a bevy of other products and traffic flow that’s being disrupted in Spain as truckers have gone on strike in protest of rapidly rising fuel prices.
Truckers blocked principal routes into major cities around Spain this morning and are refusing to transport food, fuel and a range of other supplies, including new cars, as a call for an indefinite national strike begins its third day. With news reports fanning concerns people are beginning to horde fish, meat and other foodstuffs.
Mounting price pressures and the growing number of protests and demonstrations in developing and developed countries around the world has led Saudi Arabia’s cabinet to call for an international meeting of oil producers and consumers.
Intel further detailed plans for its Atom processor at this year’s Computex. The company is expecting the processor to create a whole new set of computers dubbed “netbooks” and “nettops,” low-power systems that are primarily used for internet and other basic functions such as listening to music and word processing. “Netbooks” will be much smaller in terms of storage (2-4 GB) and screen size (7-10 inches) and priced around $250.
The Atom uses a much lower voltage than conventional desktop and notebook processors. Intel’s current Core 2 Duo processors max out at 35W, the Atom will top out at 4W. While a computer’s total wattage includes other components – power for the hard drive, optical drive, graphics processor, etc. – the drop in processor wattage is significant. Intel is hoping new technology such as flash-based storage will be used to help further decrease the energy used in the systems. Low voltage not only means better battery life, but decreased energy demand and environmental impact, a plus for users and the planet. Pricing a computer at $250 also means making the computer available to people with a wider range of incomes, serving the people aspect of the triple bottom line.
The California Energy Commission has given the City of San Francisco a $1 million dollar grant to build a pilot grease-to-biofuel facility at the SFPUC’s Oceanside Sewage Treatment Plant.
San Francisco began working with biodiesel the SFGreasecycle program in November of 2007 to collect some of the 1.5 million gallons of “yellow grease” produced in the frying pans and kitchens of participating city restaurants and residents. The collected grease is sold to area biodiesel producers and then bought back to fuel the city’s municipal vehicles.
The City intends to “create a closed loop where grease is collected from restaurants and then recycled into fuel that the city buys back to power its 1,500 vehicles”, says the San Francisco Business Times. Also reported in the SFBizTimes are objections from private producers has made it hard to make a profit. Claims that the City’s Greasecyle free collection program undercuts commercial producers have forced companies like Oakland-based Blue Sky Biofuels out of the program.
The pilot facility at the Oceanside Sewage Treatment Plant will provide the means for San Francisco to produce its own biodiesel – further frustrating local biofuel producers.Click to continue reading »
UN chief Ban Ki-moon opened the international summit on the global food crisis in Rome last week by calling for a 50 per cent increase in food production by the year 2030. As the High-level Conference on World Food Security concluded the UN’s long-term focus was revealed; to improve food security whilst increasing production and agricultural financing. For Ban, the world has a “historic opportunity to revitalise agriculture” and must “respond immediately” to improve food security and eliminate “trade and taxation policies that distort markets.”
With this declaration the momentum for change is growing, but is this direction going to see the development of sustainable agricultural practices? Will it relieve hunger and improve the quality of lives for the global poor? Or will the rich poor divide worsen through further entrenchment of existing mechanisms that control trade and production in favor of Western politics and economics?
The global food price crisis has been brought about by an increased demand for biofuels, poor harvests from changing environments, increasing transportation costs, land development, a growing Asian market as well as unfavorable trade characteristics. The poorest people around the world have been hit hardest, sparking food riots in some places, for example Haiti, Cameroon and Egypt, as well as food export restrictions in many others such as India, Vietnam and Brazil.
The voluntary carbon market has grown at an astonishing rate over the past few years. Since 2006 we have witnessed an enormous surge in the carbon offset market. Many companies and institutions have even become familiar with not only how carbon offset programs work, but how these programs can net them a hefty gain both financially and for their public reputation and brand. But how are carbon offset programs like the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) useful as a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction tool?
The stated objective of voluntary carbon offset programs like the VCS is to standardize and add credibility to offset emissions from certain projects. For example, the VCS is involved with programs aimed at evaluating clean-energy projects in developing countries that are used to offset industrialized nations’ emissions of GHGs under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Nevertheless, we need to look at programs like the VCS in detail and evaluate just how effective they are at adding value to offset projects.