Lofty Goals set for PARC’s new Solar Panels

| Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

parc2.jpgSolar power is all the rage these days when it comes to building green. And one group hoping to remain on the forefront of innovation is the Palo Alto Research Center or PARC, the storied research facility in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.
In a recent display of “next generation” technology, PARC researchers’ unveiled new gadgets and gizmos boasting the latest technology poised to make a splash as they come to market over the next year or so.
One of the major “advancements” on display was a new way to collect and use solar energy. Instead of huge rows of solar panels now being used around the world, PARC has just begun to market a series of convex mirrors that focus sunlight onto small silicon chips. The physical space these solar cells require on a building is similar to conventional solar panels, said Nitin Parekh, a PARC director, “but they are 500 times more efficient than current solar panels.” The efficiency, combined with advances in manufacturing processes, also make the panels more cost-effective than current solar panels.

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L.A. Joins the Ban on Plastic Bags – In 2010

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

plasticresized.jpg L.A. is the latest city to pass an ordinance to ban plastic bags from retail shops. The City Council decided this week that shoppers in the municipality will bring their own bag for their goodies or pay a quarter for a paper or biodegradable bag. The city has cited the need to reduce cleanup costs and to reduce debris that collects in storm drains and the L.A. River. So, when does this pathbreaking decree take effect? July 1, 2010. Yes, that’s right. Two years from now. Why the two-year delay, L.A.?

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Sub Federal Efforts To Reduce Oil Dependency Begin To Take Off

| Wednesday July 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

tie.jpgVarious states and cities in North America are adopting legislation to target specific goals reducing their carbon footprints and they are ahead of the game compared to their federal counterparts. The projects highlight a display of creativity and appear feasible if only because they all have clear, measurable targets.
Authorities at sub federal level who are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint or draw up plans to account for peak oil generally are motivated by concerns for their citizens’ welfare. What if peak oil is here to stay? What kind of measures would be necessary to redress the economic imbalances that it causes? Should contingency plans be drawn up? Authorities around the US and Canada thus far have taken various types of action, ranging from conducting internal vulnerability studies, internal policy assessments, creating community vulnerability task forces, and implementing these task forces’ resolutions and ordinances.

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When The US Government Gets Round To Regulating CO2 Emissions All Hell Will Break Loose In The Scramble For Natural Gas Resources

| Wednesday July 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Amid all the talk about peak oil the debate about natural gas is getting snowed under. But not for ever, if you take a new research report into the upcoming scramble for natural resources seriously. The report, issued by global consultant Booz & Company, predicts that tightened CO2 regulations in the next few years will lead to a run on natural gas by US companies.
US industry will likely direct their demand to the natural gas suppliers that currently sell to Europe. And the competitive picture that’s set to emerge won’t look pretty. Is this a scare story? Only for those who support the policy by the incumbent US government not to start out with drawing up regulations for mandatory CO2 limitations.

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Truth & Consequences: Oregonian Floats “Gas Price Relief Act” as Bush Hangover Hits Early

| Tuesday July 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

The housing, and now financial markets are imploding, the foreign exchange value of the dollar is dropping to unknown depths, the government deficit has expanded like a mushroom cloud, we continue to send men and women to fight two full-blown wars overseas and our standing and influence abroad is waning – that’s quite a legacy, even for a president.
Meanwhile, oil prices have more than tripled in five years and gasoline prices in the past seven, exacerbating the pain. While squashing any hint of expression of alternative paths throughout federal government apparatus, and despite all evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration maintains we can and should drill our way out of it. Is this another example of self-serving rhetoric, handing out political favors as rewards and presidential strong-arming, or well-conceived and thought out policy making worthy of national leadership?
I don’t want to appear overly negative, but it is useful, and constructive, to face up to difficult situations and assess and state things as fully and plainly as possible. After all, if you don’t really and fully recognize and clearly and explicitly state the nature of a problem, or problems, chances are you don’t appreciate them well enough to make the type of sound judgments or make the choices that result in good, workable solutions.
On the brighter side, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) last week introduced H.R.6495, the “Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act.” Bi-partisan in that its co-sponsors are Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), the bill, if passed, seeks to provide immediate relief to U.S. families while taking a step in the direction of re-orienting U.S. transportation, and hence energy, policy.

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Shell Revives Age Old Lime To Oceans Project In A Bid To Combat Global Warming

| Tuesday July 22nd, 2008 | 5 Comments

limestone%20whatley.jpgIt’s been a while since the last big to-do about adding limestone to the planet’s oceanic waters, but researchers sponsored by oil company Shell are saying that they’ve found the ultimate solution this time.
Adding limestone extracts to the surface of the planet’s oceans could dramatically lower the levels of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is because adding lime to seawater creates an increase in alkalinity, which in turn improves the water’s ability to scrub the air clean of carbon.

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ClimatePULSE: How to Avoid Catastrophe by Preparing for Greenhouse Gas Legislation

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgIt is important that every company consider various forms of GHG regulations, specifically the impact on the business and which forms they will be most sensitive to. This week we’ll take a look at three different and equally likely forms of GHG legislation to help your company better understand its possible exposure and risk mitigation strategies.

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The UK’s Green New Deal to Combat Economic Depression, Climate Change

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

newdeal.jpg Inciting the rhetoric of FDR during the days of the Great Depression, several economists, politicians, and environmentalists in the UK have made news recently with the proposal of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to fight the triple threats of the credit crunch, high gas prices, and climate change that are factoring to degrade life and the world as we know it.
Many have claimed that the present economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. Drawing many parallels to FDR’s initiatives in the 1930’s, the group has set a goal of 100 months to prevent global warming and other serious economic and environmental effects. Though it is not as radical as FDR’s 100 days plan, the group similarly wants to start with how financial institutions are run. According to an article on the Guardian UK‘s website, amongst other things, the proposals seek to redistribute the “distorting power” of the banking industry. They suggest that large banking groups be forcibly split up to minimize the systemic risk that federal bailouts of institutions like Northern Rock and Bear Stearns pose.

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Climate Change Business Consulting; A Review Of Major League Players’ Strengths And Weaknesses

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

climatechange.jpgResearch into the best business consultants on climate change issues reveals that the bigger the consultancy, the better value for money you get. A report by Verdantix, a British consultancy, concludes that of 16 major league consultants, IFC International scored best.

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California First State to Adopt Green Building Code

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

California adopts green building standards

The California Building Standards Commission announced on Friday the unanimous adoption of a statewide “green” building code, the first in the nation.

The new standards will call for a 20% improvement in water use efficiency for both residential and commercial plumbing fixtures as well as target a 50% increase in conservation for water used in landscaping.

The new code will also require all new construction to reduce energy consumption by 15%.

Governor Schwarzenegger said in a statement (pdf):

“By adopting this first-in-the-nation statewide green building code, California is again leading the way to fight climate change and protect the environment.”

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Protecting the Siberian Tiger, and Livelihoods, in northeast China

| Saturday July 19th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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Looking to report to the international community and U.S. donors, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s‚ÄòForever Siberian Tigers’ project team at the Hunchun Nature Reserve in northeast China has put out the third edition of its English language newsletter, in which it reports on recent conservation, public outreach and educational efforts to protect the endangered Siberian tiger, including the implementation of MIST, a conservation management information system.
Only an estimated 330-370 adult Siberian tigers are believed to exist in the wild and most of them have been pushed into the mountainous borderlands of the Russian Far East and northeast China.
Home to a unique assemblage of plant and animal life, Far Eastern Russia’s Sikhote-Alin and China’s East Manchurian Mountains are two of the rapidly declining numbers of large areas in the world that can boast of an exceptional variety of large mammals, including boreal lynx and wolf, the Himalayan black bear, the Asian sika and temperate region red deer.
They are also home to the Amur, or Far Eastern, leopard, a species in even greater threat of extinction. Their numbers have been reduced to a mere 25-30, according to the most recent surveys, primarily due to habitat loss that includes expanding populations, land development and natural resource exploitation, according to the WCS.

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The Nature of Efficiency: Innovation in Action Part 3: PAX Scientific – Extracting the Mathematics of Nature

| Friday July 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

PAX Scientific - Cultivating the Streamline PrincipleLooking once again to Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn’s book Earth the Sequel – The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming that explores the work people are doing to find real solutions for our current unsustainable energy economy we look, actually, to nature itself.

At least that’s what Jay Harmon does, and what led him to found PAX Scientific, based in San Rafael California.  

Harmon’s fascination with natural systems focuses on fluid dynamics and began many years ago as a boy growing up on the beaches of Australia. This led to a stint with the Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife where he worked as a naturalist studying flow patterns of ocean and air currents.

Harmon’s intuition allowed him to see in the movement of air and water, and in the materials that flowed through them, the underlying mathematical patterns, the geometry of design, and the natural efficiency it represented. Harmon understood that the nature of efficiency is best expressed in the efficiency of nature.  

From a cloud comes a fan, a lily becomes a water impeller. Suddenly industrial processes and products are made more efficient.

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No More Chocolate in 20 Years?

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday July 17th, 2008 | 7 Comments

chocolate.jpeg The cacao bean is in danger. The Nature Conservation Research Council (NCRC) recently announced that in 20 years time, “Chocolate will be much like caviar today.” So what’s the deal?
Unsustainable farming practices are to blame. Cacao typically grows in rainforest conditions with high biodiversity. Instead, farmers now clear the forest and use hybrid seeds to increase output over the short-term. Unfortunately, this leads to soil erosion and shorter lifespan of trees. Over time, this practice is predicted to lead to an overall shortage of cacao.
While many a chocoholic may lament this news, I wish to provide our readers with a little firsthand “reality check.” Most of the world’s cacao is grown in West Africa. While living in Ghana during my study-abroad year as an undergraduate, I was struck by the fact that, even though Ghana is a net exporter of cacao, most of the country’s inhabitants could not afford to purchase a Cadbury or Hershey’s bar. Although I shared many a fresh, delicious cacao fruit with my Ghanaian friends, actually eating a chocolate bar was considered a luxury.
For Ghanaians, “no chocolate 20 years from now” is now. Such reminders are necessary to place in perspective predictions of ecological change and impacts on human populations. While we, in wealthy, industrialized countries, may fear with trepidation the loss of resources and biodiversity associated with global warming, it is important to remember that half the world’s peoples are already living that reality.

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Q&A With Tom Szaky – CEO of Terracycle

| Thursday July 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

wormy.jpgAt its inception, TerraCycle began with one product Рworm poop fertilizer.  Today, they offer a wide variety of products including cleaning products, rain barrels, tote bags, and more.  But these are no ordinary cleaning products, rain barrels, and tote bags.  They are great examples of what we call upcycling.  They take waste products (like Clif Bar wrappers, Capri Sun pouches, or Coke bottles) and turn them into useful stuff.
Now is your chance to ask TerraCycle’s CEO, Tom Szaky, all the questions you’ve been dying to pose.¬† At Huddler’s Green Home, they’re putting together a crowd sourced interview.¬† So for the next few days, post your questions in their forums and make sure to vote on your favorites.¬† Then they’ll take the best 10, send them over to Tom to get answered and we’ll publish the full interview here on Triple Pundit.¬† What are you waiting for?¬† Make sure your question is in the mix!
Again, the link to post is HERE.

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2nd Gen Ethanol Moves Forward with NREL-Dow Agreement

| Wednesday July 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Aiming to reduce dependence on imported oil, the the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Dow Chemical Company announced an agreement today to jointly develop and evaluate a process that will convert biomass to ethanol, as well as a range of other chemical products, by making use of a new mixed alcohol catalyst developed by Dow.
The thermochemical process would cut CO2 exhaust emissions by as much as 80% and not rely on food crops. Biomass, such as the leaves and stem of corn plants and wood waste, will be used as feedstock and first converted into bio-synthesis gas, or syngas, through the application of high pressure, heat, steam and oxygen then converted into ethanol and other useful chemical alcohols by passing it through reactor where biochemical reaction driven by Dow’s catalyst will produce ethanol and other useful bio-based chemical building blocks.
The joint evaluation program will focus on improving the mixed alcohol catalyst, as well as demonstrating pilot scale performance and the commercial relevance of an integrated facility, according to a Dow Chemical media release.

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