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Analysts at New Carbon Finance foresee a national cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme emerging in the U.S. in 2012-2013, one that by 2020 has the potential to grow to $1 trillion, more than twice the size of the European Union’s.
Though the Bush administration has said that any such legislation would be vetoed, the chances of a national cap-and-trade scheme being put into effect by law, perhaps as soon as 2009, look likely with the election of a new president, though the positions of the candidates, as well as the two houses of Congress, encompass a range of attitudes and approaches, the analysts note.
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As the US consumes 140 billion gallons of gasoline annually, the thought of transitioning to corn-based ethanol is a daunting one. If enormous quantities of land, water, pesticides, and food resources are dedicated to transportation fuel, the ramifications will be significant. Some have even called ethanol from food to be a crime against humanity.
A new technology is being fine-tuned by Coskata that can have global impacts on biofuels, with potential sources of fuel ranging from garbage to agricultural waste to construction debris. I was recently invited to tour the laboratory and I was struck by how this technology has the potential to shift the transportation fuel industry.
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Nearly half the water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. There are many solutions for under sink gray water units that help save and recycle usable water. A strong contender among the competition is the AQUS gray water system which efficiently captures the water from the sink and transfers it to the flusher. This handy unit can save up to 7 gallons of water per person each day, that figure adds up real quick.
The trick? The sink water first runs through a simplified dispenser or filter of sorts that houses bromine and chlorine tablets. These tablets kill the bacteria from the polluted sink water. A 5.5 gallon holding tank lies beneath your vanity and is attached to the dispenser. A modified p-trap directs the water from the sink through the dispenser and into the tank.
A fast favorite among green builders is the super durable HardiePlank siding. Not unlike the HardieBacker many of us are familiar with using when laying down tile. Composed of wood pulp, cement, sand and water, the end product will not rot, crack or split. The green benefits are many including the recycled components and the relative low embodied energy for manufacturing.
Compared to other siding options this product stands out as the main contender for a sound and sturdy green building material. It is also versatile; it can be faced to resemble that of stucco wood clapboards or cedar shingles. HardiePlank can also be pre-painted at the factory for those ready to install and walk away. In a world where wood siding needs constant maintenance and vinyl siding is toxic and flammable HardiePlank is the easy choice. The big kicker is it comes with a 50-year warranty. When green builders weigh the costs with the reward, HardiePlank seems to tip the scale in its favor. What potential homeowner is going to complain about an eco-friendly, low-maintenance, durable , and good-looking buidling material that lasts and lasts?? Just another smart way to provide sonsumers with something better while profiting at the same time.
What does “natural” mean anymore in the world of personal care products? According to a recent article on Fox Business, natural body care products are growing five times faster than conventional products. Without any regulatory body to certify what “natural” means, however, many consumers unwittingly buy products with ingredients they wish to avoid. So how does a company that is committed to using non-toxic ingredients differentiate itself from the phonies? Burt’s Bees is launching a new campaign this month that aims to do just that. Ecopreneurist called the strategy, “Attack the Ingredient, Not the Brand.”
“How do you get all the soft without the suspicious?” asks the Burt’s Bees ad in my Yoga Journal that arrived a few days ago. The ad depicts a tasteful picture of a woman’s naked body against a green nature background. The text superimposed on her skin reads, “Milk & Honey Vs. DMDM Hydantoin.” Under this heading, the benefits of milk and honey (“trusted ingredients that nourish and moisturize skin naturally”) are contrasted with the consequences of DMDM Hydantoin (“a chemical preservative linked to skin irritation” “can release formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen”). The tag line at the end says, “Have you read your body lotion label lately?”
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One cold day last Fall, I was coming out of Briar Patch Co-op, the first LEED certified commercial building in Grass Valley, California. Outside was a pack of bikers, who seemed to have that “biker shine,” that ineffable energy that they have, and this grouchy writer was having none of it. Or tried not to. Somehow, their charged energy felt different. You could say it seemed like they were on a mission.
Now, months later, I find that they were indeed on a mission. You see, they all had those extra long, extra useful, XtraCycle attachments on their bike, and they were the Ginger Ninjas, together with Shake Your Peace.
Who? Well amongst the ranks of these two bands were many from Xtracycle, based out of the renegade outpost known as North San Juan, California. And what were they doing? Going on a 5000 mile concert tour, entirely on bikes. Including their equipment. All part of what they call the Pleasant Revolution.
What’s so pleasant about it? Well this seems to sum it up well:
If your organization has ever attempted to calculate its eco-impact, then you know that this can be a time-consuming and expensive process. A new program, the “Footprint Scanner,” promises to change that. Using an improved methodology for analysis, the “Footprint Scanner” can deliver faster and more accurate results than traditional methods. So, how does it work and how can your organization benefit? I spoke with Jorgen Vos, of Sustainability Planning Partners, to find out more.Click to continue reading »
By Nathan Shedroff
Like the, now mythical, debate about Hummers vs Priuses, nuclear power is an issue who’s pros and cons largely can’t be addressed without an LCA (Life Cycle Analysis). Sure, Nuclear reactors, without a doubt, produce fewer carbon emissions than coal and other traditional power plants in their use phase – (actually, natural gas and hydro, both of which can be considered “traditional” as well, probably beat nuclear, not to mention renewable energy sources like solar and wind). But coal is the big, dirty source of power that makes nuclear look good so let’s stick with it, for now.
What this view of nuclear power doesn’t show us, however, is the massive impacts on the environment that nuclear has before and after its use phase. From the mining of the uranium and it’s sad, continuing legacy of heart-breaking heath effects and irresponsible history of safe-guarding local communities, to the refining and transportation of the fuel, to the building of the power plants themselves to the lack of viable, long-term options to deal with the waste – stretching into the thousands of years – nuclear powers’ impact vastly outweighs coal and dwarfs the impact of most other energy sources.
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A collaboration of physicists, scientists and businesses have teamed up to create cheap and highly effective solar cells on a nanoscopic scale. Spearheaded by the Idaho National Laboratory, this team is onto a fresh way of producing solar panels that can continue to absorb energy even after the sun has set. The technology, not only efficient at nearly 80%, will also be cheap to manufacture, at estimated pennies a yard.
A specialized manufacturing process will stamp tiny square spirals of a conducting metal onto a think sheet of plastic that have been coined “nanoantennas.” At the slight width on the order of 1/25 the diameter of a human hair, these nanoantennas can absorb energy produced through the infrared spectrum. Infrared energy is produced in massive quantities by the sun, a portion of which is absorbed by the earth only to be released as radiation after the sun has set. These nanoantennas can absorb energy from both the rays of the daylight sun and the heat radiated from the earth at a higher efficiency than modern solar cells.
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A recent survey of corporate executives published in the latest McKinsey Quarterly indicates that though climate change is considered important and awareness is high, relatively little is being done in terms of building climate change mitigation, energy usage and emissions reduction into corporate decision-making or operational processes. And yet while a large majority expect some form of regulation coming in their home countries, one-third see opportunities and risks equally balanced and more than one-third believe the effect on profits will, to varying degrees, be positive on the whole.
Sixty percent of respondents view climate change as an important consideration in determining overall strategy and nearly 70% consider it important for managing corporate reputation and brands. Yet 44% responded that climate change isn’t a significant item on their agendas. Moreover, many stated that their companies consider climate change only occasionally when managing corporate reputation and brands, developing new products or even managing environmental issues, according to the report.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I feel I should get my significant other some flowers. But I’ve read that flowers, especially in winter, have to be shipped from South America and other places. What’s a responsible Cupid to do?
Yes, Hallmark Day is upon us and it’s time to give our sweethearts sappy cards, chocolate and little heart-shaped candies that taste like chalk. Aside from the commercialization, I do appreciate the intent behind the holiday and intend to brighten my wife’s day with some flowers. You are right, though: With most of the nation in the midst of winter, there is little chance that those dozen roses are coming from your neighborhood rosebush.
The United States imports between 60 and 80 percent of its cut flowers, and most of them come from greenhouses in Latin America, or even as far away as Africa or Europe. Up to 90 percent of the roses sold for Valentine’s Day are from Colombia and Ecuador; in 2006, the wholesale value of imported roses was over $300 million.
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Every year the Worldwatch Institute publishes their annual State of the World Report. Each report outlines major factors effecting the sustainability and condition of human society and global environmental systems. In addition, each annual spotlights a specific topic of discussion. Recent issue of State of the World have focused on global security, the consumer society, China and India, and the future of urban society.
This year the focus is the growth in innovation and sustainability in business and the world economy.
“Environmental issues were once regarded as irrelevant to economic activity, but today they are dramatically rewriting the rules for business, investors, and consumers”.
-from the Worldwatch Institute website
Measuring Corporate Sustainability Across Sectors: How Do You Do It? State of Green Business 2008, Pt. 3
In a continuation of our analysis of the State of Green Business 2008 report by GreenBiz.com, we look at how to track corporate environmental sustainability practices across sectors. For this, we look to the work of Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. Innovest provides a rating service called the “Intangible Value Assessment” (IVA). For the sake of this report, the score of each sector over the past eight years was averaged to look at long-term patterns. So what indicators are used to measure “intangible value” of corporate sustainability? And what are the results?Click to continue reading »
The opacity of global oil supply data and just how much oil can be counted as Proven (90-95% probability of recovery), Probable (50%) or Possible Reserves (5-10%) has heightened uncertainty and added impetus to the arguments of Peak Oil theorists and proponents.
Taken together with the sharp and sustained oil price rise, rapid industrial growth in places like China, India and other large developing countries, the rapid rise to political prominence of climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts and associated incentives to promote alternative, renewable energy sources this has raised the uncertainty of demand for oil – and hence investment conditions – and put oil, and fossil fuel producers more generally, on the defensive. Looking at it cynically, you might say that they can cry all the way to the bank, at least for some time to come.
We’ve been keeping tabs on the progress of the Beluga SkySails, first modern commercial cargo vessel to harness wind power with a deployable computer controlled kite.
The ship arrived in the Venezuelan port of Guanta on Tuesday, leaving from Germany on January 22nd.
SkySails didn’t deploy the high-tech kite system until reaching the Azores, midway in her voyage. Once fully deployed, the system saved between 10 and 15 percent in fuel consumption, or $1000 to $1500 per day, according to Verena Frank, project manager for the SkySails. This was the first time the system had been tested under the difficult conditions of the mid-Atlantic.
As bugs get ironed out and crews gain expertise with the system, the kite can be deployed for up to half of a typical voyage while fuel conservation is expected to increase another 5 to 10 percent.
While some skeptics insist that the kite system isn’t practical for the largest cargo vessels, SkySails’ innovative approach and application of wind power may just prove the skeptics wrong.