Sustainability

Category Archives: Climate Change

California Will Require Solar Power for New Homes

SACRAMENTO — Long a leader and trendsetter in its clean-energy goals, California took a giant step on Wednesday, becoming the first state to require all new homes to have solar power.

The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now. It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.

That made the relative ease of its approval — in a unanimous vote by the five-member California Energy Commission before a standing-room crowd, with little debate — all the more remarkable.

State officials and clean-energy advocates say the extra cost to home buyers will be more than made up in lower energy bills. That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capability as a selling point.

One of the most worrisome predictions about climate change may be coming true

Two years ago, former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and a number of colleagues laid out a dire scenario in which gigantic pulses of fresh water from melting glaciers could upend the circulation of the oceans, leading to a world of fast-rising seas and even superstorms.

Hansen’s scenario was based on a computer simulation, not hard data from the real world, and met with skepticism from a number of other climate scientists. But now, a new oceanographic study appears to have confirmed one aspect of this picture — in its early stages, at least.

The new research, based on ocean measurements off the coast of East Antarctica, shows that melting Antarctic glaciers are indeed freshening the ocean around them. And this, in turn, is blocking a process in which cold and salty ocean water sinks below the sea surface in winter, forming “the densest water on the Earth,” in the words of study lead author Alessandro Silvano, a researcher with the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/04/23/one-of-the-most-worrisome-predictions-about-climate-change-may-be-coming-true/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.350ee40a21c8

7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

Our understanding of Earth — and how we’re changing it — just keeps expanding.

Earth Day turns 48 today, April 22, and Google is celebrating it with a Google Doodle of conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, who nudges us in a video a “do our part for this beautiful planet.”

When Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.) founded Earth Day in 1970, his hope was to make the environment a political issue in an era where US rivers caught on fire and thick smog choked cities.

In many ways, it worked. Since then, major environmental laws have helped clean up much of the vivid toxic detritus in the soil, air, and water in the US. But our challenges today are no less daunting. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the loss of wilderness and species, and the acidification and pollution of the oceans have all become more acute — and more destabilizing.

In keeping with the tradition started by former Vox writers Brad Plumer and Joseph Stromberg, here are seven of the most troubling, intriguing, and encouraging things we learned about the Earth since the last Earth Day.

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/21/17247994/earth-day-2018-plastic-climate-change

Achieving 100% Renewable Energy is Within Our Reach

“..if you pay a power bill [100% renewable] is increasingly the common-sense path forward.”

We watch in horror as the damages from climate change continue to mount.

Last year, Hurricane Harvey dropped more rain on Houston than any storm has ever dropped on any American city, ever. Hurricane Maria set back development in Puerto Rico 25 years, according to early estimates. And the tab keeps mounting: in 2017 alone, the economic cost of hurricanes and wildfires was greater than the cost of paying tuition for every American in a public college or university. We can’t have a working nation or a world if we don’t stop the climate from careening out of control. That’s been clear for decades now, but what’s been less clear is precisely what we should do about it.

Happily, that’s no longer the case. We now know exactly what to do, and we’re increasingly certain it can be done. We have to switch off of coal, oil, and gas, and on to 100% wind, water, and sun energy sources. And though this drive for a conversion to clean energy started in northern Europe and northern California, it’s a call that’s gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves. More and more major US cities have taken the pledge to go 100% renewable by the year 2050, while others have taken action to sever their ties with the fossil fuel industry, signifying a global shift in how we’re thinking about our energy system.

https://www.sandersinstitute.com/blog/04/18/2018/achieving-100-renewable-energy

Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day – equal to a pound per person


Research shows people with healthy diets rich in fruit and vegetables are the most wasteful and calls for better education for consumers

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/18/americans-waste-food-fruit-vegetables-study

About 150,000 tons of food is tossed out in US households each day, equivalent to about a third of the daily calories that each American consumes. Fruit and vegetables were the most likely to be thrown out, followed by dairy and then meat.

This waste has an environmental toll, with the volume of discarded food equivalent to the yearly use of 30m acres of land, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water. Rotting food also clogs up landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture analysed eight years of food data, up to 2014, to see where food is wasted and also what members of the public say they do at mealtimes. The research has been published in Plos One.

 

World’s First Road That Recharges Vehicles While Driving Opens in Sweden

(VIDEO at link)

Sweden inaugurated on Wednesday the first road of its kind that can recharge commercial and passenger car batteries while driving.

The eRoadArlanda project consists of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of electric rail installed on a public road outside Arlanda Airport. The innovation was funded by the Swedish Transport Administration and is part of the government’s goal of fossil fuel-free transportation infrastructure by 2030.

According to the project website, the road works by transferring energy from an electrified rail to a movable arm attached underneath the vehicle. The arm is able to detect and lower onto the electrified section when the vehicle drives above it.

The road is divided into 50-meter sections, with each section supplying power only when a vehicle is above it. When the vehicle stops, the current is disconnected. The system is also able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user.

A diesel-turned-electric truck owned by logistics firm PostNord is the first to use the road. Over the next 12 months, the truck will stay juiced as it shuttles deliveries between Arlanda Airport and its distribution center 12 kilometers away, The Local reported.

https://www.ecowatch.com/electric-vehicles-recharge-road-sweden-2559608067.html

Try ‘Wildevore Diet’ For Healthy Living

We have all heard of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets. But have you heard about wildevore diet? Surely, no! Nowadays, dieting is considered a national obsession among everyone. These types of diets mentioned above are definitely healthy and less fatty, but it might have a negative impact on one’s health and sense of well being. Concerns about climate change, environmental stress and animal welfare mean that “what we eat is an ethical as well as a health issue.”

The two women, who are promoting the all-new ‘wildevore diet’, said that the new approach will help people to show how they can eat to benefit their own health while making planet-friendly choices at the same time. The Wildevore diet incorporates some of the philosophies of veganism, vegetarianism, flexitarianism, ethical omnivorism, and clean eating, but it looks more closely at the pressures on the environment and the impact that has on human health, according to The Ecologist.

The new eating approach identifies on how to make the best choices both ‘nutritionally and ethically’ and aims at educating the people about where their food originates from. Health problems Caroline Grindrod, an environmental conservationist, writer, and Wildevore coach, and Georgia Winfield-Hayes, a nutritionist both agree that the new eating diet is not for the “faint-hearted, requiring some serious homework and a desire to change habits.”

The system can work for vegans and meat-eaters, but there is an underlying need to understand the consequences of food choices. In the Wildevore diet, meat reared on regenerative farms and fed on natural diets is allowed for its human health benefits. Georgia, who has written extensively on human nutrition, said that a vegan diet does not ‘always’ provide the best results.

‘From a health perspective a vegan diet, in the short term is an amazing way to cleanse the body and this feels great,” Georgia said. “However, long-term it can create serious health problems. Soya, the main protein source for many vegans, is a hormone-disrupting food and can cause our own reproductive systems to stop working correctly,” she added.

https://www.mid-day.com/articles/try-wildevore-diet-for-healthy-living/19235171

Coffee and Deforestation: Addressing Coffee’s Footprint

About one third of the world’s land, more than four billion hectares, is forest. Every year, this area decreases by an average of 13 million hectares, about the same size as 35 football fields per minute. The largest losses are observed in Africa and South America, mainly due to agriculture.

Coffee originates from the humid, tropical forests of Southern Ethiopia and South Sudan, and around the globe it is largely grown in many former forest landscapes,  some of which are located in biodiversity hotspots or protected areas, such as the Mata Atlântica and the Cerrado region in Brazil, the Mesoamerican Forests in Central America and the Eastern Afromontane Forests hosting the genetic diversity of Coffea Arabica in Ethiopia.

Yet the relationship between coffee and forest cover today is weakly addressed in our sector. We look at many other aspects related to sustainability in coffee: Where will future production come from if young people continue migrating from rural areas? How can productivity be increased to meet growing demand? How strongly will climate change impact production volumes, quality or specific coffee regions? Which varieties should be promoted to cope with rising temperatures and more irregular rainfall patterns? How can supply chains strengthen coffee producers in their operations?

Coffee and Deforestation: Addressing Coffee’s Footprint

US Electricity: Natural Gas & Coal Fall, While Renewables Continue to Rise

Electricity generation from both natural gas and coal fell in 2017. At the same time, renewables – especially hydropower, wind, and solar – continued to rise according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/us-electricity-natural-gas-coal-fall-while-renewables-continue-to-rise/

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