Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Rapid population growth in the developing world does not significantly contribute to rising greenhouse gas emissions and focusing on the population explosion in poor countries diverts attention from the far more serious issue of over-consumption in rich countries, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by the International Institute for Environment and Development, analyzed population growth and CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2005 and concluded that rising populations in sub-Saharan Africa and other poor regions have had a negligible impact on global warming.
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Several interesting CleanTechies articles on LEED have covered the topic from different angles — this one will add a new perspective by giving a commercial example (and make a strong case for going green).
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification is given based on an exam facilitated by the Green Building Certification Institute on behalf of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Multiple structures and projects are eligible for LEED certification and each is judged based on a set of criteria. LEED ratings are available for New Construction, Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell (total building minus interior), Homes, Neighborhood Development, Schools and Retail. Points are given in six categories including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation & Design Process. Based on the score a structure receives, it will receive a label which allows an easy understanding for just how many of the LEED features the project incorporates.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
NPR’s Morning Edition recently aired this story, a variation on a theme that I have written about in the past on CleanTechies and in scholarly work: green backlash against renewable power. The Morning Edition piece focused on the land use implications of renewables, noting that it takes a lot more land to generate a terawatt of solar, wind or biofueled electricity than of coal or natural gas power.
True enough. But, for me, it all comes down to the threshold question: do you believe the worst-case climate scenarios? If your answer is yes, and you have the courage of those convictions, then you realize — as I have — that we have no choice, and no time to dawdle. People who answer that question affirmatively know that the paradigm shifts in energy production and consumption that are necessary if we are to have any chance of righting our climatological ship will face knee-jerk opposition and demagoguery from opponents (s, e.g., the spring time bloodbath over the Waxman-Markey bill). A movement that remains — however gallingly — on such tenuous footing cannot afford to endure the additional obstacle of in-fighting over policy nuances. To twist a familiar and over-used metaphor:
Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Facing the prospect that the federal government may soon begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is proposing a public hearing in which the chamber and allied scientists question whether human-caused global warming is real.
William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice-president for environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold the rare public hearing, complete with witnesses, cross-examinations, and a judge who would rule whether man is indeed warming the planet.
Kovacs likened the hearing to “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century,” referring to the famed 1925 court case in which a Tennessee teacher was illegally accused of teaching evolution. “It would be the science of climate change on trial,” said Kovacs, adding that if the EPA refuses to hold a hearing, the chamber will file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the notion of man-made global warming.
Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Singapore is a bustling city state at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia. Independent from Malaysia since 1965, it has a dense population of 4.7 million people crammed into 269 sq. miles (697 sq. km)— that’s roughly 3.5x the size of Washington D.C.
In spite of its lacking land mass, the tiny country is a major economic hub in Southeast Asia and boasts one of the best standards of living of any Asian city, and even rivals many metropolis overseas.
It’s a city that is well planned, tightly regulated, visually attractive, and thankfully lacking the woeful pollution that afflict other centers like Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Waste and the City
All the economic activity and large population of course is not without its downside: waste. In 2008 the total volume of solid waste had reached 5.97 million tons. Luckily, according to government figures, roughly 2.24 million tons (approx. 56%) of this was recycled. That still left a lot left to deal with.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
Biofuels – made from algae and non-food plants – are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.
Earlier this year, a Continental jet accelerated down the runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Nothing out of the ordinary for Capt. Rich Jankowski, who countless times in his 38-year career had eased such two-engine Boeing 737-800s into the sky. Except on this experimental flight, one of the engines Jankowski relied on was burning fuel derived from microscopic algae to push the 45-ton aircraft into the air and keep it aloft — a first in aviation history.
Friday, July 31st, 2009
The goal is to enable power generation from low-temperature geothermal resources at an economical cost. In addition to being a clean energy source without any greenhouse gas emissions, geothermal is also a steady and dependable source of power.
A new method for capturing significantly more heat from low-temperature geothermal resources holds promise for generating virtually pollution-free electrical energy. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are testing a new innovative approach to safely and economically extract and convert heat from vast untapped geothermal resources.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
As media sponsor of the 5th Germany California Solar Day that took place in San Francisco last month, CleanTechies is pleased to announce another exciting green tech event organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce:
Mobility 2030: Transportation Technologies & Lifestyles of the Future
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
HR 2454 or the Waxman-Markey bill, named after its two major supporters Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was passed in the US House of Representatives on June 27. Its major mandate is a cap and trade system though it does have other green practices scattered throughout. There has been a lot of talk recently, because of this bill, of the viability of a cap and trade system in the US. To evaluate the government’s ability to implement this new system we have to first understand it.
The basics of a cap and trade are fairly simple. It is a way to limit emissions through a credit system. Every business acquires a certain amount of credits; depending on the type of system these credits are either auctioned off or given away by the government. These credits represent the amount of carbon that businesses can emit. If the business cannot adhere to the limit of emissions their credits allow, they must buy credits from companies who are below their cap. Thus the companies who are responsible and limit their emissions are rewarded and those who are not as environmentally friendly are punished.
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
France is currently thinking of enacting a carbon tax to increase climate change mitigation efforts. If enacted, it would be applied to the consumption of energy in general.
With French electricity being mostly low carbon, the majority of the tax revenues would come from the transportation and housing sectors.
It is worth noting that this new tax would be compensated by a decrease in charges associated to labor.
A ton of carbon dioxide would cost emitters €32 euros (around $45) in 2010 and would bring the government an estimated €8.73 billion ($12.328 billion) during the first year.
Out of these, €3.57 billion would be collected from French households and the remaining €5.16 billion from companies and administrations.
In order to divide greenhouse gases emissions by a factor of four by 2050, the tax would increase with time to reach €56 ($80) in 2020, €100 ($140) in 2030 and around €200 ($280) in 2050.