Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

August 29, 2017 by  
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After Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas last weekend, you probably didn’t think the situation could get any worse. Sadly, it did. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil acknowledged that two of its refineries were damaged during the natural disaster, causing hazardous pollutants to leak into the environment. The acknowledgment was made in a regulatory filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, following repeated complaints on social media of an “unbearable” chemical smell in parts of Houston. In the filing, ExxonMobil said that a floating roof covering a tank at ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery sank due to heavy rain. This, in turn, caused it to dip below the surface of oil or other materials stored there, causing “unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals,” reports the Washington Post. The Baytown Refinery is the second largest in the country. ExxonMobil is seeking a permit to empty the tank and make repairs. Reportedly, the company is planning to “conduct an assessment to determine the impact of the storm once it is safe to do so.” A spokesperson for ExxonMobil refused to say what was in the tank. The extent of Hurricane Harvey’s damage doesn’t end there. ExxonMobil’s Beaumont petrochemical refinery suffered damage to its sulfur thermal oxidizers, which capture and burn sulfur dioxide. As a result, the plant expelled 1,312.84 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere — well in excess of allowable emissions. The company said in a statement, “The unit was stabilized. No impact to the community has been reported. Actions were taken to minimize emissions and to restore the refinery to normal operations.” Related: CA communities sue Exxon, Shell and 35 other fossil fuel companies over climate change According to Luke Metzger, director of the group Environment Texas, “Most of the unauthorized emissions come from the process of shutting down, and then starting up, the various units of the plant, when pollution control devices can’t be operated properly and there’s lots of flaring.” Flaring is usually done when releasing chemicals without burning them is more hazardous for the local community and environment. The company admitted to flaring hazardous materials at its Baytown refinery both Sunday and Monday. ExxonMobil isn’t the only company responsible for environmental damage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Washington Post reports that many facilities belonging to major companies filed notices with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Cedar Bayou chemical plant, for instance, exceeded permitted limits for several kinds of hazardous pollutants, including 1,3-butadiene, benzene and ethylene, during shutdown procedures. Litigation may now follow, considering the release of carcinogens increases the risk of cancer for those living near the plants. Via Washington Post Images via ExxonMobil , Pixabay

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Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

August 29, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based architects, Hoedemaker Pfeiffer  just unveiled a contemporary cabin-style home built on the banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. The architects used planks of reclaimed wood to build the stunning home, which sits overlooking incredibly scenic views. Think they have a guest room for us? The lake house design is a contemporary take on the traditional wooden cabin , with plenty of carefully cultivated rustic charm included throughout. The 3,300- square-foot structure – which is clad in reclaimed lumber and roofed with corrugated galvanized steel – sits on a heavily-wooded lot with front slope of natural stone. The interior is a bright and airy space with wooden flooring and exposed Doug Fir beams in the kitchen and living room. Related: Architect Jim Olson spent 55 years renovating this breathtaking Puget Sound cabin However, it’s clearly the lake view that inspired the beautiful home’s design. Large windows in virtually every room flood the interior with natural light as well as offer breathtaking views of the picturesque surroundings. The heart of the home is the open-air terrace that sits adjacent to the lake’s edge. Covered with a chunky wooden pergola , the outdoor area is complete with a glass-enclosed fire pit and plenty of comfy seating. + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Photography by Thomas J. Story  

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

Why mobility tech could be $600 billion boon for cities

June 28, 2017 by  
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From the way we use land to the emissions from public and private transit, an upheaval in transportation tech has big implications.

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Why mobility tech could be $600 billion boon for cities

Tyson Foods adopts video audits to monitor animal welfare

June 28, 2017 by  
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Company adopts new technological approaches in a bid to improve chicken and livestock well-being.

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Tyson Foods adopts video audits to monitor animal welfare

Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

May 18, 2017 by  
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Consider that the most environmentally friendly states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Connecticut, while the lowest are Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana and Wyoming. Notice a pattern? It turns out that political…

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Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

April 6, 2017 by  
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In another sign that the world is rapidly moving away from coal , the European electricity sector just announced a commitment to not invest in new coal-fired power plants after 2020. Every European Union country signed onto the initiative except for Poland and Greece. The Union of the Electricity Industry, otherwise known as Eurelectric , which represents 3,500 utilities with a combined value of over €200 billion, reiterated its commitment to decarbonize the EU economy in line with targets set in the Paris climate agreement . Europe’s power sector is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “The power sector is determined to lead the energy transition and back our commitment to the low carbon economy with concrete action,” said Eurelectric President and CEO of the Portuguese energy group EDP, António Mexia. “With power supply becoming increasingly clean, electric technologies are an obvious choice for replacing fossil fuel based systems for instance in the transport sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Related: China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal Coal is already in decline as Europe continues making massive investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Last year, European coal emissions fell by an impressive 11 percent , according to an analysis published by the European Commission. The decrease of coal emissions is part of a long-term trend — since 2010, European coal’s generation emissions fell by 16 percent and overall power sector emissions fell by 19 percent. Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump has pledged to revive coal. However, US utilities, similar to their European counterparts, are moving away from coal in favor of natural gas and renewables. News agency Reuters contacted 32 utilities and the vast majority said that Trump’s actions would not impact their investments away from coal. “I’m not going to build new coal plants in today’s environment,” Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy, told Reuters. “And if I’m not going to build new ones, eventually there won’t be any.” Via The Guardian Images via Flickr 1 , 2

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European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

Trump properties rank among worst polluters in NYC

April 3, 2017 by  
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Nobody expected President Donald Trump , a man who once declared climate change a “hoax” by the Chinese government, to be a champion of the environment. Indeed, with proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a plan to reverse his predecessor’s pro-planet policies, the opposite  has been true. So it should come as a surprise to no one that properties owned by Trump, as well as his consigliere son-in-law Jared Kusher , rate among the least energy-efficient in New York City, according to a new report by ALIGN , a coalition of labor and community organizations with an environmental bent. Trump International Hotel on Columbus Circle and Trump SoHo, the analysis found, use more energy than 70 to 79 percent of large hotels in the city, respectively. Even more egregious, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue uses more energy than 93 percent of the city’s largest residential complexes. The Mayfair, a hotel-to-condo conversion owned by the Trumps, uses more energy than 98 percent of comparable multifamily buildings. The Kushner family–owned tower at 666 Fifth Avenue , living up to its numerically ominous address, uses more energy than 85 percent of large office buildings, the study noted. Related: Jared Kushner’s 666 tower by Zaha Hadid gets reimagined as the Eye of Sauron “Those folks are the biggest polluters of our city—we need to take them on and actually make sure that they reduce their emissions,” Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of ALIGN, told the Daily News . The bulk of the city’s carbon footprint stems from heating, cooling, and powering its soaring skyscrapers. While New York City has voluntary programs designed to reduce its emissions, Silva-Farrell thinks it’s time to administer mandatory rules. “We think that it is really important to require these kinds of owners to reduce their emissions and create clean air for our communities,” she said. “We believe that’s the only way they will do it.” Via the Daily News Photos by jcwillia1 and Michael Vadon

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Trump properties rank among worst polluters in NYC

House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again

February 6, 2017 by  
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Congressional Republicans are attempting to quickly dismantle former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations to combat climate change . On Friday, the GOP-controlled House voted 221-191 to overturn an Interior Department rule that aims to limit “fugitive” methane emissions from oil and gas drilling operations on public lands. The natural gas is wasted through leaks, intentional venting, or burning off the gas — a process known as flaring. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global warming potential of methane (CH4) is 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year time scale and 86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years when climate carbon feedbacks are included. Three Democrats — Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Collin Peterson (MN-7) — voted in favor of repealing the rule, while 11 Republicans opposed repeal. According to Open Secrets , a guide to money in politics from the Center for Responsive Politics, Costa received $94,525 from the oil and gas industry during the 2015-2016 campaign cycle, Cuellar received $165,305 in campaign funds from the oil and gas industry, and Peterson received $38,075 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Related: Aliso Canyon natural gas facility could reopen despite unresolved issues over leak “The rollback gives companies permission to waste $330 million dollars of public assets a year, and generate huge amounts of avoidable pollution that contaminates our air and has a devastating effect on public health,” said Elizabeth Thompson, president of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, in a statement . “We call on the U.S. Senate to protect the interests of the American people, and not cast a vote for business as usual for the oil and gas industry.” The legislation next goes to the Republican-majority Senate for a vote. In addition to allowing unchecked gas flaring again, House Republicans last week voted to repeal an Obama era rule designed to keep coal waste from contaminating streams and waterways. According to the Interior Department, the regulation protects 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waters. Via The Washington Post Images via Flickr 1 , 2 Save

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House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again

EPA: Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat on vehicle emissions

January 12, 2017 by  
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Today, the EPA accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating emissions standards in over 100,000 of their vehicles, echoing the scandal that has been rocking Volkswagen . According to the EPA, the company installed software on SUVs and trucks made in 2014, 2015 and 2016 that allowed them to evade standards, allowing poisonous nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. While the current administration has shown it is willing to pursue Clean Air Act violators, the incoming administration could choose not to continue the investigation. The Italian automaker is accused of installing 8 different programs aimed at giving a false emissions picture. If those programs qualify as “defeat devices,” Fiat Chrysler could face a fine of up to $44,539 per vehicle if found guilty of violations of the Clean Air Act. Related: Volkswagen to pay $4.3 billion to US following emissions scandal Fiat Chrysler stated that it had offered to develop software fixes to help ease the problem and that they intend to plead their case to the incoming Trump administration . The company did not disclose the issue, rather, the EPA discovered during testing that the vehicles appeared to be within standards at a moderate speed, but at higher speeds or on longer trips, the emissions violated air quality standards. “FCA US is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation with respect to the emissions control technology employed in the company’s 2014-16 model year light duty 3.0-liter diesel engines. FCA US intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA US customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement. via USA Today images via Petr Magera

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EPA: Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat on vehicle emissions

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