How to influence government and avoid the ‘tragedy of the commons’

September 26, 2017 by  
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The world and everyone on it are headed towards a “flash point,” said Luis Salaveria, director of Hawaii’s department of business, economic development and tourism, at VERGE Hawaii 2017. That includes communities, businesses and governments that have both benefited from modern advancements in agriculture, medicine and science and contributed to the environmental crises facing the planet. 

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How to influence government and avoid the ‘tragedy of the commons’

Startup is developing kelp farms in the open ocean to make carbon-neutral biofuel

September 1, 2017 by  
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Could a robotic kelp farm offer an alternative fuel for cars or jets? The founders behind Marine BioEnergy hope so. The startup will soon begin testing a prototype of their kelp elevator, a farm that can move up and down in the water with the help of drones to optimize access to sunlight and nutrients, near Catalina Island in California . They think biofuel made from the kelp could be cost-competitive with fossil fuels . Marine BioEnergy’s new kelp elevator grows seaweed on a long tube, and if tests go well, they hope to start farming in the open ocean between Hawaii and California. They’re working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory , which has developed a way to transform kelp into biocrude. The kelp fuel should be carbon neutral since kelp absorbs around the same amount of carbon dioxide as would be emitted when the fuel is burned. Related: Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel In 2015, the United States Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) gave a grant to Marine BioEnergy, which was started by wife and husband team Cindy and and Brian Wilcox, who works a day job in space robotics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Marine BioEnergy has also been working with the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on a proof-of-concept study. Kelp could provide a better biofuel: it has little cellulose or lignin, fibers that are hard to process. Grown in the ocean, kelp also wouldn’t require pesticides or irrigation as plants on land might. In optimal conditions, it can grow over a foot a day. And the kelp elevator could help the seaweed reach those conditions, even in the open ocean. Kelp grows best in shallow coastal waters, where it can anchor to the ocean floor and receive sunlight. But to scale up kelp production, Marine BioEnergy would need the space of the open ocean. Their robotic elevator could help kelp receive the sunlight, from near the ocean’s surface, and nutrients, from deeper waters, to thrive. Drones could also keep the kelp elevator avoid storms and stay out of the way of ships, and when the seaweed is ready, tow it to a ship. The team is trying to determine whether it might be more economical to make the biocrude right on the ship since a processing center could fit on a container ship powered by the fuel. + Marine BioEnergy Via Fast Company Images via USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies Facebook

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Startup is developing kelp farms in the open ocean to make carbon-neutral biofuel

Florence is the largest asteroid to pass Earth in a century

September 1, 2017 by  
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Though the American eclipse may have come and gone, the skies above Earth never cease to amaze with new interstellar events. Early this morning, according to NASA, Florence became the largest asteroid to approach our planet in over a century. The asteroid measures 2.7 miles (4.4 km) in diameter and passed by from the relative proximity of 4.4 million miles (7 million km) away from Earth, roughly 18 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. Although other asteroids have traveled closer to Earth in the past, none were as massive as Florence, the largest near-Earth asteroid ever tracked by NASA. Florence, like all asteroids in our solar system , formed out of the debris left behind after the formation of the planets and the sun . It was originally discovered by Schelte “Bobby” Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in 1981 and named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing and pioneering statistician and social reformer. Florence’s trip near Earth, its closest since 1890, provided scientists with a unique opportunity to study the ancient asteroid. Related: Astrophysicist warns asteroid strike is not a matter of if, but when NASA researchers used deep space radar to study the size, shape, rotation, surface features, and determine the precise path of the asteroid. Amateur astronomers also observed the asteroid, which was relatively easy to spot since it reflects 20 percent of sunlight that reaches its surface, in contrast to only 12 percent reflection from the Moon . Scientists project that Florence will not come this close to Earth again until 2500. Via BBC Images via NASA (1) , (2)

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Florence is the largest asteroid to pass Earth in a century

Why energy justice matters

August 8, 2017 by  
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Hawaii’s Iolani Palace was one of the first in the world to have been lit by electric power. Now that Hawaii is transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, the state must get to its goal in an equitable and sustainable way that creates pathways for prosperity. “Innovation is in the fabric of this place,” said Shalanda Baker, associate professor of Environmental Law at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. 

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Why energy justice matters

VERGE Accelerate names 14 pitch-perfect startups

August 8, 2017 by  
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Introducing the accelerator finalists who will pitch to a live audience of potential partners at VERGE 17 in Santa Clara, Calif. in September.

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VERGE Accelerate names 14 pitch-perfect startups

Costa Rica aims to become the first country to ban all single-use plastics

August 7, 2017 by  
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Costa Rica is taking a stand against the plastic waste flooding our oceans and clogging up our landfills: the country is poised to become the first in the world to eliminate all single-use plastics . This isn’t just a ban on plastic bags or water bottles. Using a multi-prong approach, Costa Rica will eliminate plastic forks, lids and even coffee stirrers. And as if that wasn’t a lofty enough goal, they plan to do this by 2021. Plastic is one of the most dramatic problems that the environment is facing. There is so much plastic trash in the ocean that it is difficult to even comprehend, and we are constantly discovering more . By 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. In Costa Rica, 4,000 tons of solid waste is produced every day, and 20 percent of that never makes it to a recycle center or landfill, ending up in the Costa Rican rivers, beaches and forests. Related: Costa Rica ran almost entirely on renewables in 2016 Costa Rica has taken environmental protection seriously. The country plans to be carbon neutral by 2021, in part by ditching fossil fuels . They are also dedicated to restoring their forests and protecting wildlife .  In order to move away from single-use plastic, the country will utilize both public and private sectors to accomplish five actions. The country will offer incentives and issue requirements for suppliers, in addition to investing in research and development and other initiatives that will move it closer to its goals. It will also replace single-use products with innovations like cellulose acetate-based materials. Via Costa Rica News Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Costa Rica aims to become the first country to ban all single-use plastics

Evovelo unveils cute little solar car you can pedal like a bicycle

July 28, 2017 by  
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Today Evovelo unveiled a tiny solar-powered vehicle that combines the advantages of a car — such as safety, weather protection and stability — with the ease of a bicycle and the low energy consumption and space utilization of a light electric vehicle. The cute little trike is called Mö, and its practicality, customization, and sustainability make it a great fit for commuters looking to lower their environmental impact. Mö is perfect for short commutes, as it is made from sustainable materials and it has an all-electric range of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles). The vehicle has a top speed of 45 Km/h (about 30 mph), and a set of roof-mounted solar panels rapidly recharge the vehicle’s 1000Wh battery. A single hour in the sun will yield 5-10 kilometers of range, and the vehicle will fully recharge in 3-4 hours. The tricycle can also be propelled by pedal power to further extend its range, and a regenerative braking system stores energy as the vehicle slows down. Its dimensions of 140 cm wide, 200 cm long and 130 cm high means Mö doesn’t take up much space; however, it is large enough to seat two adults up front and two children in the back with optional kids seats. Because Mö has a full lighting system, turn blinkers, safety belts, a front crash crumple zone, side impact protection, and other safety features, one can feel comfortable commuting in the environmentally-friendly vehicle. The vehicle’s battery can be removed and charged at home, in the office, or in a garage – wherever one has access to an electrical outlet. Evovelo’s new prototype officially debuted today in Malaga, Spain, and more information — including its cost — will be released in the near future. + Evovelo

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Evovelo unveils cute little solar car you can pedal like a bicycle

Safety concerns overshadow energy-slashing potential of smart homes

May 31, 2017 by  
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Until technology companies address hacking incidents and other security issues, it does little good to talk up the environmental benefits.

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Safety concerns overshadow energy-slashing potential of smart homes

How the blockchain could fight grid cyber-threats

May 31, 2017 by  
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The electricity system is about to experience a several-orders-of-magnitude increase in the number of vulnerabilities to cyber-threats.

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From Uber to Ford; Detroit and Honolulu see green

May 30, 2017 by  
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This month’s Names in the News roundup of green business career moves spans the world of transportation, cities and apparel.

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From Uber to Ford; Detroit and Honolulu see green

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