New Zealand bans new offshore oil and gas exploration permits

April 12, 2018 by  
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New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, set a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 — and she’s taking action now. This week, she said the country will no longer grant new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, Reuters reported . Ardern said in a live Facebook video , “The whole world is going in this direction. We all signed up to the Paris Agreement that said we were moving towards carbon neutrality and now we need to act on it.” Ardern surprised the oil and gas industry with her announcement, which won’t impact the 22 existing exploration permits, Reuters said. She said in the Facebook video in making this decision, she considered ensuring security of supply; job security, especially for places where jobs center around the fossil fuel industry; and meeting their obligations and ambitions around tackling climate change . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); A few details on the big oil and gas announcement we made today A few details on the big oil and gas announcement we made today… Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 Related: New Zealand plans to power its grid with 100% renewable energy by 2035 Not everyone is happy about Ardern’s decision. Neil Holdom, mayor of New Plymouth in the Taranaki region, which Reuters said is energy -rich, described the move as “a kick in the guts.” Taranaki Daily News quoted Energy and Resources spokesperson for the opposition party Jonathan Young as saying, “What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables . It will be coal — good one government.” Ardern said permits can last for years, and “that’s why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future.” She said the country will “continue onshore block offers” for three years and then review again. Environmental organization praised the move. Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman told The Guardian , “Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation…Bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time has never been more urgent and Ardern has stepped up to that climate challenge.” + Jacinda Ardern on Facebook Via Reuters , Taranaki Daily News , and The Guardian Images via Thomas Hetzler on Unsplash and Depositphotos

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New Zealand bans new offshore oil and gas exploration permits

This NYC skyscraper will clean the air "at a rate of 500 trees"

April 12, 2018 by  
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This new  condominium building in New York City will actually clean the air . 570 Broome , designed by Tahir Demircioglu of Builtd , will be wrapped with a new facade material that utilizes sunshine to turn contaminating agents into salt and water vapor. The self-cleaning exterior will have an equivalent impact to removing 2,000 cars from roads for a year, or that of 500 trees . The luxury condominium, located in the West Soho neighborhood, boasts more than just floor-to-ceiling windows and 10-foot-nine-inch-tall ceilings. The exterior of the 25-story building cleans itself and the air around it. The facade material was developed in collaboration between sintered stone company Neolith and manufacturer PURETi . Related: This new Berlin apartment building literally purifies the city’s air According to Neolith’s website , the exterior material consists of Neolith plates sprayed with PURETi’s “aqueous and titanium dioxide nanoparticle-based treatment.” Sunlight activates the titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which “transform the moisture in the air into oxidizing agents which destroy the nitrogen dioxide particles and contaminating agents and transform them into water vapor and salt.” The process is called photocatalysis, and it’s “repeated millions of times per second,” enabling the building to clean itself. The technology improves air quality and is anti-bacterial, anti-allergen and anti-odor. Neolith and PURETi’s technology “receives LEED points when specified,” according to Neolith. The building’s design hearkens back to the history of the area, once called the Printing District, with “a silhouette evocative of staggered cubes,” according to Builtd . Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designed the interiors. Indoor bicycle storage, an entry garden featuring a Japanese maple tree, a lounge opening onto a landscaped terrace and double-pane windows treated with a low-emissivity glaze are among the building’s other features. Sales for 570 Broome, which includes 54 units of one- to three-bedroom condos, began last fall. + 570 Broome + Builtd + Neolith + PURETi + Neolith + PURETI Images courtesy of 570 Broome

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This NYC skyscraper will clean the air "at a rate of 500 trees"

The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

March 22, 2018 by  
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More than six months since  Hurricane Harvey decimated much of Central America and the American Gulf Coast, the public still doesn’t have the answers it needs regarding the full public health impact of the powerful storm. This is of particular concern for Texas, in which the nation’s most substantial energy corridor is based. 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of oil, gas and chemical pipelines are located in the impact area of Hurricane Harvey. And investigations by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle have found that the toxic impact of the storm is far worse than authorities reported. The investigators documented more than 100 specific instances of toxic chemical release into the water, the air, or land as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater flooded out of one chemical plant outside of Houston alone, mixing with storm water and surging across the sprawling urban environment. Hazardous chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other carcinogens were released into the flood waters during the storm. In the case of two major contamination events, officials publicized the potential toxic impact as less extensive than it actually was. Related: Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey While Texas regulators claim to have investigated at least 89 instances, they have not said whether they will take any enforcement action. Alarmingly, state and federal regulators only tested water and soil for contaminants in areas near Superfund toxic waste sites, ignoring the potential runoff of toxic chemicals during the unprecedented flooding of Houston and surrounding areas. During and after the storm, authorities only notified the public of dangers posed by two events: the explosions and burning at the Arkema chemical plant and an uncapped Superfund site by the San Jacinto River. “The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey,” Harris County supervising attorney Rock Owens told the Associated Press, “but the individual companies of course know.” Via NBC San Diego Images via Texas National Guard and  Depositphotos

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Arnold Schwarzenegger to sue Big Oil for "killing people all over the world"

March 12, 2018 by  
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Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will soon file a lawsuit against major oil companies for their decades-long contributions to climate change and environmental degradation. Schwarzenegger, who specifically called out Big Oil for “knowingly killing people all over the world,” is working with several private law firms and developing a public plan for his lawsuit. Announced at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, the news comes as Schwarzenegger prepares to host a major environmental conference in Vienna , Austria, his native land. Schwarzenegger hopes to repeat the success of a similar legal crusade against the tobacco industry. “This is no different from the smoking issue,” he said. “The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that. The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels , and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.” Related: Schwarzenegger-backed startup takes on Tesla with new battery tech Schwarzenegger believes that the oil companies have a duty to the public to inform them of the risks of consumption. “It’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.” Regardless of the lawsuit’s ultimate success, Schwarzenegger hopes to at least shine a light on the issue, using harsh words to describe the allegedly guilty party. “I don’t think there’s any difference,” he said. “If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies”. Via Politico Images via Depositphotos (1)

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The future of energy on islands

March 2, 2018 by  
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Islands are places of exceptional biodiversity and economic value, not to mention their great natural beauty. However, because of their isolation from the mainland, they are also difficult to power. This fact is particularly poignant as Puerto Rico , several months after Hurricane Maria, struggles to turn the lights back on. To prepare for a world in which climate change continues to energize super-storms and sea level rise, islands, on which 10 percent of the world’s population lives, must rethink their energy systems for future success. Read on for several solutions that will allow island communities to thrive in the 21st century. Islands currently receive most of their energy from fossil fuels , with some using imported oil, an expensive energy source, to power their electrical grid. With their costs dropping every year, solar and wind could provide cleaner, localized, cheaper energy. Since islands must contend with a limited amount of land, large-scale wind farms may be the preferred utility-scale option. However, neither option will be particularly effective without a battery storage system. To serve this need, Tesla is rolling out battery systems in Puerto Rico , Nantucket and other island communities in hopes that they may someday become ubiquitous. Related: The sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing For islands with the appropriate natural resources, such as Iceland , geothermal power is an attractive energy option. New drilling technologies, such as those developed by  GA Drilling  and  AltaRock Energy , could enable geothermal prospectors to dig deeper and ultimately provide greater energy output. While it has drawn criticism from some environmentalists in the past, nuclear power may also be an effective energy source for island communities. The incredible energy density of nuclear fuel translates into a much more effectively shipped power source than fossil fuels, while the newest Gen IV nuclear reactors are passively safe . Nuclear power plants could even be established on ships, similar to nuclear-powered ships and submarines in the United States Navy, allowing power generation to be moved where it is most needed. Via World Economic Forum Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Over 100 cities around the globe run mostly on renewable energy

February 27, 2018 by  
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A new report shows that over 100 cities around the world are running on predominantly clean energy . That figure is up from just 40 in 2015, and it shows that more and more cities – from Seattle, Washington to Inje, South Korea – are ditching fossil fuels and turning to renewables than ever before. According to a report from CDP , more than 100 cities across the globe get 70% or more of their energy from wind, solar, hydro and biomass. Some cities are even getting 100% of their energy from renewable sources, like Burlington, Vermont, which became the first US city to move completely to renewables. 58 other cities in the US have joined the growing #WeAreStillIn movement and pledged to transition completely to renewables. Related: Burlington, Vermont Now Runs on 100% Renewable Energy At the same time, electricity demand is decreasing. Thanks to a shift in heavy industry moving outside of the US, more efficient lights and appliances , and more on-site power, people in the US are using less electricity. As a result, for the first time in a century, electricity demand is stagnant – and utilities are beginning to panic. Via Vox and Earther Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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MIT’s thermal resonator generates power "out of what seems like nothing"

February 27, 2018 by  
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A brand new power-generating system from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers creates energy “out of what seems like nothing,” according to chemical engineering professor Michael Strano in a statement . Their system, which they’re calling a thermal resonator, harnesses daily swings in ambient temperature , potentially enabling remote sensing systems to operate for years — no batteries or other power sources required. Nine MIT scientists from the chemical engineering department envisioned a new way to transform temperature changes into electric power. Their system doesn’t need two different temperature inputs simultaneously; it simply draws on fluctuations in the temperature of the air. Strano said, “We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. We’ve built the first thermal resonator. It’s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT said the power levels the thermal resonator can generate are modest at this point, but the system’s advantage is that it isn’t affected at all by short-term changes in environmental conditions, and doesn’t require direct sunlight. It could generate energy in oft-unused spaces like underneath solar panels . The researchers say their thermal resonator could even help solar panels be more efficient as it could draw away waste heat . The thermal resonator was tested in ambient air, but MIT said if the researchers tuned the properties of the material used, the system could harvest other temperature cycles, such as those of machinery in industrial facilities or even the on and off cycling of refrigerator motors. The scientists created what MIT described as a “carefully tailored combination of materials” for their work, including metal foam, graphene , and the phase-change material octadecane. MIT said, “A sample of the material made to test the concept showed that, simply in response to a 10-degree-Celsius temperature difference between night and day, the tiny sample of material produced 350 millivolts of potential and 1.2 milliwatts of power — enough to power simple, small environmental sensors or communications systems.” The journal Nature Communications published the work online in February. + MIT News + Nature Communications Images via Melanie Gonick and Justin Raymond

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BP’s chief economist predicts plastic bans will slash oil demand

February 21, 2018 by  
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Oil giant BP has predicted that increased regulation on plastic pollution around the world will result in decreased demand for petroleum, the key ingredient in most plastic. “We think we’re going to see increasing regulation against some types of petrochemical products, particularly single-use plastics,” BP’s Chief Economist Spencer Dale told Bloomberg . “As a result of that, we have less growth in non-combusted oils than we otherwise would have done.” While petrochemicals are predicted to continue as the largest driver of oil consumption, BP also predicts that oil demand will drop by two million barrels a day as a result of developing plastic regulations. BP also predicts that oil production will continue to rise over the next two decades, apparently peaking in the mid-2030s. Notably, this forecast expects an oil peak nearly a decade earlier than BP’s prediction last year. Despite its estimation that one third of total miles driven will be powered by electricity by 2040, BP does not expect the electric vehicle market to impact oil dramatically. “Selling more EVs will tend to have almost no effect on oil demand because now I can sell a greater number of large cars or I can do less investment in light weighting,” said Dale. This assumes that large, heavy, fossil-fuel-powered cars continue to be profitable. Related: Beer with biodegradable six-pack rings finally hits the market BP also revised its expectations from previous years regarding the growth of renewable energy , with the company now estimating that renewable energy will constitute 40 percent of all energy growth in the near future. “We cannot predict where these changes will take us, but we can use this knowledge to get fit and ready to play our role in meeting the energy needs of tomorrow,” said BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley in a statement. To prepare for a cleaner energy future, BP has purchased a $200 million stake in British solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd. and is reportedly considering purchasing Terra Firma’s Rete Rinnovabile Srl, a solar company based in Italy. Via Bloomberg and Treehugger Images via Depositphotos (1)

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This kinetic installation uses sound to visualize the worlds CO2 emissions

February 7, 2018 by  
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The CarbonScape installation by Chinese artist Chris Cheung (aka h0nh1m) , mimics the sounds of jet engines, ship horns, steam, chimneys, and other carbon emitters, blending them together into an immersive soundscape .  The sounds are visualized by a bamboo forest-like field of tubes and black ‘carbon’ balls. The result is a piece of art that speaks to the effects of fossil fuel use and industrialization on our planet. The kinetic soundscape installation consists of 18 tracks of synthesized sound samples. The artist collected these noises from the sound sources where a  carbon footprint is left, for example, the sound from the jet engine, steam from a factory or the horn of the ship. These tracks are blended into a unified soundscape. As the sounds are emitted, black balls rise and fall to represent the carbon in a particular part of the planet. Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. CarbonScape uses data acquired from the NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ) to help bring the visualization to life. According to their findings, in 2017 the concentration of CO2 soared to its highest of the past three million years. The data show that this increase can be largely attributed to industrialization and the use of fossil fuels . + h0nh1m ? CarbonScape (PV) from h0nh1m on Vimeo .

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Abundant solar threatens fossil fuel companies in Texas to the tune of $1.4 billion

January 19, 2018 by  
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In Texas, demand for power peaks in the summer, which also happens to be when solar power is at its most productive. With the state slated to add up to 15 gigawatts of solar in the next few years, it spells big trouble for companies peddling fossil fuels – a $1.4 billion problem. Hear that tapping sound? It’s another nail being hammered in the coffin for fossil fuels . The state’s solar boom could wipe out $2.76 per megawatt hour (wholesale) during the summer from fossil fuels, according to Bloomberg . Since gas and coal power generators rely on high summer prices to counteract the winter dip in demand, solar’s proliferation is a double-whammy threat to the industry. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Texas isn’t the only state to face this “problem.” California’s fossil fuel prices regularly dip into the negative during summer hours. The good news for fossil fuels is that this shift won’t happen right away. Texas will likely only have 1.8 gigawatts of solar power within the next two years. Via Bloomberg Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Abundant solar threatens fossil fuel companies in Texas to the tune of $1.4 billion

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