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

A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean

August 2, 2017 by  
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A few months ago, scientists found a new garbage patch in the Arctic ocean . And now, another pocket of plastics, human trash, and chemical waste has been discovered in a newly-explored region of the Pacific Ocean. Like it’s cousin the “ Great Pacific Garbage Patch ,” it’s an environmental burden that shows just how irresponsible humans have become in recent years. The new patch is located between Hawaii and the mainland US, and it was discovered by the Algalita Research Foundation . Charles Moore led the six-month volunteer voyage. Though researchers are still determining the garbage patch’s size, it is estimated to be as big as a million square kilometers (386,100 square miles) — four times the size of the United Kingdom or 1.5 times the size of Texas ! Moore told ResearchGate : “We discovered tremendous quantities of plastic. My initial impression is that our samples compared to what we were seeing in the North Pacific in 2007, so it’s about ten years behind.” Though the vortex of trash is gargantuan, pictures of the patch are somewhat misleading in terms of the size of debris. Initial analyses reveal that the majority of the plastics are the size of a grain of rice. Of course, there are larger pieces of garbage, such as bottles and fishing nets. So far, it looks as if most of the waste was disposed of by commercial enterprises, such as the fishing industry. This means general consumers are less to blame. “We found a few larger items, occasionally a buoy and some fishing gear, but most of it was broken into bits,” said Moore. Small or large in size, plastic debris still poses a serious threat to marine wildlife and terrestrial ecosystems. It’s estimated that by 2050, 99 percent of birds will have plastic in their guts due to the extraordinary amount of goods disposed of by humans. Though you may think you have nothing to do with the problem, that is unlikely – 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from land . Over time, plastic debris breaks up into micro-particles that don’t easily biodegrade and are ingested by wildlife. If animals — such as turtles and fish — don’t die from swallowing the trash, their bodies are likely to become more toxic due to the PCBs and other chemicals found in plastics. This, in turn, makes them unsuitable for consumption by humans and other creatures. Related: Shocking study reveals 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic As IFLScience reports, garbage patches in the ocean result from giant systems of circulating currents (gyres) sweeping debris up from ports, harbors, rivers, docks, and ships. The trash then becomes trapped and oftentimes accumulates for years before it is spotted. Though this new vortex of trash is bad news, it doesn’t mean hope is lost. Humans still have time to adopt sustainable habits and prevent climate change from worsening. As innovations are developed to clean up the oceans, individuals and families can reduce their burden on the environment by eating more unpackaged whole, unprocessed foods, bringing recyclable bags to the grocery store and boycotting plastic whenever possible. Via Research Gate Images via Pinterest , Charles Moore, YouTube

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A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean

Honolulu is the first US city to ban using your phone while crossing the street

July 31, 2017 by  
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Most people think they can walk and text, but statistics prove otherwise. Between 2015 and 2016, for instance, there was a 10 percent spike in pedestrian fatalities in the United States, likely due to the number of people walking while distracted by their phones. It’s because of this that Honolulu, Hawaii, recently passed legislation that targets  texters and other “smartphone zombies” as they step off the curb. On Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the “Distracted Walking Law” which is the first law of its type to be passed in the U.S. Reuters reports that it passed 7-2 earlier this month by the city council. Said Caldwell, “We hold the unfortunate distinction of being a major city with more pedestrians being hit in crosswalks, particularly our seniors, than almost any other city in the country .” The law will go into effect on October 25, at which time the Honolulu Police Department will begin handing out fines. First-time offenders will receive a $15-$35 fine, second time violates within the same year will be fined $35-$75, and those who are caught a third time will be charged $75-$99. People making calls for emergency services are exempt from the ban. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser , police will implement a three-month training and warning period until the law goes into effect. Related: This Clothing Staple Lets You Make Simple Gestures to Send a Text Maureen Vogel, a spokeswoman for the council, applauded the initiative. She said during a phone interview, “ Cell phones are not just pervading our roadways but pervading our sidewalks too.” Opponents, on the other hand, argue that it “infringes on personal freedom and amounts to government overreach.” Nonetheless, it is expected that the law will result in improved public safety — and that is applaudable. Via Reuters Images via Deposit Photos and  Pixabay

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Honolulu is the first US city to ban using your phone while crossing the street

How the U.S. Army approaches net zero energy

July 26, 2017 by  
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The U.S. Army needs to be at net zero, says Kristine Kingery, director of energy security and sustainability policy for the military. “How can we go with the ‘N’ state?” she asked in a conversation during VERGE Hawaii 17. “In the army, everything has to be tied back to readiness.” She discusses how operating on renewable energy is mission critical for the U.S. Army, why energy independence is critical for the nation’s security and how collaborations help get there.

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How the U.S. Army approaches net zero energy

Postcards from an energy-inclusive future

July 10, 2017 by  
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Getting to 100 percent renewable energy in Hawaii by 20245 means granting energy access to “everyone, everywhere,” said Holmes Hummel, director of Clean Energy Works and former senior policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Policy and International Affairs. “It gives me hope that 30 years after 2045, we may be able to celebrate an energy sector that is fossil-free worldwide,” she said. To do that, the International Energy Agency said that $1 trillion of energy investment capital must be deployed every year for over the next decade. 

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Postcards from an energy-inclusive future

Closing: embracing aloha as we paddle forward

July 7, 2017 by  
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One of Hawaii’s most gifted storytellers and business influencers puts a lei around the “Orchestra.”

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Closing: embracing aloha as we paddle forward

VERGE Talk: renewable energy, climate change, and the tragedy of the commons

July 7, 2017 by  
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Hawaii has the opportunity to serve as a model for the rest of the world, but how are we going to live on the planet going forward?  DBEDT Director Luis Salaveria takes a closer look at how solutions to our current sustainability problems may lie in the past.  Get ready for a reality check on Hawaii’s path to a 100% renewable energy future.

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VERGE Talk: renewable energy, climate change, and the tragedy of the commons

Organizer’s Welcome

July 6, 2017 by  
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Setting the stage for Hawaii’s second annual VERGE conference.

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Oli blessing and opening with Ramsay Taum

July 6, 2017 by  
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A traditional blessing used by Hawaiians throughout generations to preserve oral histories and traditions. Today, the oli is referred to as the soul of the aboriginal peoples of Hawaii and is recognized at the highest form of the Hawaiian language.

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Oli blessing and opening with Ramsay Taum

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