Amidst a rising sea-level crisis, staying resilient in New Orleans

September 18, 2018 by  
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Five lessons from the Big Easy.

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Amidst a rising sea-level crisis, staying resilient in New Orleans

Sunsetting solar panels: U.S. photovoltaic cell recycling incentives are beginning

September 18, 2018 by  
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State governments are stepping in to create an infrastructure to recover the useful materials from the panels.

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Sunsetting solar panels: U.S. photovoltaic cell recycling incentives are beginning

France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

September 17, 2018 by  
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France plans to launch a major endeavor to triple the amount of cyclists on its streets within the next seven years. The action will include building better bike lanes, providing financial incentives for commuters to switch to bicycle transportation and cracking down on bike theft. The plan was announced by the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a speech in Nantes, where he revealed that cycling accounts for only 3 percent of transportation in the country. Despite hosting the acclaimed Tour de France competition, France has fallen far behind other EU nations in bicycle transportation. In the Netherlands, cycling accounts for almost a third of all transportation, backed by a strong cycling culture as well as organized routes and laws that make Dutch riders feel safe on the roads. “Fifty million euros per year will not turn France into the Netherlands, but it is a start,” said Olivier Schneider, head of the French Bike Users Federation (FUB). Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly France’s total fund for cycling infrastructure over the next seven years amounts to 350 million euros ($410 million). “We plan to triple the share of cycling to 9 percent by 2024, when we host the Olympics,” Philippe said. “The discontinuity on the bike lane maps creates insecurity and discourages people from cycling.” Currently, bike lanes in French cities only run short distances and are not safely connected to one another at major intersections or heavy traffic zones. In addition to addressing these incomplete routes, the government will restructure one-way streets to include two-way bike routes, saving commuters inconvenience and time. Converters to cycling will be rewarded yearly with 200 euro ($233) tax-free stipends from the French government, and many private companies are looking to double that amount, providing their own 400 ($467) euro tax-free rewards each year for commuters. Companies are also being mandated by the government to allocate proper bicycle parking facilities for their employees, a feature that train hubs around the country will also boast. To deter bike thieves from suspending the country’s progress, new bikes will be subject to a mandatory identification engraving system, which will make it easier for burglars to be apprehended and fined. The French government will also introduce cycling lessons in all secondary schools by 2022 to ensure that future generations embrace the cycling culture and respect for a clean environment. Via Reuters Image via Veroyama

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France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

If charging scooters to use city streets makes sense, let’s charge cars proportionately

August 21, 2018 by  
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Can we make the “user pays” mythology sustainable?

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If charging scooters to use city streets makes sense, let’s charge cars proportionately

Charging up: Concerns about EV’s quick growth abound

May 15, 2018 by  
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As electric vehicles grow in use and popularity, the infrastructure to support them is still up in the air.

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Charging up: Concerns about EV’s quick growth abound

Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

May 11, 2018 by  
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Another day, another genius marketing idea from Elon Musk . In an Instagram post , Musk announced that he plans to offer free rides in The Boring Company’s first tunnel — which he described as “almost done.” Musk went on to say: “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 10, 2018 at 6:49pm PDT The Boring Company will offer rides in the tunnel under the Los Angeles , California area “pending final regulatory approvals” in a few months. Elon Musk thanked people who have been involved in the project, and said “Strong support from public, elected officials and regulators is critical to success.” As he often does, Musk answered a few questions about the project on Twitter. He said the company has already started working on a route between New York and Washington, D.C., and that they hope to start work on a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019. Musk explained that one would be a true Hyperloop with “pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels,” and that passengers on that route would be able to travel faster than if they were on a jetliner. Related: Boring Company confirms plans to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing bricks When one Twitter user requested a stop near Vandenburg, an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County from which SpaceX launches rockets, Musk responded , “A cool thing about the design is that’s easy to incorporate branch loops to serve small to mid-size cities without slowing down the main loop at all.” The Boring Company’s frequently asked questions page says the initial test tunnel is in Hawthorne, California. According to the Los Angeles Times , in April the City Council’s public works committee unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a 2.7-mile tunnel. The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

What will happen to solar panels after their useful lives are over?

May 11, 2018 by  
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It’s a good sign that solar energy use is growing, but the infrastructure to sunset these cells barely exists.

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What will happen to solar panels after their useful lives are over?

New research links LED streetlights to increased risk of cancer

April 26, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Exeter and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have concluded that there is a “strong link” between exposure to LED lighting and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer . The “blue light” emitted by LED lights seems to affect circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns, which then impacts hormone levels. “Humans have evolved to need light during the day and darkness at night,” researcher Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel told The Telegraph . “As towns and cities replace older lighting, we’re all exposed to higher levels of ‘blue’ lights, which can disrupt our biological clocks.” Previous research has documented the carcinogenic risk of night-shift work and artificial light . “We know that depending on its intensity and wave length, artificial light, particularly in the blue spectrum, can decrease melatonin production and secretion,” study co-author Martin Aubé explained to EurekAlert . In addition to regulating sleep cycles, melatonin functions as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Blue light, which is also emitted from tablet, phone , computer, and TV screens, is one of the shortest-wavelength, highest-energy forms of light. Related: A glowing glass “lantern” turns this energy-efficient office into a beacon This research comes as many cities are making the switch to LED streetlights, which are more energy-efficient and cheaper than traditional lighting. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives , the study included more than 4,000 people in 11 distinct regions of Spain in its analysis. It also incorporated images taken aboard the International Space Station to gain a fuller sense of blue light’s impact on a global scale. Public Health England has recommended further study of the impact of LED lighting before it is more widely adopted, while the American Medical Association has recommended that municipalities and businesses install the lowest-intensity LED lighting, with shading to provide additional protection. + Environmental Health Perspectives Via The Telegraph Images via Depositphotos (1)

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New research links LED streetlights to increased risk of cancer

World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden

April 12, 2018 by  
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The first electrified road capable of charging EVs as they drive across it is now open outside of Stockholm , Sweden. While the road — which links Stockholm Arlanda airport to a nearby logistics site — is only two kilometers long, it is a significant step forward in Sweden’s strategic plan for energy and climate change . The country aims to become independent of fossil fuels by 2030 – a task that will require a 70 percent reduction in emissions from the transportation sector. Once expanded, the electric roadways and highways in Sweden will make it convenient to charge electric vehicles and ease the country’s transition from traditional combustion engine vehicles. The system works by transferring electricity from the installed underground rail to the vehicle above through a flexible arm that attaches to the charging vehicle . “There is no electricity on the surface,” Hans Säll, chief executive of  eRoadArlanda , explained to the Guardian . “There are two tracks, just like an outlet in the wall. Five or six centimeters down is where the electricity is. But if you flood the road with salt water , then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot.” Related: Siemens debuts first electrified eHighway in the US It currently costs 1 million euros to construct one kilometer of electrified road, but this is still 50 times less than the cost of installing an equivalent distance of an overhead tram line. At the moment, Sweden maintains about half a million kilometers of roadways, of which 20,000 are highways. “If we electrify 20,000 kilometers of highways that will definitely be enough,” Säll said. “The distance between two highways is never more than 45 kilometers, and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000 kilometers.” Sweden and Germany are in discussion to eventually construct a network of electrified roads to encourage a Europe-wide adoption of electric vehicles. Via The Guardian Images via  Erik Mårtensson/eRoadArlanda

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World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden

The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news

April 12, 2018 by  
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The Gulf Stream current, which serves as an important regulator of weather and climate along the Atlantic Ocean, is now the weakest it has been in at least 1,600 years. This dramatic slowing of the current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), could usher in extreme shifts in weather patterns, such as more brutal European winters, rapid sea level rise on the American East Coast , and the disruption of essential tropical rainstorms. Suddenly, the 2004 climate-change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which depicted the dramatized consequences of a Gulf Stream slowdown, seems less science fiction, more predictive of a future plagued by catastrophic climate change. Although scientists have been aware of Amoc’s slowdown since 2004, two recent studies paint a more complete picture of just how dramatic this weakening has been. “The [current] climate models don’t predict [an Amoc shutdown] is going to happen in the future,” Dr. David Thornalley, leader of one of these recent studies published in the journal Nature , told the Guardian . “The problem is how certain are we it is not going to happen? It is one of these tipping points that is relatively low probability, but high impact.” Thornalley’s team gathered and analyzed sediments from North Carolina ‘s Cape Hatteras, as well as shells of marine animals at various Atlantic sites, to determine the full impact of the current slowdown. The study concludes that climate change has played at least a significant role in the weakened Amoc. Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate Also published in Nature , the second study used thermometer data from the past 120 years to reach a similar conclusion: Amoc is about 15 percent weaker than it was in 400 AD. While the second study places much of the blame on climate change , the first study also cites natural climate variability as a contributing factor to Amoc’s slowdown. Regardless of its causes, the weakening is recognized in both studies as a potentially destabilizing phenomenon. “If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” second study co-author Alexander Robinson told the Guardian . “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

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