Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

February 4, 2019 by  
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Supersonic airplanes might be making a major comeback, but environmental scientists warn these time-saving transports will add even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than ever before. A group of regulators from around the world are scheduled to meet in Canada next week to discuss the impacts of supersonic travel on the environment. Ahead of the meeting, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published an article about how supersonic planes impact the environment . According to USA Today, the ICCT discovered that supersonic airplanes consume significantly more fuel than a standard commercial aircraft. In fact, these jets will use around five times the amount of fuel as a normal jet flying the same route. Supersonic jets consume more fuel because they are faster and carry fewer travelers. Companies in the aviation business previously agreed to cut down on carbon emissions by the year 2050, but with the threat of supersonic jets returning to the skies, ICCT director Dan Rutherford believes those goals will not be met in time. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline “Adding these planes, which could be five to seven times as carbon intensive as comparable subsonic jets, on top of that just to save a few hours flying over the Atlantic seems problematic to me,” Rutherford explained. The appeal of these jets is that they fly at a much faster rate than typical airliners and can cruise at higher altitudes. For example, a supersonic airplane could make it from New York to Paris in under four hours while a normal jet takes about eight hours to complete the same trip. This effectively cuts air travel time in half. There are three corporations from the United States that are seeking to build a new generation of supersonic airplanes for commercial use. This includes Boom Supersonic, which plans on building around 2,000 aircrafts, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace. The latter two companies are only planning on offering supersonic jets for business travel. This, of course, is not the first time supersonic jets have graced the skies. Air France and British Airways had a line of supersonic jets between the years 1976 and 2003. The companies stopped offering the service after an accident in 2000 took the lives of 113 passengers. They also had trouble selling tickets because the price of a flight was much higher than a conventional jet. Via USA Today Image via Jacek Dylag

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Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model

January 29, 2019 by  
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Loop, introduced at the World Economic Forum last week, is attempting to transform how we purchase and use everyday goods, from shampoo and laundry detergent to orange juice and oatmeal. Some of largest manufacturers are partnering with Loop to ditch  disposable packaging, and replace it with chic and reusable containers that consumers can leave out on the porch to be picked up, washed and refilled, just like the glass milk bottles of years past. “Loop is about the future of consumption. And one of the tenets is that garbage shouldn’t exist,” said Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, the international recycling company behind Loop. Related: 9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents Szaky added that we need to “get at the whole idea of disposability and single-use items” instead of just removing plastics from the ocean, according to NBC Los Angeles . So, Loop is going back to the 1950s “milkman model,” where the company owns the bottle, and customers can have them picked up when they are done using them. Top brands that are partnering with Loop include Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. The goal, according to P&G vice president and chief sustainability officer Virginie Helias, is to have all the product packaging be reusable or recyclable by 2030. Products like Pantene shampoo will be delivered in a lightweight aluminum pump container, Tide will be packaged in a stainless steel bottle that has a twist cap and Crest mouthwash will be packaged in a glass bottle. Nestle products like Häagen-Dazs ice cream will be delivered in a stainless steel tub. CEO Laurent Freixe said the company hopes to get rid of its non-recyclable packaging by 2025 and have zero-waste at both the production and consumption levels. In the U.S., Loop will launch in New York , New Jersey and Pennsylvania this spring. The plan is to expand to the West Coast by the end of the year. + Loop Via NBC LA Image via Loop

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Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model

The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

January 29, 2019 by  
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Everybody likes the convenience of a free return policy. But what consumers do privately in their home closets — say, ordering two sizes of jeans and returning the one that doesn’t fit — has a growing global impact. A recent U.K. survey concluded that more than 40 percent of clothing bought online is returned. A group called Fashion Revolution wants to do something about this. “Instead of the two-way drive of a delivery van bringing a package to you, it now has to drive back to your house to return it to the retailer,” said Chloé Mikolajczak, country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Belgium. “It literally doubles the amount of kilometers a truck is on the road, because you didn’t like what you ordered. On a global scale, this has a massive impact on the environment and traffic.” Fashion Revolution is a U.K.-based nonprofit whose mission is to radically change the way the fashion industry sources, produces and consumes clothing, as well as to make sure clothes are made in a safe and fair way. Related: 5 ways to become a responsible fashion consumer this year “Highway Fitting,” Fashion Revolution’s new campaign, spreads the message about the environmental impact of misusing the free return policy many clothing brands offer. Jeroen Willekens directed the campaign’s  stylish video , which shows young women posing for photos in their new clothes, tags still attached. At the end of the video, produced by Fledge.tv, they throw the clothes on a truck to be shipped back to the retailer. Fashion Revolution believes that popular Instagram hashtags, such as #ootd (#outfitoftheday), help drive this desire to constantly model something new. Nearly 20 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds acknowledge they’ve worn outfits a single time, so they could post pictures on social media . The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters and water consumers. Treating and dying textiles accounts for 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. But increased consumer awareness can reduce the adverse effects of fashion. Fashion Revolution recommends four ways to minimize your impact: Reduce consumption by choosing carefully and buying less. If your desired outfit is only available online, do extra research and read reviews to get a feel for the brand’s sizing. Group your deliveries if possible, rather than have each item sent separately. Resist returns. If the item doesn’t fit, consider giving it to a friend. + Highway Fitting Images via Fledge and Fashion Revolution

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The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

January 17, 2019 by  
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When people think of threatened and endangered species, charismatic animals like tigers and giant pandas are usually top of mind. But climate change  really hits home when it lands in your morning mug. Coffea arabica , the wild relative of the world’s favorite coffee, has hit the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to a study done by scientists at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , 60 percent of wild coffee species risk extinction. The culprits? Climate change, deforestation, pests and fungal pathogens. Kew scientists undertook their research in African forests and on the island of Madagascar. Their computer models predict that by the end of the century, climate change could decrease the land now used for Ethiopian coffee production by 60 percent. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee exporter — the annual export value tops $1 billion — and the birthplace of Arabica coffee. The wild Arabica coffee is a vital seed stock for coffee farmers. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change This is bad news for coffee lovers, the multi-billion dollar coffee industry and the farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihood. “Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic condition,” said Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew. “The use and development of wild coffee resources could be key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.” The Kew study is the first IUCN Red List assessment of the extinction risk to coffee worldwide. “A figure of 60 percent of all coffee species threatened with extinction is extremely high, especially when you compare this to a global estimate of 22 percent for plants,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, senior research leader in Kew’s conservation department and lead scientist for Kew’s plant assessment unit. “Some of the coffee species assessed have not been seen in the wild for more than 100 years, and it is possible that some may already be extinct. We hope this new data will highlight species to be prioritized for the sustainability of the coffee production sector so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard their future.” + Kew Images via Emma Sage and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

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60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

Samson Ogbole is a Nigerian farmer who wants to bring aeroponics to the world

December 24, 2018 by  
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Samson Ogbole is a Nigerian farmer who is trying to solve the problem of land shortages in his native country. Nigeria’s population has now reached 190 million, but there isn’t enough land in the country to grow the food needed for the ever-growing population. So, Ogbole has found a solution — aeroponics. This unconventional method is the process of growing plants in the air without using soil. Ogbole first got involved with soilless farming in 2014, and just two years later founded PS Nutraceuticals, a company that puts cutting-edge agricultural technologies into action to improve the efficiency of food production and to ensure food security. “Soilless growing entails removing the soil component, bringing in substitutes, and applying fertilizer to enable the plants to grow,” Ogbole says. “With soilless farming, we have been able to push for what you call urban farming , where we now have farms in cities such that we are able to cut off the middlemen and marketers.” Ogbole says that there are many advantages to aeroponics, the biggest being that you can grow crops at any time of the year. The method has also allowed them to eliminate pathogens that naturally exist in the soil and affect crops. Related: Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming  Nigeria needs an estimated 78.5 million hectares of land to produce enough food for the population. But, right now there are only 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation , according to the International Trade Administration of the United States. And, Ogbole says that only 46 percent of Nigerian soil is fertile to grow crops, so the country needs to take steps towards self-sustainability in food production and let technology play a more prominent role. He believes that the “war of the future will be fought through agriculture .” “We’re bringing in technology into agriculture so that the youth can actually see this as a viable option,” explains Ogbole. “We also want to ensure that food production is no longer seasonal, and we’re also bringing in smart sensor technologies into agriculture so that you’re able to get feedback from your plants.” The farmer added that the future of the economy depends on a few people who have bright ideas and can think outside the box. It is ideas, not money, that solves problems. Via CNN Images via Shutterstock

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Samson Ogbole is a Nigerian farmer who wants to bring aeroponics to the world

A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

September 20, 2018 by  
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The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute in Thailand is taking its own teachings to heart with the an eco-friendly campus crafted from 22 recycled shipping containers. Now, the institute has a clear example when teaching students about the importance of upcycling and sustainability, plus plenty of space for educating on tree conservation, urban farming, waste management and more. As an institution aimed at teaching others about sustainability, the ISDSI made every effort to minimize any impact throughout the building process. Starting with a bare lot full of trees , the final design saved all but two of the acacia wood grove by using a skilled crane operator to maneuver the shipping containers into place around the existing landscape. They also scrutinized the amount of concrete that was necessary and took steps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island The  shipping containers were hand-selected with the end design in mind, so when each showed up on site, it had a specific purpose. Once the containers were properly stacked, builders began to cut out portions of the massive metal boxes in order to create windows, doors, decks and connecting open-air walkways. To take the sustainable design one step further, none of the cut metal went to waste, as it was turned into interior walls, doors, sinks, bathroom stalls and a kiosk and welcome counter in the cafe and gym. The complex also includes classrooms, conference rooms, a kitchen and plenty of outdoor spaces. The entire project took about nine months to complete. In addition to reusing containers slotted for melt-down recycling on the front end of the project, careful thought went into long-term energy savings from daily operations. For example, the entire campus uses low-energy LED lighting for areas not already lit through copious natural lighting. Proper insulation keeps the campus temperate, but when air conditioning is necessary, each pod has its own unit for efficiency, and most of the units were recycled from old buildings. Outside areas also received a sustainability upgrade with the use of composting , an on-campus garden, plants and green spaces, all intended to help support the soil and provide fresh air. + The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute Images via ISDSI

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A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

Global solar capacity set to pass one terawatt mark by 2023

August 15, 2018 by  
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A new report indicates changes in the international renewables market due to policy changes in China.

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Global solar capacity set to pass one terawatt mark by 2023

Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

July 24, 2018 by  
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Just in time for the 30th Anniversary of Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week, a new map shows the interaction of 45 sharks  with commercial fishing vessels. The interactive map, featuring over 150,000 miles of chartered shark territory and movement in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, seeks to shed light on the perilous environment in which the sharks maneuver on a daily basis and the approximate 100 million sharks killed each year. Austin Gallagher, CEO and chief scientist of Beneath the Waves and a project leader on the maps, said , “Many species of large sharks remain highly vulnerable throughout our oceans , and the integration provided here highlights the magnitude of the threats they face.” Shark expert at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and project collaborator Neil Hammerschlag explained that sharks are “highly mobile,” as demonstrated in the charted data published on the Global Fishing Watch , a non-profit organization launched by Oceana in collaboration with Google and Skytruth. Related: Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong The sharks must navigate around fishing vessels,  creating a wide variety of potentially dangerous interactions. Hammerschlag said, “Many fishing gear types can put these sharks at risk , as both target and bycatch — especially in the international waters of the high seas where no catch limits exist for many shark species.” Many sharks are caught by accident, but they are also subject to targeted hunting for their fins. While the map currently displays recorded data of sharks tagged between 2012 and 2018, Oceana hopes to create a real-time interactive map that includes various shark species including blue sharks, great hammerheads and tiger sharks. Lacey Malarky, an Oceana analyst focused on illegal fishing and seafood fraud, said, “We’re hoping to expand and collaborate with more researchers to not only get more shark data but then other marine wildlife data as well, so that we can really create this interactive map platform that shows all types of marine wildlife and how they’re interacting with fishing vessels.” + Oceana + Beneath the Waves Via EcoWatch

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Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers

Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

July 2, 2018 by  
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Good news for science and for the Earth: scientists looking for rare research specimens, such as the smoothtooth blacktip shark or Antarctic skate, now have a website to request or trade biological odds and ends. Built by students and backed by startup accelerators, Otlet.io allows researchers to list their surplus research samples and request those currently not available through other means. The site has already been acknowledged as a major win for conservation . The website is a product born of frustration: founders Lauren Meyer and Madi Green, two PhD students in Australia and Tasmania, were having trouble finding specimens to complete projects. After completing an undergraduate honors thesis with limited data, Meyer discovered that a colleague held several tiger shark livers – which she needed to present a conclusive report. To improve communications and cooperation between researchers, Meyer and Green started SharkShare.com, which ultimately evolved to Otlet. Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Universities hail the project as a crucial step forward for conservation. Some species listed on Otlet today are either Red List-threatened or considered data deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – and, by sharing existing resources, scientists can continue their current research without further threatening any species. To begin the specimen swapping process, scientists simply create an account on Otlet and share what they have or what they need. When a match occurs, individuals can reach out to one another to coordinate exchanges and determine shipping responsibility. The community is only open to active researchers: before requesting or listing anything, users must provide their academic status, organization affiliation and details on their specific field of study. Even though the website is relatively new, it’s already created major waves across the international science community: there are more than 10,000 listings on Otlet representing 135 distinct species from 47 nations. Recently added to the specimen database are flapnose ray fins from the Red Sea, livers from South Australian thresher sharks and Pacific spookfish muscles from the subantarctic Pacific Ocean . All are available for exchange with other scientists. Otlet receives support from Australia’s St. George Bank and the New South Wales Government, startup incubator BlueChilli and the Save Our Seas foundation. + Otlet Via  Earther Images via Wikimedia Commons

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Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

June 12, 2018 by  
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The price of solar energy could further fall this year, experts say. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis published by PV Magazine predicted a 34 percent drop in the price of multicrystalline solar modules in China, an event expected to influence prices around the world. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said a price drop could open up “further space for more ambition to tackle climate change , which is crucial to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement .” The 2018 solar panel price decline could be about the same as the drop in module prices in 2016, and would be exceeded only by 2011’s 40 percent drop in prices, PV Magazine said. BNEF’s benchmark monocrystalline module price was $0.37 per watt for 2017’s fourth quarter, and could be just $0.24 per watt by 2018’s close. BNEF experts predict module prices will drop another 10 to 15 percent next year. Related: The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017 The price decline is a result of withdrawn support for China’s photovoltaic market. Since China is the biggest solar market in the world, the price fall could emanate. PV Magazine cited a BNEF note saying, “Oversupply is universal.” The note predicted a market panic initially, and developers could halt installation in the third quarter and wait for cheaper module prices and release of new quotas. India and developing countries around the world could benefit from the panel price decline, according to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC praised the International Solar Alliance (ISA), started by India and France in 2015 to focus on investment in large-scale solar power in developing countries. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said earlier this year, “Our globally agreed goals in the Paris Agreement and the Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without your [ISA’s] effort to scale up solar power generation and support countries with great solar potential … This is our moment to deliver on the promise of a better future agreed in Paris.” + Bloomberg New Energy Finance Via PV Magazine and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

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