EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

April 25, 2018 by  
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Just weeks after this year’s March for Science ,  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is taking a shot at science — “secret science,” in his words . Pruitt recently proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of research the agency could draw on in crafting regulations. Reuters described the move as “an apparent concession to big business” which has angled for the restrictions for a long time. Pruitt’s proposal would mean the EPA wouldn’t be able to use scientific research based on confidential data. That means the agency would only be able to draw on studies that make all their data publicly available for everyone to scrutinize, according to NPR . The administrator said in a statement, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end. The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.” The EPA’s statement said the proposal is consistent with scientific journals like Nature and Science ‘s data access requirements. Related: Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science But some scientists are worried — the move could place crucial data off limits. NPR quoted Sean Gallagher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science ‘s senior government relations officer, as saying, “Our concern with this is they are quite literally limiting the best available science that can be used by the EPA.” Epidemiological studies are often utilized in the agency’s regulatory decisions, and Gallagher said, “Those studies involve people like you and me, signing confidentiality agreements that the scientists doing the studies won’t reveal my personal health information, like my vital statistics, or my death certificate, if I die during the course of the study. This is the kind of science that the EPA relies on, whether it looks at chemicals or particulates and their mortality or health effects. It involves private data.” The proposal won’t enter into force yet; Reuters said there will be a 30-day comment period and the proposal would need to be finalized. + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and NPR Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NRDC pix on Flickr

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The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

April 24, 2018 by  
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Maryland just became the second state in America to ban pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Animal rights advocates say the move will help cut demand for animals from puppy mills . The bill, HB 1662 , also encourages pet stores to work with rescue groups and animal shelters to promote the adoption of homeless animals, according to The Humane Society . Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law with bipartisan support. The state already has regulations in place requiring stores to reveal breeder information, and stores cannot use breeders that the United States Department of Agriculture has cited in the last two years. But delegate Benjamin Kramer, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Washington Post the regulations aren’t enough to protect animals. Related: California bans puppy mills and requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals Pet store owners fought against the law, hoping Hogan would veto it. Just Puppies co-owner Jeanea Thomson said her store doesn’t want animals from puppy mills, and that she and her husband visit their breeders, most in Iowa and Missouri, to vouch for conditions. But Kramer said the farms that store owners describe are abominations, telling The Washington Post, “There is not a single one that is this righteous, beautiful, loving, caring facility where there is room for puppies to roam and for breeding dogs to play.” Humane Society Maryland state director Emily Hovermale described the ban as a lifesaving measure that would close the state’s pet store market to puppy mills. She said, “Maryland has set an important precedent with this rejection of animal abuse that other states will surely follow.” Emily McCobb, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said a ban could result in a dog shortage, and people might not be sure where to go to get a pet. “There’s a lot of messaging around ‘adopt, don’t shop,’” she said. “But we haven’t done a good job of messaging about how to find responsible breeders.” The law will fully go into effect in 2020. It follows a bill passed in California last year that requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals. + The Humane Society Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

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Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

April 23, 2018 by  
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just pledged to personally cover the $4.5 million bill that the United States is obligated to contribute as part of the Paris climate agreement . In doing so, Bloomberg is picking up the slack for Donald Trump , who dramatically withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement in 2017. “America made a commitment and as an American, if the government’s not going to do it, we all have responsibility,” said the former Republican NYC mayor on CBS’s Face the Nation . Bloomberg, who has amassed a $50 billion fortune through his financial services, mass media, and software company Bloomberg L.P., has occasionally appeared on speculative lists of candidates for President of the United States. Still, the former mayor of the most populous city in the United States said that the likelihood of a Bloomberg 2020 campaign was “not very high.” When asked whether his actions served to fill a leadership gap in Washington , Bloomberg replied that he was simply serving the public interest “Well, I think that this is what the American public when you poll them say they want to do,” he explained. Related: Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths Despite his apparent disinterest in presidential politics, Bloomberg did have a few words of wisdom for President Trump . “He should change his mind [on the Paris climate agreement] and say look there really is a problem here,” said Bloomberg. “America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster.” Bloomberg has not committed to providing the funds necessary under Paris beyond 2018. He hopes that Trump will have changed his mind by then. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia and Face the Nation

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Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

If Pope Francis were the United States Secretary of Treasury

April 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Imagine if green banks had their way.

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If Pope Francis were the United States Secretary of Treasury

173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

April 13, 2018 by  
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Shipping was the sole industry excluded from the 2015 Paris Agreement , even though the sector’s annual carbon emissions are higher than those of Germany  — and countries now plan to address that. 173 nations just agreed to a historic, mandatory deal to slash shipping industry emissions . Related: World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway One week of negotiations at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in London yielded this landmark deal. Envoys of 173 countries agreed to reduce emissions at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States objected. Shipping vessels tend to burn fuel oil, which is cheap but also one of the dirtiest fossil fuels . According to Bloomberg , the industry didn’t factor into the Paris agreement because each participating country presented its own plans to curb emissions, excluding the seas. University College London Energy Institute reader Tristan Smith told Bloomberg, “It is likely this target will tighten further, but even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes.” BREAKING: Commitment to decarbonise shipping is welcome – governments can no longer shirk decisions on how to cut ship GHG emissions https://t.co/7Bh4pWIO04 pic.twitter.com/mEp3t36zSM — Transport & Environment (@transenv) April 13, 2018 “Making new ships emit less CO2 is the most obvious way to decarbonize the sector because ships have long lifetimes, usually around 25 to 30 years,” shipping officer Faig Abbasov of European NGO Transport & Environment told Bloomberg. “If you don’t build ships more efficiently, those ships will still be sailing around in the middle of the century.” As with the Paris Agreement , some people are saying this new deal doesn’t go far enough. A statement from the Clean Shipping Coalition (of which Transport & Environment is a member) said the target set “falls short of the 70 to 100 percent cut by 2050 that is needed to align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.” Transport & Environment shipping director Bill Hemmings said, “The IMO should and could have gone a lot further but for the dogmatic opposition of some countries led by Brazil, Panama, Saudi Arabia. Scant attention was paid to US opposition.” + Clean Shipping Coalition Statement Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

April 13, 2018 by  
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Tesla is getting all the attention when it comes to solar roofs , but some competitors out there are innovating in ways that even Elon Musk hasn’t thought of. 3 in 1 Roof , for instance, offers insulation, extreme wind protection and solar power, all in one. The solar roof system comes in a huge range of finishes, has a lighter load than traditional slate tiles, and is the first to claim zero heat transference into the attic – so it reduces your heating and cooling costs while providing you with clean, green energy. All at about half of the price of a Tesla solar roof. The Ft. Lauderdale-based company calculates that its offering will be about $11 less than Tesla’s solar roof per square foot. It’s also lighter than traditional slate roofing at just 110 pounds per 10 square feet, which means that architects can engineer homes with structures designed to support lighter loads. The roofs are designed to eliminate condensation between the attic deck and insulation, preventing mold and rot. The roofs are also hurricane resistant, standing up to winds at 200 mph. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Because of the highly UV-resistant surface and durable foam insulation, 3 in 1 Roofs should last 300% longer than traditional products and can save you up to 38% on your HVAC costs. If you want to nab one, the company is accepting $500 deposits and guarantees it will be ready for installation in 2019 – or you get your deposit, plus $500 back. You can also get a free car station charger if you are one of the first 1,000 to place an order. + 3 in 1 Roof

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New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

The largest fire in Greenland’s history warns of an extreme future

April 13, 2018 by  
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The largest wildfire in Greenland ‘s history burned bright last summer, a potential warning sign for a future rattled by catastrophic climate change . Scientists are concerned that Greenland’s massive ice sheet may absorb the black carbon smog produced by the fires, as well as by any fires that occur in the future. One-third of the ice sheet has been affected by the soot from the wildfire, which accelerates heat absorption and glacial melting. “I think it’s a warning sign that something like this can happen on permafrost that was supposed to be melting at the end of the century,” rather than the present, Andreas Stohl, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU),  told Live Science . The fire burned about 90 miles northeast of Sisimiut, Greenland’s second largest city, and some suspect it was started by human activity. However, it is possible for  peat in oxygen-rich conditions to spontaneously combust, even when temperatures are low. In total, the wildfire burned about nine square miles of land. Of particular interest to scientists at NILU was the impact that soot might have as it landed on the ice sheets. “If you consider that Greenland has the largest ice sheet, apart from Antarctica , it immediately triggers some thinking,” NILU scientist Nikolaos Evangeliou told Live Science . Related: Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers Computer modeling enabled the NILU team to determine that seven tons of black carbon, approximately 30 percent of the total emissions produced by the fire , landed on the ice sheet . Ultimately, this amount of soot had a relatively small impact, less so even than that of North American wildfires that deposited soot across the sea to Greenland. Nonetheless, the fire may forecast larger ones in Greenland’s future. “If larger fires would burn, they would actually have a substantial impact on melting,” explained Stohl. Fires in Greenland potentially can also continue burning underground even when the surface fires have abated. “We cannot actually be sure that the fires (in Greenland) are out,” said Stohl. Via Live Science Images via NASA Earth Observatory

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The largest fire in Greenland’s history warns of an extreme future

Zaha Hadids only house rises like a spaceship in a forest near Moscow

April 13, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid’s only private house has just been completed and — to no surprise — it looks like a spaceship that has touched down on Earth. Created with a neo-futuristic aesthetic and ample glazing, the Capital Hill Residence stands in stark contrast with its leafy surroundings. The home is located at the heart of Russia’s Barvikha forest, just a couple miles west of Moscow . The $140 million project was completed for real estate developer and entrepreneur Vladislav Doronin, who runs Capital Group and OKO Group . The 36,000-square-foot sci-fi-esque house immediately draws the eye with its stalk-like tower that rises 117 feet above the ground. Hadid placed the master bedroom at the top, so Doronin could wake up to panoramic views of the tree canopy. The master bedroom connects to the lower levels with a glazed elevator and staircase. Related: New images capture Zaha Hadid’s luxury High Line condos in NYC The majority of the home is built into a slope and includes a pool, spa , gym and even a nightclub. Doronin, who met Hadid a decade ago, is reportedly very pleased with his home. “This striking and ambitious building is testimony to her genius,” he said, adding that he was sold from the moment he saw Hadid’s initial sketches on a napkin. “She created the perfect livable sculpture.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Via Dezeen Images via OKO Group

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Zaha Hadids only house rises like a spaceship in a forest near Moscow

5 steps to turn your public policy team into a sustainability ally

April 11, 2018 by  
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A guide to lobbying the lobbyists.

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5 steps to turn your public policy team into a sustainability ally

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