Saturday, March 31, 2018

13 Tips for a More Sustainable Easter Celebration/Huffington Post

God bless you.  Enjoy a great, blessed weekend:

As Easter approaches, Food Tank wants to share some ideas on how to have a more healthful and sustainable holiday.
1. Locally sourced eggs
If you choose to celebrate with real eggs, support your local farmer and buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Eggs from pasture-raised hens are healthier for you, containing more vitamin A, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, according a report conducted by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2. Alternatives to Easter eggs
There are many alternatives to using real eggs for Easter celebrations; for instance, the White House traditionally uses decorated wooden eggs for its annual Easter Egg Roll. There are also plastic Easter eggs that are compostable, and ceramic Easter eggs that are dyeable!
3. Blown eggs
Blown eggs are another reusable dyeable option. Blown eggs are made of real eggs whose yolks and whites have been removed. Here is a tutorial. The leftover yolks and whites can then be used for baking, scrambled eggs, or other cooking projects.
4. Homemade egg decorating
There are many methods to make homemade egg dyes, using vinegar and spices, fruits, and vegetables. Check out these instructions from Real Simple!
5. Prevent food waste
If you hard boil fresh eggs before you dye them, the prospect of eating all of those hardboiled eggs may be daunting, but throwing them out is wasteful. Turn the eggs into a delicious dish: here are some ideas!
6. Avoid plastic Easter grass
Cellophane Easter grass, often found in Easter baskets, cannot go into the recycling bin. If you already have Easter grass, reuse it. If you were going to buy some for Easter baskets, try replacing it with shredded newspaper or tissue paper.
7. Give children stuffed toys instead of live Easter bunnies and chicks
Dyed Easter chicks are a perennially controversial topic: chicks are dyed while in the egg or sprayed shortly after hatching. The food coloring used to dye the chicks is non-toxic, but the real concern is what happens to the chicks after the dye wears off. Chicks are sold as seasonally-themed pets, most of whom are discarded or neglected after they molt and lose their artificially colored feathers. 

Rabbits are also common Easter gifts: just as with chickens, rabbits are often neglected, surrendered to animal rescues, or released into the wild when the novelty wears off. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends giving children stuffed or chocolate bunnies instead of live animals, as rabbits can live seven to ten years on average and are a serious commitment. The Make Mine Chocolate! campaign also strives to educate the public on the realities of rabbit ownership.
8. Make a locally sourced Easter meal
If it’s your tradition to have an Easter meal, why not try to make as many of the dishes as you can from local food? Check Local Harvest for your nearest farmer or farmers market.
9. Visit a local farm
Take the time to bring your family to a nearby farm. Children and adults will get an up-close look at how their food gets from the farm to home. Be sure to contact the farmers ahead of time! Here’s another link to Local Harvest with helpful things to remember before your visit.
10. Instead of an Easter basket, Easter plants
Check your local nursery for seeds or seedlings and give friends and loved ones a reusable Easter gift: a homemade herb garden.
11. Give a donation to Heifer International 
If giving plants is not your style, consider making a donation to Heifer International or a similar non-profit to fight poverty while providing an animal to a family in a developing nation.
12. Minimize packaging with candy and treats
Choose Easter treats with less packaging to cut down on the amount of waste generated by the holiday festivities.
13. Reuse your existing plastic eggs
If you still have a treasure trove of plastic eggs at home, there are plenty of ideas online for upcycling. From tea candle holders to a set of toy teacups to sophisticated Easter decorations, there are many great tutorials online.
Happy Easter!
Also, in case you missed it, check out our 5 Ways to Make Your Passover Seder More Sustainable
This column was written by Food Tank: The Food Think Tank‘s Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Work.

The Trillion Plastic Items That We Throw Away Every Day/Earth Day Network

In faith (and this is a big weekend for the celebration and renewal of the spirit) they say you need to do the little things well to get ready for the big moments.  Sustainability is the same...a leads to be leads to c....

We see it here again.

We consume single-use plastics every day (food packaging, shopping bags, drink straws, beverage containers, etc.) and, for the most part, we discard them immediately after their first use. These items drastically increase the plastic pollution that is choking our oceans and affecting our health and wellbeing. Did you know that?
SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FACT:  In 2016, world plastics production totaled around 335 million metric tons, and roughly half of that is destined for a single-use product.
SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FACT: The main cause for the increase in plastic production is plastic packaging which constitutes 52% of plastics thrown away.
The constant presence of single-use plastics in modern culture is one of the reasons why they contribute so much to the growing problem of plastic pollution. We use these objects so frequently on a day to day basis that it requires a serious and conscious effort to cut them out of our lives.
To illustrate the journey of reducing one’s consumption of single-use plastics, and to give you some ideas for how you can be more active in your effort to End Plastic Pollution, we are releasing the first of a series of blogs on this topic this week. These stories will come from the perspectives of different staff members here at EDN working to reduce our plastic pollution footprint.
  • Want to learn how many single-use plastic items you consume? Use our PLASTIC POLLUTION CALCULATOR
  • Learn about what to do using our Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkitand take the steps to reduce your plastic pollution footprint.
  • Join our campaign! Share your stories with your friends and tag them so others can learn what you are doing. Use #EndPlasticPollution, #5RChallenge and #EarthDay2018
Together, we can protect the planet and people we love!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ecobuild Southeast Asia 2018, Focusing on the Theme: “Achieving Peak Productivity”/RNN

The role of increased productivity in raising our sustainability index is many times misunderstood or under valued.  Not here, as you will see.  It is, in fact, an important foundation of the EcoBuild plan laid out for Asia.

Hosted by Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia and organised by UBM Malaysia, Ecobuild Southeast Asia will be held from 27 to 29 March 2018 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).
2018 marks ICW’s 18th edition bringing together construction industry players to showcase, learn, build partnerships and share innovative ideas. This year’s theme, “Achieving Peak Productivity” fits perfectly with one of the pillars of the Malaysia Construction Industry Transformation Plan (CITP) for 2020.
Ecobuild SEA is co-located with Greenbuild Asia, Ecolight Asean, Construction Showcase, Malaysia IBS International Exhibition (MIIE) and Construction Career Fair, making it a true platform for the construction industry in ASEAN.
Mr M Gandhi, Group Managing Director of UBM ASEAN Business said, “The opportunities created in the booming construction industry have attracted the attention of companies in the region. We welcome Gamuda Berhad on board as a Gold Sponsor and with over 150 participating companies, which include UAC Berhad, Protasco Berhad, USG Boral Sdn Bhd, BASF Sdn Bhd, Bubbledeck Construction Sdn Bhd, Ply-Tec Formwork Industries Sdn Bhd, API Precast Sdn Bhd, Johawaki Construction Sdn Bhd, Engtex Industries Sdn Bhd, Perceptive Profile Sdn Bhd and many other leading companies coming from more than 10 countries, namely MalaysiaChinaNew ZealandUnited Kingdom, Korea, GreeceSingaporeVietnam and many more...."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

It’s the No. 1 Power Source, but Natural Gas Faces Headwinds/NY Times

It is always an interesting conversation around natural gas as a bridge fuel.  No doubt that capturing and transporting gas has an environmental costs.  Yet, we are clearly not ready for an economy completely devoid of fossil fuel.  There's no way we'll meet industrial demands right now with renewables.

There is risk every time we use energy.  Every time we power up equipment.  Every time we turn on a light bulb.  Should we completely move away from natural gas?  No.  Can we make it more efficient by using fuel cells and microgrids?   We can.  

Is it a good bridge fuel as move to clean energy?  We think it is.  You?

As environmental concerns drive power companies away from using coal, natural gas has emerged as the nation’s No. 1 power source. Plentiful and relatively inexpensive as a result of the nation’s fracking boom, it has been portrayed as a bridge to an era in which alternative energy would take primacy.

But technology and economics have carved a different, shorter pathway that has bypassed the broad need for some fossil-fuel plants. And that has put proponents of natural gas on the defensive.

Some utility companies have scrapped plans for new natural-gas plants in favor of wind and solar sources that have become cheaper and easier to install. Existing gas plants are being shut because their economics are no longer attractive. And regulators are increasingly challenging the plans of companies determined to move forward with new natural-gas plants.

“It’s a very different world that we’re arriving at very quickly,” said Robert McCullough, an energy consultant in Portland, Ore. “That wind farm can literally be put on a train and brought online within a year. It is moving so fast that even critics of the old path like myself have been taken by surprise.”

The shifting dynamics are being seen in the Western states in particular — driven not only by economics, but by regulation and climate as well.

The Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, recently refused to endorse plans by three power companies that included more natural-gas facilities. Commissioners directed them to make greater use of energy storage and plants that produce zero emissions.

“It’s very erratic what we’re now doing with power,” said Andrew M. Tobin, an Arizona commissioner who led efforts to block new gas plants. “I am so nervous that we will end up building a lot of capital plant that doesn’t stand the test of time.”

Some feel the push to get beyond natural gas may be too much, too soon. Officials at Arizona Public Service, the largest utility in the state, said they needed to include new natural-gas development as part of an overall mix, partly because of the state’s round-the-clock air-conditioning demands.

“Our needs are different than other utilities,” said Greg Bernosky, the utility’s director of state regulation and compliance. “We need resources that can have a long duration when our load is high, well after the sun has set. Natural gas resources provide that flexibility.”

Nationwide, other utility executives, power producers and federal regulators have also argued that a healthy power grid requires consistent power, even when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind ceases to blow. The more solar and wind power that is added to the electric grid, they say, the greater the need for reliable backup sources like natural gas.

“Gas has got to be part of that equation,” Robert F. Powelson, a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, recently told an energy conference. “The gas system has gotten extremely reliable.”

And he argued that even recent advances in storage did not justify an overreliance on alternative energy, however inexpensive. “Storage is great,” said Mr. Powelson, a nominee of President Trump and a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. “But that is not a reliable long-term solution to the energy markets.”

Natural gas isn’t likely to be unseated as the country’s primary source of electricity generation anytime soon. In fact, utility companies plan to add more natural-gas plants than any other source, including all alternative energy sources, like solar, wind and hydropower, combined.

But the calculus is rapidly shifting as the prices of wind and solar power continue to fall. According to the Department of Energy, power generated by natural gas declined 7.7 percent in 2017.

And the latest report by Lazard, the financial advisory and management firm, found that the cost of power from utility-scale solar farms was now on a par with natural-gas generation — and that wind farms were less expensive still.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

World’s Biggest Concentrated Solar Power Project Breaks Ground/RNN

t seems to RNN that a day doesn’t go by that Dubai isn’t doing something to truly set the bar higher in almost every market sector imaginable, whether it’s arts and entertainment, architecture, and now solar.
Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum broke ground on the 700MW fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the biggest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project in the world. The start of the new project advances the UAE’s global leadership in the use of clean and renewable energy.
His Highness said that developing the UAE’s infrastructure is top priority for the leadership and vital to raising the country’s global competitiveness. “The UAE is developing a new model for sustainability and innovation and is keen to find creative solutions based on international best practices and benchmarks. The country is a pioneer in transforming its energy sector to one based on solar power and clean energy,” His Highness added.
“We will continue pursuing ambitious investments with an emphasis on projects that have a positive impact on people’s lives. Clean and renewable energy is key to sustainable development and the UAE has set an example for its rapid adoption,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
“We have developed a sustainable infrastructure that will serve new generations. This infrastructure has been built by young Emiratis who will lead our country through the next phase of growth. We are proud of our nation’s advancements in clean energy and green economy. The country is reaping the fruits today of the strong planning that we initiated years ago,” His Highness further said.
HH Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied at the ground-breaking ceremony by Deputy Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, apart from ministers, and director generals and senior officials of Dubai Government departments.
This CSP project, based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, will generate 700MW of clean energy at a single site. The project, which features the world’s tallest solar tower measuring 260 metres and the world’s largest thermal energy storage capacity, will provide clean energy to over 270,000 residences in Dubai, reducing 1.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. The CSP project will use two technologies for the production of clean energy: the 600MW parabolic basin complex and the 100MW solar tower over a total area of 43 square kilometres. This project, which features an investment of AED14.2 billion, has achieved the world’s lowest Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of USD 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h). This is a new global achievement for the UAE.
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said: “I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for honouring us with his presence today on the occasion of this important milestone in our progress towards sustainability. This pioneering Emirati landmark has become a global model based on a vision. It anticipates the future of a nation that sees sustainability as a life-long approach, and a basis for its progress and pioneering achievements for generations to come. President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has affirmed his commitment to continuing efforts to conserve the environment and enhance the sustainability of our natural resources. This continues the legacy of our nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who once observed, Our environment and the resources within it are not ours. They are simply on loan to us, and in our charge. It is the responsibility of us all to care for them, and pass them on unharmed to future generations.,,:

For Today's Show/RNN

Join us live today at 1p, ET as we talk with Luke Tonache, NRDC,and get more insight into this article he co-wrote for them:

Testing at National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. Source: EPA

This post was coauthored with Dan West, NRDC Legislative Advocate
President Trump says he’s saving the U.S. auto industry, but his budget request for fiscal year 2019 tells a different story. It would cut programs at both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) that drive advanced vehicle manufacturing.
If enacted, these cuts would hurt American automakers and their workers, hit consumers in the pocketbook, force us all to breathe dirtier air and increase dangerous carbon pollution that fuels climate change.
In his State of the Union speech, Trump declared:
“In Detroit, I halted government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers—so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.”
But Trump’s logic is flawed. The truth is that current clean vehicle and fuel economy standards support 288,000 jobs in more than 1,200 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Under these standards, the auto industry has been booming over the past decade while making cleaner, more efficient vehicles.
Yet his budget request for FY 2019 would slash, or even eliminate, funding for the very programs that helped make these gains possible.
Trump’s budget would kill DOE’s successful Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) direct loan program. The ATVM program is part of the larger DOE Loan Program, which has created thousands of clean energy jobs, leverages long-term private investment, and generates a return on investment for the federal government. These are all things Trump says he wants, yet his budget proposes to zero out this program when there are still billions left to be disbursed.
The ATVM program, which was created under President George W. Bush, helped Ford survive the Great Recession. Because of ATVM loans, Ford was able to create and preserve more than 33,000 jobs. Ford facilities supported by those loans have produced millions of fuel-efficient vehicles that DOE projects will save 268 million gallons of gas and prevent 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
ATVM loans also have propelled Tesla and Nissan to the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution. Tesla used its loan to create 1,500 jobs and turn its facility in Fremont, California, into a hub for advanced manufacturing. Tesla paid off its loan five years early and has since become one of the highest valued car companies in the world. Nissan used its loan to create more than 1,300 jobs and upgraded its facilities to manufacture up to 4.4 GWh (Gigawatt hours) worth of battery packs and up to 150,000 LEAF vehicles annually. The LEAF is now the world’s best-selling electric car.
Trump’s 2019 budget request also eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) which has provided millions of research dollars for electric vehicle batteries, alternative fuels, and vehicle emissions reduction.
Finally, Trump’s budget massively cuts the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies Office at DOE by $238 million, or 78 percent compared to 2017 current levels. The office funds crucial research into electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, energy efficient mobility systems, advanced combustion systems and fuels, lightweight and propulsion materials, and technology integration.
At EPA, Trump wants to cut several programs that hold Clean Air Act violators like Volkswagen accountable and enable upgrades to existing domestic fleets—programs that keep pollution down and support innovation in U.S. auto manufacturing.
This includes weakening the EPA’s ability to test and monitor vehicle emissions and enforce standards by cutting the Office of Transportation and Air Quality budget by 27 percent and staff by 13 percent compared to the agency's estimated level for 2018. This office houses the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL), which enforces vehicle emissions rules, including the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal that led to a $25 billion settlement. Cutting the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based lab’s funding basically gives vehicle manufacturers license to pollute.
The budget would also eliminate numerous programs where EPA partners with businesses or state and local governments to keep vehicle emissions in check, including SmartWay and the State and Local Climate Energy Program.
Trump also wants to whack by 75 percent the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program that provides money for communities affected by highly concentrated diesel pollution to retrofit and upgrade existing diesel engines. This program has shown to reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions up to 95 percent, smog-forming emissions such as hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to 90 percent, and greenhouse gases up to 20 percent.

By gutting the clean vehicle programs, it’s the Trump administration that is threatening to cripple the titans of Motor City. The American auto industry has been successfully revving its engines of innovation, making cleaner and more efficient vehicles under tighter fuel economy and emissions standards. Not only do they help keep our air clean, they drive the kind of advanced manufacturing that U.S. automakers need to remain competitive in the future. Trump’s budget cuts and efforts to rollback standards are the true danger to the industry and our health.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ski Resorts Fight Climate Change With Snow Guns and Buses

Ski Resorts Fight Climate Change With Snow Guns and Buses

by Eric Niiler
After a wimpy winter, spring break has arrived, and skiers and snowboarders from Maine to Mammoth Lakes are stoked. More than 18 feet of snow has dropped at Squaw Valley, Calif., in March; Utah’s famed powder resorts have finally broken the 100-inch mark; and New England has been pummeled by four big storms pushing closing dates to late April.

At the same time, there are warning signs about the future of the sport. Climate change has already made winters warmer and shorter, while a March study by researchers at Oregon State University found North America’s snowpack has declined up to 30 percent in the past century. By 2050, climate change will cut ski resort winter seasons by 50 percent, with the hardest-hit in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Upper Midwest, according to a 2016 study by the University of Colorado, the Environmental Protection Agency, and consulting firm Abt Associates.

Mountain snow isn’t just important for shredding; it also provides drinking water for urban dwellers and irrigates farmers’ fields. Those issues are front of mind for many municipalities, but after years of inaction, the ski industry itself is starting to take climate change seriously. Resorts are deploying new snow-making technology to adapt to unpredictable conditions, reducing the energy skiers use to get up the slopes, and even trying to alter customers' habits.

“Our snowpack has decreased, but I don’t think it’s going to disappear,” says Maura Olivos, sustainability coordinator at Utah’s Alta, which opened 80 years ago. In the future, Olivos says skiers might not be floating on as much fluffy pow. “There will be less powdery snow and more dense snow,” Olivos says. “Our skier expectations may have to change so they are not anticipating powder every time they come here. We are going to have to be appreciative of what we get.”

But that shift might not be easy. For generations of skiers, Alta’s calling card has been fluffy powder. Tons of it. Skiers flock to big open bowls like the Ballroom or tree-lined ridges like High Traverse because the snow is forgiving and the turns are steep, soft, and fun. Alta and its neighboring resorts of the Wasatch Range receive powder snow because of the drying effect of the nearby Great Salt Lake on moisture-laden storms moving west from the Pacific Ocean. Alta’s snow has an average moisture content of 8.4 percent, compared to the 12 percent average US snow, or man-made snow's 24 to 28 percent.

Alta Ski Area

Until recently, Alta and other western resorts didn’t have to rely on snowmaking. But that’s changed. The resort has doubled its capacity in the past decade, although it finishes snowmaking by January, Olivos says. The resort paints snowmaking machines and water lines in camouflage colors to hide them from customers who are expecting a verdant scene of spruce trees and white powder in the winter, or wildflowers in the summer.

On the other side of Baldy Mountain from Alta lies Snowbird, a resort that boasts of one of the longest ski seasons in North America. But this year, for the first time, it opened and then closed again in November after temperatures hit 55 degrees.

When Jonathan Tadje started work as a snowmaking maintenance technician at Snowbird 10 years ago, he had to turn the valves manually when it reached right temperature (usually 28 degrees). “When the temperature dropped, we sent more water to the snow guns,” Tadje says. “We hiked up, or rode snowmobiles or trucks with chains. That was a big part of the adventure. It was all a manual process.” Now, each gun has its individual weather station with temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors that adjust to changing condition; they automatically feed in just enough water at the right time. Automated snowmaking uses less electricity, and less water, which is a precious resource in Utah.
Tadje thinks customers are getting used to manmade snow and the work he does. “At first, they didn’t like the quality,” he says. “Some seasons we just opened with manmade snow. But we always got appreciation when Mother Nature was running behind.”

In California’s Sierra Mountains, snowmaking has gone big-time, just as the region’s resorts have rebounded from a devastating five-year drought that ended in 2017. Squaw Valley spent $10 million on new snowmaking machines that adjust pressure and water volume several times a second, according to president and chief operating officer Andy Wirth. “We produce 40 percent more snow per gallon of water than we did five years ago,” says Wirth.

But unpredictable winters can still leave resorts reeling. This season, Squaw got almost no natural snow from December to February. Then came a series of big storms that are threatening the all-time record of 212 inches for March. The boom-and-bust cycle of snow in the Sierras has caused Wirth big headaches. Without much natural snow, Squaw had to rely more on man-made snow—which is usually used to cover the base trails, not the steep slopes that skiers and boarders crave. Ideally the season would progress bit-by-bit, spreading out the powder days and the crowds. But big dumps of snow all at once can make travel difficult, and make ski vacations difficult to plan ahead of time.
And it's not just low snowpack that causes trouble. In 2011, high winds and snowstorms in the area knocked out power and forced some re-thinking. Wirth, along with his local utility, came up with a solution that combines microgrid of wind and solar power, along with Tesla battery storage for 8 megawatts of backup power for the resort and nearby community. The resort expects to operate on 100 percent renewable power by December 2018, says Wirth.

For Wirth, climate change is real, but it doesn’t mean that his industry is going kaput. “The good news is that skiing is going to be great in 2030,” he says. “We will continue to lose the polar ice caps and I have great concern about the health of the environment and our society. We know that volatile weather will increase, but that we can invest in our business and develop our product and alternatively, we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

For 27 year-old ski instructor Bo Stevens, climate change isn’t top of mind. He says he doesn’t have time to do the research, but some things have bugged him about the past few seasons. “It seems that we’ve been getting some very warm winters,” says Stevens, who moved to Utah from Nashville to ski. “When you get 50 degree temperatures at 8,000 feet, it's very weird.”

I talked to Stevens on the ski bus from Snowbird to Salt Lake City about 45 minutes away. He gets a pass from Snowbird, while 54,000 tourists get a combination ski/bus pass each winter for the resorts near Salt Lake City. Business leaders and resorts have made a big push to get skiers out of their cars to ease traffic, cut air pollution, and reduce the ski industry’s carbon footprint. The transit push is also helping put a dent, albeit a small one, in the notorious smog that often blankets the Salt Lake basin.
“The ski industry has not found a good narrative for our own responsibility for driving demand,” says Scott Beck, CEO of Visit Salt Lake. He says that the ski resorts and the travel industry generate a big carbon footprint, with folks flying in to take advantage of Utah's amazing snow conditions, but they also are taking steps to reduce it.

Beck says the region is considering the idea of tolls for cars with fewer than three passengers on the canyon roads that serve the resorts near Salt Lake City. There are also more financial incentives for seasonal workers. Snowbird, for example, is offering employee carpoolers free reusable water pouches every five rides, a transferable half-price lift ticket for every 10 rides and chance to ski on a closed run with friends.

These restrictions and higher costs might push some skiers and boarders away, but most winter enthusiasts are used to unpredictable weather and crappy snow, as long as they can dream of waking up to an early morning powder day. Climate change might make that dream less attainable, but most won’t give it up.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Invisible Plastic Particles in Our Drinking Water/Earth Day Network

Great piece on environmental degradation  of our water supply and the potential risks to our health:

To End Plastic Pollution and to recognize World Water Day, let’s take a look at how microplastic pollution gets into our drinking water supply. Here are some facts for you to consider:
PLASTIC POLLUTION FACT:  Microplastics (extremely small pieces of plastic) are present in almost all water systems in the world—streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
PLASTIC POLLUTION FACT: 83% of the samples of tap water tested from major metropolitan areas around the world were contaminated with plastic fibers. In another study, 93% of water samples from major bottled water suppliers from around the world showed signs of microplastic contamination, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
The ways microplastics enter our water supply are surprising. Microplastics emanate from clothing, cosmetics, car tires, and paint chips, among other sources. They’re also created from all plastic items as they erode into smaller and smaller pieces.
You might think that water purification systems run by cities and companies remove these microplastics, but you would be wrong. Plastic fibers are so tiny that they seem to be able to pass through the filtering systems used to purify the water from streams or rivers that goes into our homes and water bottles. They are also small enough to be easily transported by the wind.
Since we seem to be drinking water contaminated with microplastics, what impact does this have on our health? We know that plastics contain chemicals added during the manufacturing process and that plastics absorb other toxins from the water. We know that those chemicals, when consumed by humans, have been associated with some health issues.
You’ll be surprised to learn the ways plastic in drinking water can potentially harm the people who drink it!
Would like to learn more and do something to help prevent this problem from getting worse?
We have resources to help individuals, organizations and educators like you learn more about the issue and organize your friends, family, and community to End Plastic Pollution.

Crypto-Asset PLANT Token Created to Promote Organics Recycling in U.S./RNN

More new technology to look at.

EcoloCap has launched a new brand, and Blockchain based crypto-asset PLANT Token, to promote the byproducts from the production of the ECOS Bio-ART process, as well as promote organics recycling throughout the United States. Plantonium Organics will focus strictly on selling high-energy soil amendment products to the public directly from their online store. While Plantonium’s PLANT Token will focus on pioneering an innovative organics recycling business model, where anyone can earn PLANT Tokens .
The high-quality compost that is created from our Bio-ART technology can now be purchased online. At the current time, Plantonium Organics sells two different compost products under the “OG” brand name. OG liquid, a high-quality compost tea, and OG Compost, a premium soil amendment that is now available. Other products are under development and will be available soon for various applications.
James Kwak, EcoloCap CEO, states, “We saw an opportunity in the market to offer our high-quality soil amendments at a better value than what is currently available. This will be a great way to showcase the quality of our byproduct created through the Bio-ART process and continue to push our industry’s sustainability forward.”
EcoloCap’s vision is to provide natural and organic products at rates that are more affordable to individual consumers along with continuing its efforts to deliver to its bulk distributors.
PLANT Token is currently live on WAVES Decentralized Exchange (DEX), with a white paper coming soon.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Electric Cars May Be Cheaper Than Gas Guzzlers in Seven Years/Bloomberg

Good news from Bloomberg:  

  • Parity with petroleum-fueled cars seen by 2024, BNEF says
  • Electric cars may be cheaper than their petroleum counterparts by 2025 if the cost of lithium-ion batteries continues to fall.
    Some models will cost the same as combustion engines as soon as 2024 and become cheaper the following year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. For that to happen, battery pack prices need to fall even as demand for the metals that go into the units continues to rise, the London-based researcher said on Thursday.
  • The clamor to roll out electric vehicles has grown louder as countries and companies race to clean up smog in their cities and hit ambitious climate goals set by the Paris Agreement. U.K. lawmakers started an inquiry into the market in September, probing the necessary infrastructure and trying to determine whether to bring forward the 2040 deadline to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars.
    With incentives, the U.K. could lower its automotive trade deficit by 5 billion pounds ($7 billion), the Green Alliance reported. The World Wildlife Fund said that phasing out diesel and petrol cars earlier could add an extra 14,000 jobs to the industry. In separate reports this week, both groups urged Britain to bring forward the ban on petroleum-fueled cars to 2030.
    China, the world’s biggest polluter, is looking to lead the world in electric-vehicle adoption with the government implementing production quotas aimed at increasing sales. The billionaire founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Li Shufu, bought a 7.3 billion euro ($9 billion) stake in Daimler AG last month.
  • The expected increase in mass manufacturing of lithium-ion storage should help drive battery prices to as low as $70 a kilowatt hour by 2030, BNEF said. Battery packs averaged about $208 a kilowatt hour in 2017, squeezing profit margins and representing some two fifths of the total costs of electric vehicle.
    "Electric vehicle sales will continue to ramp up in the coming years but battery prices still need to decline further for real mass market adoption," said Colin McKerracher, transport analyst at BNEF. "If battery material costs keep rising sharply this could push back the crossover point."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Solar Cell Design Turns Rain to Energy/RNN

We bring you more updated technology as we build a better quality of life and robust low-carbon economy.

Is this the “Holy Grail,” that the solar industry has been looking for, the ability to generate energy when it’s raining?
Cloudy, rainy weather often affects the amount of electricity generated by solar cells. But that may be a thing of a past if efforts coming out of China has anything to do with it. By attaching a transparent nano-generator to solar cells, a Chinese research team has recently developed a device that can generate electricity using raindrops when it rains.
Researchers Sun Xuhui and Sun Baoquan of the Institute of Functional Nano and Soft Matter of Soochow University in China reported in the latest issue of the American Chemical Society Nano Magazine that the hybrid device consists of a traditional silicon-based solar cell and a “friction nanogenerator”. “The composition, which can convert the mechanical energy that drops raindrops into electrical energy.”
“Friction Nanogenerators” was first proposed by Prof. Wang Zhonglin’s team at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States. Previous studies have shown that these two types of equipment can be connected together by an external wiring. In this new design, solar cells and “frictional nanogenerators” are integrated into one body through a common electrode. Researchers believe that this design is simpler and greatly improves the output efficiency.
The researchers used a high-conductivity polymer aqueous polymer solution to make the device’s common electrode film. Wen Zhen, the first author of the paper, told Xinhua News Agency reporters that when the raindrops fall, the water droplets are triboelectrically charged with the “frictional nanogenerators” that act as friction layers, and the common electrode thin film acts as a charge-sensitive layer to induce and derive charges.
Wen Zhen said that because the friction layer is transparent, it will hardly affect the incident sunlight, so it will not affect the normal operation of the solar cell itself. When it rains, it can also collect the kinetic energy of falling rain, expanding the scope of energy collection, in the existing large-scale application of silicon-based solar cells, there is a good application prospects.
It’s always both exciting and encouraging when we see such news in the clean energy field, it just goes to show that we are still in the early stages of what the possibilities are and that our own creative minds have no boundaries. Congratulations to the team at Suzhou University!

A Contentious Debate: Green Energy versus Green Space/EcoRI

This is a great article highlighting what is becoming a key debate--should we knock down trees, forest, to build renewables?  What should a good siting plan look like for clean energy?

We believe stripping land is a bad decision.  There's too many other options available that do not carry a high environmental costs.  Let's stop doing this.

 Some 60 acres of forestland in western Cranston were clear-cut to make room for a 60,000-panel solar facility. (Douglas Doe)
Some of the  60 acres of forestland in western Cranston were clear-cut to make room for a 60,000-panel solar facility. (Douglas Doe)

Rhode Island is currently paying for the expansion of its renewable-energy portfolio with trees and farms. Does that really mean the state is going green?

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Scott Millar has shared the numbers over and over again. Rhode Island’s forests absorb, on average, 88 tons of carbon dioxide per acre. With about 400,000 acres of forest in the state, that’s 35 million tons of carbon sequestered annually for free — the emissions equivalent of 6 million cars.
The state’s forests, however, are being felled indiscriminately to build, for example, an office park in Johnston, a casino in Tiverton, a possible fossil-fuel power plant in Burrillville and, in an ironic twist, solar arrays in rural locations.
Rhode Island’s expanding renewable-energy sprawl has Millar, manger of community technical assistance for Grow Smart Rhode Island, some municipal planners, such as Exeter’s Ashley Sweet, and others concerned.
“Renewable energy is a great thing, but we’re cutting down trees and eating up farmland for green energy that ends up being not that green,” Sweet said. “We shouldn’t be relaxing restrictions. Renewable energy makes everyone feel good and that we should be supporting this. But developers want to blow open ordinances to do it.”
Renewable energy does need southern New England’s support, but people like Millar and Sweet and organizations such as Grow Smart and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island believe where these projects are sited needs to be a big part of the equation.
“We’re such a small state we need to use our land area more effectively,” Millar said. “Our rural-urban edge is vital and we need to protect that. We need to protect our natural resources. We need large blocks of forest, but we are slowly losing these spots.”
 The clear-cutting of 60 acres in Cranston also included the blasting of rock and the operation of a quarry for about three months. (Douglas Doe)
Cranston resident Douglas Doe has documented the destruction of forestland in his neighborhood, to make room for 60,000 solar panels. He said site preparation work, including the clear-cutting of some 60 acres, for the Gold Meadow Farms solar array off Lippitt Avenue, which abuts permanently protected open space, began last September. The work has left the site’s soil heavily compacted.
“A massive front loader grabbed the trees and a saw cut through it,” the Cranston Conservation Commission member said. “Then logging trucks spent the next two months coming and going.”
After the trees were cleared, Doe said site preparation turned into a gravel operation for about three months, complete with gravel crushers and conveyor belts. The blasts, seven in all, started in December. More trucks, this time filled with crushed stone, started entering and exiting.
“It was a big, old forest with boulders and ledge,” Doe said. “Once they removed the trees, they exposed a huge vein of rock and ledge, and then the blasting began. They blasted right up to the edge of the wetlands.”
Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) cited the owner of the property, DSM Realty Corp., for significant noncompliance for allowing the unauthorized alteration of freshwater wetlands.
Other utility-scale solar projects are in the works in Cranston, such as some 50 acres of panels on a 75-acre agricultural tract on Hope Road.
Mayor Allan Fung told the Cranston Herald last year that he wants “Cranston to be the lead in the state in solar power.”
Doe said the city’s rush to be a solar leader has changed neighborhoods and ruined landscapes.
“The mayor can’t wait to get out there with his golden scissors,” Doe said....