Green in the News
Keep up to date with the latest in green technology, products, and policy, gathered from worldwide news sources.
Join In for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 19 2016
Join the rest of the world Saturday evening, March 19, 2016 from 8:30 PM local time. Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet, and is organised by WWF. Engaging a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues, Earth Hour was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.
Earth Hour is a symbolic act where people and businesses turn off their lights for one hour. But there is much, much more. Earth Hour's full ambition is for people to take action beyond the hour. Whether it’s supporting a crowdfunding or crowdsourcing campaign or getting involved in Earth Hour campaigns in their own country, or starting the movement in their own community. The vision is always to do more, so make the light switch the beginning of your journey.
Earth Hour is a great uniting act to turn our focus towards the Earth's environmental issues, and inspires us to work harder to achieve the goals we need to reach in order to protect the ecosystem and all the plants and animals on this beautiful planet that depend on it.
Earth Hour is a charitable organisation based out of Singapore. Our mission is uniting people to protect the planet. We are an open source movement organised by WWF and volunteer organisations worldwide.
Plastic Microbeads from Cosmetic Products Found in Great Lakes
January 23, 2015
Researchers are finding large amounts of tiny plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes as well as other waterways around the country.
These plastic microbeads are commonly found in many cosmetic products, from facial scrubs and soaps to body washes and toothpaste. The tiny beads are used as exfoliants, promising cleaner, more healthy looking skin.
The issue is that these tiny plastic pieces, up to 50,000 in one bottle of cleaner, are too small to be filtered by water treatment plants, which allows them to pass into waterways. Once there, they are confused for food by aquatic life.
Many companies are voluntarily removing these plastic microbeads from their products, and Illinois recently became the first state to ban their use. Other states have introduced legislation to ban them.
Until they are completely phased out, look for ingredients on cosmetic products such as polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyethylene. Read more about the problem, and natural alternatives, HERE.
U.S. & China Reach Historic Climate Change Agreement
Nov. 12, 2014
In a surprise announcement in China, President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping announced a major new agreement to slash both countries' climate changing carbon emissions.
"This is an ambitious goal, but it's an achievable goal," Obama said. "It will double the pace at which we're reducing carbon pollution in the United States. It puts us on a path to achieving the deep emissions reductions by advanced economies that the scientific community says is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change."
The White House describes the new agreement:"The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26 percent - 28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28 percent.
"China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030."
To read more about this historic new development, click HERE.
New Energy Star Certification for Residential Clothes Dryers
May 29, 2014
Energy Star, the EPA program that promotes energy-efficient appliances and products, has announced that it will begin certifying residential clothes dryers starting with 2015 models.
New Energy Star clothes dryers will be required to be at least 20% more energy-efficient than the minimum usage requirement established by Energy Star. Models meeting this new standard will be clearly labeled with the Energy Star logo to promote their energy-efficient qualities.
The new Energy Star clothes dryer certification will apply to gas, electric, and compact dryer models.
This is an important development, as home clothes dryers, whether gas or electric, use tremendous amounts of energy. Electric clothes dryers are responsible for nearly 6% of all U.S. electricity usage.
Quoting the EPA, "if all residential clothes dryers sold in the U.S. meet these new requirements, the utility cost savings will grow to more than $1.5 billion each year and more than 22 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented." - See more at: http://green-home-product-source.com/energy-star-clothes-dryers.html#sthash.mZHeeCGH.dpuf
Read more about this announcement HERE.
New U.N. Climate Report Paints Bleak Picture For Planet
April 1, 2014
A new report from the U.N. 's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that climate change is already affecting the earth's ecosystems, and will increasingly cause more disruptions to human activity.
Among the impacts of climate change that are already occurring are floods, prolonged drought, , heat waves, and gradually shrinking crop yields.
Unless rapid and immediate steps are taken to reduce the use of fossil fuels worldwide, the Report indicates that these climate impacts will continue to worsen.
The Report also calls for a transition from climate change awareness to active implementation of adaptive technologies and processes to help humanity adjust and mitigate the worst of climate change's effects.
Other highlights of the new Report include the increasing threats to the world's poorest citizens, saying “climate change is expected to have a relatively greater impact on the poor as a consequence of their lack of financial resources, poor quality of shelter, reliance on local ecosystem services, exposure to the elements, and limited provision of basic services and their limited resources to recover from an increasing frequency of losses through climate events."
Also noted are the discrepancies between the amount of money needed to immediately begin transitioning to lower-carbon economies: "The World Bank estimate that it will cost the world $70 billion to $100 billion a year to adapt to the changing climate by 2050 (but notes that these figures are “highly preliminary”). Yet actual spending in 2012 was estimated to be around $400 million." These large price tags will be out of reach for many of the world's poorest countries, putting them at greater risk of climate change's worst consequences.
The bottom line: Climate change is already having severe effects on the planet, which will continue to worsen, requiring immediate and extensive actions.
The entire report can be viewed HERE.
SolarCity and Best Buy Team Up To Offer Solar to Customers
March 12, 2014
Known as a third party leasing agreement, the deal allows customers to lease a complete solar power system from a provider (SolarCity).
Leasing a solar system rather than purchasing it outright eliminates the high upfront cost associated with solar, often seen as a roadblock to renewable energy for many homeowners. The supplier installs and maintains the system over time, while the customer pays a lease fee each monthy for the power. This monthly rate is typically lower than what their traditional power bill would be, making renewable solar energy an attractive alternative.
By partnering with Best Buy, SolarCity will be able to take advantage of a well-known, already existing retail network, and allow it to reach out to a large number of customers, many of whom would probably not be aware of the solar lease service available to them.
SolarCity is available in a small number of states currently, and the Best Buy agreement will only be available to customers in California, Arizona, New York, and Oregon for now, with plans to expand the program into more states once their regulations are altered to allow for the lease of solar energy.
2013 the Fourth-Hottest Year on Record: NOAA
Jan. 21, 2014
Despite the frigid cold of the polar vortex that enveloped much of the country in December, global temperature averages continue to climb as a result of climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 2013 is on record as the fourth hottest year since modern records started in 1880.
2013's average global temperature was 58.12 degrees Fahrenheit, tying it with 2003. NOAA and NASA both report that 9 out of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the 21st century, with 2010 being the hottest year ever.
December 2013, in spite of record cold temperatures in North America, is now on record as the 3rd warmest December on record since 1880. This is evidence that even though regions may experience below normal temperatures, global average temperatures continue to be at record-setting highs.
The following video, provided by NASA, shows the steady rise in global temperatures over the past 130 years:
Midwest Wind Power Now Cheaper Than Natural Gas
Dec. 10, 2013
If you live in a Midwestern state like we do, you know how windy it can get. As utilities scale up develop of wind turbine farms in this wind-rich part of the nation, the cost of the energy produced from wind continues to drop.
As the price of wind energy continues to plummet, it is becoming more and more competitive with more polluting forms of energy, such as coal and natural gas.
Stephen Byrd, Morgan Stanley’s Head of North American Equity Research for Power & Utilities and Clean Energy, says that deals are currently being made with wind farms for energy "as low as $25 per megawatt." This compares to energy from variable natural gas plants in the same region at around $30 per megawatt.
Byrd also reports that wind energy in the Midwest region is alco becoming very competitive with coal-powered plants as well as nuclear energy, especially in times of high average wind speeds.
The Sound From a Michigan Wind Farm
Nov. 26, 2013
One of the main complaints people use to fight the placement of wind turbines is the large amount of noise the turbines create. The complaints tend to die down once people get a chance to hear them in real-life use; the payments that landowners receive from the utilities for the turbine placement on their property tends to settle things down as well. Michigan Radio visited the largest wind turbine farm in Michigan, near Gratiot, and talked to some of the locals about the reaction to them. They also recorded the sound from the turbines from directly underneath; judge for yourself whether the noise is acceptable or not.
Read and listen to the news piece and listen to the wind turbines HERE.
2014 Honda Accord is the Green Car of the Year
Nov. 22, 2013
The Los Angeles Auto Show is underway, and Thursday morning the Show awarded its Green Car of the Year to the 2014 Honda Accord.
Reducing the climate-changing emissions associated with transportation is critical; concepts such as increasing public transportation and reducing the total number of miles driven are the best ways to do this, but the personal automobile has to be considered as it is the most prevalent form of transport in the country. The car simply isn't going away anytime soon, so making improvements in mileage and emissions is very important. The Green Car of the Year Award recognizes automakers who are leading the way towards a more efficient, cleaner transportation future.
This year, no electric vehicles (EV) were nominated. This years' nominees were: Audi A6 TDI, BMW 328d, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and the Honda Accord, which comes in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
The Honda Accord Hybrid model has an MPG rating of 47 city, 46 highway, impressive for a mid-size sedan popular with a majority of Americans. The plug-in hybrid version has the highest MPGe of any mid-size sedan at 115 MPGe. For comparison, the conventional gas Accord with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) has an MPG rating of 27 city, 36 highway.
For more information on the Honda Accord Green Car of the Year from the Los Angeles Times, click HERE.
Music Improves Solar Panel Efficiency by 50%
Nov. 13, 2013
Researchers have found that a type of experimental new solar panel works much more efficiently when music is played nearby.
The team of British researchers is working on a solar panel variant made from zinc oxide; cheaper and more flexible than traditional silicon panels.
While currently much less efficient at converting sunlight to power than silicon panels, these researchers discovered that the zinc oxide can form nanoscale rods capable of generating electricity from external vibrations, including the sound vibrations formed when music is played.
Any kind of sound vibration improves the zinc oxide efficiency, but the greatest improvement, over 50%, came when the panels were exposed to rock and pop music.
While it's too early to tell whether these new panels will work in large-scale applications, their lower costs and ability to create power from sound may someday make them perfect for use in noisy urban environments.
Read more about these rockin' new solar panels HERE.
Greenhouse Gases in Atmosphere Reach Record Levels in 2012
Nov. 7, 2013
According to the World Meteorogical Organization (WMO), levels of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere reached levels in 2012 never before seen in recorded history. This continues a steady and accelerating climb in the gases responsible for climate change.
The WMO reports that between 1990 and 2012, the radiative forcing (the warming effect of climate change) of the planet's atmosphere rose by 32%. The study finds that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for 80% of this rise.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud states that the study "highlights yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change.”
Jarraud also says that " if we continue with ‘business as usual,’ global average temperatures may rise as much as 4.6 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. "This would have devastating consequences."
The study also notes a rise in atmospheric levels of nitrous oxide, which is responsible for ozone depletion.
Overall, the study reinforces the need for immediate and substantive actions to reduce levels of these gases to avert serious impacts to global economies and human health overall in the decades to come. Read more at Common Dreams HERE.
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