The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
SEATTLE (AP) — These aren’t your typical loos. One uses microwave energy to transform human waste into electricity. Another captures urine and uses it for flushing. And still another turns excrement into charcoal.
They are part of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation competition to reinvent the toilet for the 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to modern sanitation.
PITTSBURGH — In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
Pressure is increasing on the federal government to put a price on carbon emissions, something it has proposed but not yet implemented.
The latest salvo comes from the International Energy Agency, whose executive director Maria van der Hoeven told a Toronto audience Monday that pricing carbon is one of the key elements to ensure that what people pay for energy reflects its true costs. That must be done if the world is to move toward a sustainable energy future, she said.
Absent some profound shift in our penchant for burning coal, oil and gas, the Earth is expected to warm as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years, causing more weather-related destruction.
It’s only responsible to force a shift away from fossil fuels by enacting a carbon tax. The U.S., which accounts for about 19 percent of global emissions today, should take the lead in doing so as part of broader tax reform.
Urban soils have the potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to new research published in this month’s edition of Science of the total environment.
In a speech given at Dartmouth College at the beginning of this month, US Lead Climate Negotiator Todd Stern caused some consternation in the media by opening up the subject of the global two degree Celsius target. Bylines such as “US Abandons 2° Target” appeared soon after, to the extent that a further statement was made two days later by Todd Stern to say;
“The U.S. continues to support this goal. We have not changed our policy.”
Reading the speech more closely, Stern had not dismissed the target at all nor questioned the necessity of making substantial reductions in global emissions. Rather, he had outlined a negotiating strategy which might bring nations to the table and actually get them to agree on something, rather than the status quo situation which has so far resulted in little progress.
Solar power is going communal in rural England.
A group of community members about 75 miles west of London have launched a citizen takeover of a 5 megawatt solar photovoltaic array, aiming to buy it back from the financiers who helped it get built on a farmer’s land a year ago. Through a share offering, the group is hoping to create the world’s largest cooperatively owned solar farm.
The good news: it is possible to cut carbon emissions enough to keep a lid on global warming. The bad news: economic and energy sector realities
The technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation to a level that limits global temperature rises to 2C above pre-industrial levels already exists, according to the International Energy Agency.And every dollar invested in clean energy will deliver three dollars in fuel cost savings by 2050.
A new report by U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzes decades of research and concludes that the climate of the Northeast has changed and is likely to change more. The report outlines the effects of climate change on multiple aspects of forests in the northeastern corner of the United States and eastern Canada and concludes with recommendations on adaptive and mitigating strategies for dealing with future effects. The report, “Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The impacts of climate change on forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada,” brings together science on all aspects of forest health, from changes in the water cycle to changes in trees, wildlife and nuisance species. The report focuses on established science and offers recommendations for decision-makers on steps that will make forests more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Using a new comprehensive index designed to assess the benefits to people of healthy oceans, scientists have evaluated the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. Their findings, published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature, show that the global ocean scores 60 out of 100 overall on the Ocean Health Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. The highest-scoring locations included densely populated, highly developed nations such as Germany, as well as uninhabited islands, such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific. Determining whether a score of 60 is better or worse than one would expect is less about analysis and more about perspective. “Is the score far from perfect with ample room for improvement, or more than half way to perfect with plenty of reason to applaud success? I think it’s both,” said lead author Ben Halpern, an ecologist at UC Santa Barbara. “What the Index does is help us separate our gut feelings about good and bad from the measurement of what’s happening.”
In our zest for cleanliness, have we permanently muddied our nation’s waters? A science team from Arizona State University, in collaboration with federal partners, has completed the first statewide analysis of freshwater bodies in Minnesota, finding widespread evidence of the presence of active ingredients of personal care products in Minnesota lakes, streams and rivers.
Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
• Climate Change News Digest
• Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
• Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”
At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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