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The Future of Fuel Cells
( 0 Votes )
Monday, 25 August 2014 19:23
Everywhere, USA, August 2014—Fuel cells have been around awhile, but are still little more than science fiction at our fingertips. Is driving a car loaded with these babies really any greener than conventional gas-powered internal combustion cars?

A decade ago cars powered by fuel cells seemed like the future of green automotive travel, but many analysts now think otherwise.

These futuristic cars run on hydrogen fuel and emit only heat and water vapor. The drive train is powered by electricity generated by mixing on-board hydrogen with airborne oxygen. No greenhouse gases are emitted. The renewable fuel can be produced domestically. Environmentalists love them. 
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Wildfires and the Environment
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Wednesday, 30 July 2014 17:43
Everywhere, U.S.A., July 2014—This month the smart folks at EarthTalk respond to a question many of us are probably asking: Why are wildfires on the increase and what can be done to stop them from happening?                                                                            

There’s no question that wildfires are on the increase across the American West and other fire-prone regions of the world. And most environmental leaders agree that global warming is largely to blame. In a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from the University of Utah analyzed a database of large wildfires in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2011. They found a significant increase in the number of large fires and/or the area covered by the blazes. From Nebraska to California, the number of large wildfires increased sevenfold per year over the study period, with the total area burned increasing by 90,000 acres a year, on average.
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Fuel for Discussion
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Tuesday, 01 April 2014 20:17
Everywhere, USA, March 2014—Does it really matter what kind of fuel we use to power our lives? Must we choose between the lesser of evils? As always, it’s best to define terms before engaging in meaningful debate. Here again the science geeks at Earth Talk, a feature of The Environmental Magazine, answer a key question to inform one end of the discussion around the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:

What are “dirty fuels” and why are they so called?

The term “dirty fuels” refers to fuels derived from tar sands, oil shale or liquid coal. Just like their more conventional fossil fuel counterparts such as petroleum and coal, they can be turned into gasoline, diesel, and other energy sources. And they can generate extreme amounts of particulate pollution, carbon emissions, and ecosystem destruction during their lifecycles from production to consumption.
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The $64,000 question
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Tuesday, 11 February 2014 19:27
Everywhere, USA, February 2014—Hoax or fact? Is the planet truly heating up or is global warming a cruel joke foisted upon an unbelieving public by science nerds?

Often, it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes the difference. What if scientists never mentioned the presumed root cause (elevated temps) but raised the flag instead as severe climate change? Here the science geeks at Earth Talk, a feature of The Environmental Magazine, answer the question of the century:

Does the fact that we’ve had such a cold and snowy winter mean that global warming might not be such a big problem after all?
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Ocean Sprawl
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Tuesday, 21 January 2014 20:58
Coastal USA, January 2014—We are all familiar by now with “urban sprawl”—the uncontrolled spread of urban development into areas beyond the city. But environmentalists warn that the next frontier in sprawl is on the high seas, where the proliferation of fishing, shipping, tourism, resource extraction, energy development, military exercises and other human activity has begun to call into question just how vast our oceans really are.

According to the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), our oceans are already under siege from problems like pollution, overfishing and acidification. Add to this the increased industrial activity off-shore—which leads to so-called “ocean sprawl”. These factors will jeopardize the food, jobs and recreation we have come to depend on the oceans to provide. It’s hard to believe, but true: With all the planning that goes into various types of development and human activity on land that our oceans are still considered like the Wild West once was: Different entities staking claims on huge stretches of territory for their own purposes.
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Saving the Oceans, Feeding the World
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Wednesday, 11 June 2014 20:43
Everywhere, Planet Earth, June 2014—Hunger is a growing problem around the world, in both developing and developed countries. As our population continues to rise, the amount of arable land per capita is declining and climate change is either drying out or flooding many formerly productive agricultural belts. It’s a combination that makes it more and more difficult to keep up with the growing demand for food. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that we must produce 70 percent more food globally if we are to feed the world’s increasing numbers of hungry people in the coming decades.

While more efficient agricultural practices can help, conservationists are increasingly looking to the ocean as a potential way out of our hunger woes. According to Oceana, a leading non-profit dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans and marine diversity, wild seafood requires no fresh water; produces little carbon dioxide; doesn’t use up any arable land; and provides healthy, lean protein at a cost per pound lower than beef, chicken, lamb, and pork – making it accessible to the world’s poor.
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Trade You for a Cap
( 0 Votes )
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 19:59
Everywhere, USA, March 2014—What are the odds? Can we expect the U.S. Congress to garner enough bi-partisan support to take on any environmental issues? Or might the states take the lead?

If “cap and trade” has worked so well in Europe for reducing greenhouse gas emissions there, why haven’t we tried something similar here in the U.S.?

“Cap-and-trade,” whereby big polluters must pay to emit greenhouse gases against a capped total amount that is reduced over time, has been in effect across the European Union (EU) since 2005. This so-called Emissions Trading System (ETS) requires 11,000 of the largest electric and industrial facilities in 28 European countries to participate. Some 45 percent of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions are regulated under the system. Proponents say the ETS has succeeded in keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check and making Europe a global leader on climate. The EU reports that, by 2020, emissions from sectors covered by ETS will be 21 percent lower than they were in 2005 and 43 percent lower by 2030.
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Whiz-Bang Thermostats
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Tuesday, 21 January 2014 21:32
Everywhere USA, January 2014—Spending $200 or more to replace that older, still functioning thermostat with a new whiz-bang “smart” variety might seem like a waste of money, but it can be one of the best small investments a homeowner can make, given the potential for energy and cost savings down the line.

The coolest of the bunch is the Nest. It was created by former Apple employees who had been instrumental in designing the original iPod and iPhone years earlier. This simple-looking round thermostat is reminiscent of old-school instruments that one would manually adjust by turning the temperature dial. But the auto-awake feature that turns on the bright blue digital display when someone walks nearby gives the Nest away as an ultra-modern piece of high tech gadgetry.

The Nest’s software “learns” the habits in a given space by logging when inhabitants tend to be home and awake and noting when they tend to turn up or down the heat—and then sets a heating/cooling schedule accordingly. Owners can also program the Nest, which connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, to heat up or cool down the house at a set schedule or go into “away” mode from any web browser or smart phone.
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Tips on Going Green
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013 16:59
Everywhere, USA, August 2013—There has never been a better time to renovate green, given the abundance of Earth-friendly building material choices as well as contractors well-versed in energy- and resource-efficiency.

Many homeowners don’t realize that they can save money in the long run by heading in the direction of this color (meaning sustainable, recycled materials primarily). Despite the upfront cost, green materials and strategies will lower utility bills and reduce maintenance and replacement costs.
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