15 Feb 2012:
Short-term Exposure to Pollutants
Increases Heart Attack Risk, Study Says
A new report says that even short-term exposure to major air pollutants increases the risk of heart attack
. In an analysis of more than 100 studies conducted worldwide, researchers from the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center found that increased exposure to pollutants — including fine particles, coarse particles, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide — consistently increased the health risks after even short-term exposure, or less than seven days. While the risk from pollutant exposure was relatively small, compared with factors such as high blood pressure, the number of people breathing these pollutants worldwide is so large that a sizable number of people are at risk, the study said. In the case of fine particles, the researchers found that heart attacks increased 2.5 percent for every incremental increase in pollution levels. In other words, if fine particle levels reached 10 micrograms per cubic meter in one city, and 20 micrograms in another, the rate of heart attacks would be 2.5 percent greater in the second city, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
. Most of the pollutants are associated with the burning of fossil fuels for transportation or industry. In a separate study, MIT researchers found that air pollution associated with China’s steep industrial growth caused health care costs to jump from $22 billion in 1975 to $112 billion in 2005
13 Feb 2012:
Electric Vehicles in China
Pollute More Than Gas-Fueled Cars
The use of electric cars in China produces more particulate matter pollution than gasoline-fueled vehicles
, according to a new study. In an analysis of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, U.S. researchers found that the power generated to run electric cars produces significantly greater particulate matter emissions because 80 percent of China’s electricity comes from coal-burning power plants. While those plants are typically located far from population centers, the researchers nevertheless found that the difference in pollution is so great that electric vehicles are still more harmful to the public health per-kilometer traveled than conventional vehicles. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology
, emphasizes that electric vehicles are a cleaner option if powered by a clean energy source. “In China and elsewhere, it is important to focus on deploying electric vehicles in cities with cleaner electricity generation and focusing on improving emissions controls in higher polluting power sectors,” said Chris Cherry, a researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and lead author of the study.
10 Feb 2012:
Wastewater Reuse Could Increase
U.S. Supplies 27 Percent, Report Says
Advanced treatment of municipal wastewater could increase available water supplies in the U.S. by 27 percent, according to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences
. Of the 32 billion gallons of municipal wastewater discharged each day nationwide, about 12 billion gallons of effluent is emptied into an ocean or estuary, the report said. Existing treatment technologies would allow municipalities to reuse that water for a variety of purposes — including irrigation, industrial use and drinking water — while posing no increased risk of exposure to microbial or chemical contaminants than in some existing drinking water systems. As reported in the New York Times
, an increasing number of U.S. communities are utilizing wastewater reuse technologies — including a pilot plant in San Diego that produces about 1 million gallons of clean drinking water daily — or are considering it. According to the National Academy report, increased stress on water supplies as a result of climate change and population growth will require many municipalities to consider alternative sources of water.
17 Jan 2012:
China Sets First-Ever Cap
On Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Chinese government has ordered five cities and two provinces to set caps on greenhouse gas emissions
in preparation for a series of regional carbon markets. Last week, China’s National Development and Reform Commission urged Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen, as well as the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong, to set “overall emissions control targets
” and submit strategy proposals on how to achieve them. A plan developed by Guangdong — which commits the province to achieving 20 percent of its total energy consumption from non-fossil fuels by 2015 — has already been approved by the central government. The province must also cut its “carbon intensity,” or the CO2 emissions per unit of economic growth, by 19.5 percent. China as a whole, which has already passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.
16 Jan 2012:
Mandatory Roof Gardens Urged
As Solution to Singapore Flooding
A panel formed to study solutions to increased flooding in Singapore has urged the government to require green roofs
on new and retrofitted buildings. The 12-member panel, which was created after torrential rains caused flash flooding across eastern and central Singapore last year, said improved weather modeling and infrastructure improvements are needed to handle a surge in stormwater runoff caused by urbanization in Singapore. In the meantime, however, the panel urged simpler steps to reduce and delay flooding, including better storage tanks, porous pavements, and rain gardens. Such rooftop gardens, which are often added to reduce heat or for aesthetic reasons, can absorb six to 34 liters of water per square meter
and limit water flow, local contractors said. After flash floods inundated large areas of Singapore last June for the second consecutive year, a government official warned that the nation’s drainage system is not equipped to handle the region’s “changing” weather patterns
28 Dec 2011:
Map Projects When U.S. Cities
Will Achieve Grid Parity for Solar
If energy cost trends remain consistent — with the price of retail electricity rising and solar power falling — solar energy could become cheaper than power from the grid
in most major U.S. metropolitan areas by 2027,
according to a recent projection. In a new map published on the Energy Self-Reliant States website
, energy policy analyst John Farrell has predicted which U.S. cities will achieve so-called “grid parity” first — and the order in which other cities will follow through 2027. Farrell, a researcher with the group, Local Self-Reliance, based his projections on recent regional retail rates for electricity, which have seen the cost of solar energy decline by an average of 7 percent per year and the cost of retail electricity increase by 2 percent annually. If that trend holds, Farrell predicts that San Diego will become the first city to achieve grid parity, in 2013, followed by New York in 2015. By 2020, 17 metropolitan areas nationwide will have reached grid parity; the number will jump to more than 40 by 2027, he projects.
29 Nov 2011:
Map Shows Population Density
As Planet Reaches 7 Billion People
With the world’s population now surpassing 7 billion
, a Boston-based design firm has published a map illustrating the planet’s population density, including
detailed visualizations of the most densely populated cities. Dencity, created by Fathom Information Design
, uses circles of various sizes and hues to represent population density, with larger, darker circles showing areas with fewer people, and smaller, lighter circles representing the world’s most crowded cities and regions. China, home to eight of the world’s 20 most populated cities, contains a series of tightly packed orange and yellow dots. Likewise, the populous nations of India and Pakistan are almost uniformly dense until they reach political boundaries or geographic features, such as the Himalayas. Meanwhile, the larger, darkly hued dots illustrate less populated regions, including Saharan Africa and Siberia.
29 Nov 2011:
Carbon Sinks in Estuaries
Have Been Degraded by Industrial Activity
The ability of the world’s estuaries, salt marshes, and mangrove swamps to sequester carbon has been seriously degraded by industrial activity
, according to a study by Australian researchers. Scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney, examined layers of estuary sediment in Sydney’s Botany Bay for the past 6,000 years. They found that sea grass abundance has declined sharply, while quantities of micro-algae have soared. Increasing nitrogen deposition and pollution are the main culprits in destroying seagrass beds, which have the capacity to store as much as 100 times more carbon than micro-algae. The researchers dated the sediments using radiocarbon dating and determined the plant makeup of the Botany Bay estuary by examining isotopic ratios of seagrass versus micro-algae. Reporting in the journal Global Change Biology
, lead researcher Peter Macreadie said the results show the importance of preserving and restoring so-called “blue carbon habitats” in wetlands and estuaries. The partial loss of these carbon sinks has “severely hampered the ability of nature to reset the planet’s thermostat.”
21 Nov 2011:
Garbage Pickers Protest
New Wave of Trash Incinerators
A growing coalition of poor workers who earn a living by scouring trash heaps for recyclables in the world’s poorest cities are protesting new incinerators being built
to convert that trash into electricity. While the UN has encouraged the incinerators as a means of generating electricity and preventing methane emissions — and the Kyoto Protocol provides nations carbon credits for such projects — many workers say they depend on picking recyclable materials from the waste heaps for their livelihoods. In New Delhi this month, hundreds of waste workers gathered outside UN offices to protest 21 proposed incinerator projects for which India hopes to receive carbon credits. Similar coalitions are forming in Brazil, South Africa, and Colombia. In India alone, an estimated 1.7 million people earn a living by picking through garbage.
21 Oct 2011:
Database Highlights Projects
That Convert Runoff into Public Resources
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a public database
of 479 projects that use green infrastructure techniques to divert and process urban stormwater before it reaches rivers, lakes, estuaries and other waterways. By using such methods as rain gardens, green roofs, and bioretention — which replicates the uptake and storage of chemicals and sediment by wetlands — designers say the projects have improved the quality of water in their cities and towns, while converting urban stormwater into a valuable resource for communities. Most of the projects listed — including the restoration of an Atlanta brownfield site into a public park and the transformation of a dilapidated Bronx playground into a recreation area that captures and filters stormwater — represent redevelopment or retrofits that have returned unproductive or out-of-use space to the public. Significantly, ASLA found that the deployment of such “green infrastructure” strategies tended to lower development costs, primarily by doing away with expensive, hard runoff-treatment options.
10 Oct 2011:
Urban Growth in China
Will Test Social Welfare System, Report Says
A new report predicts that more than 100 million people will move from China’s countryside into cities and towns over the next decade, a wave of urbanization that could strain the nation’s social welfare system. According to the government’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, China’s total urban population will likely reach more than 800 million by 2020
, compared with about 670 million in 2010, as an increasing number of rural residents seek higher incomes in China’s cities. The report, based on a survey of migrant populations in 106 cities, warns that China’s “overall urban capacity” must be strengthened to handle such a surge in population. Even after migrant workers move into cities and towns, they are typically still registered as rural residents, and thus receive little or no social security and must pay high fees to send their children to public schools. “The migrant population strongly desires to be absorbed into the areas where they live, but there is a stark conflict between supply and demand
of urban public services,” the report warns.
05 Oct 2011:
China’s CO2 Emissions Growth
Mainly Driven By Construction, Study Says
A new study says the explosive growth in China’s construction sector is now driving the country’s steep increase in carbon emissions
, reversing a long-term trend in which consumption and exports were the dominant factors. According to the study, published in journal Environmental Science & Technology
, increased capital investment in infrastructure projects has fueled an expansion of the energy-intensive construction industry in recent years. Until 2002, the most critical factor driving Chinese CO2 emissions was the growth of consumption and factory production for exports, said Jan C. Minx of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the study. From 2002 to 2007, however, researchers found that improved energy efficiency actually offset the rise in emissions from increased consumption. But emissions continued to skyrocket during that period — with the average annual CO2 emissions growth rivaling the UK’s total CO2 emissions— largely because of growth in the construction sector and related energy-intensive products such as steel and concrete.
15 Sep 2011:
Empire State Building
Becomes The U.S.’s Tallest LEED Structure
The Empire State Building in New York City has been awarded LEED Gold certification
following a two-year retrofit that is expected to cut energy use in the landmark building by 38 percent by 2013. Two years
Empire State Building
ago, the owners of the 102-story building began renovations they say will cut energy costs by $4.4 million a year, including a retrofit of windows, improved insulation, and renovations to the cooling plant located in the basement. Malkin Holdings, which supervises the building, also agreed to buy 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually from Green Mountain Energy, a renewable energy and carbon offset retailer. Over 15 years, the renovations are expected to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons. The green upgrades are part of a $550 million initiative known as the Empire State ReBuilding Program, which includes a litany of sustainable practices, from the use of eco-friendly cleaning and pest control supplies to installation of meters that allow tenants to manage their own energy use. The tower is now the tallest building in the U.S. to receive LEED certification.
14 Sep 2011:
Majority of Big Companies
Adopt Climate Strategies, Survey Finds
A new survey conducted by the UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project finds that for the first time a majority of the world’s largest public corporations are including steps to combat climate change as part of their business strategies
. In a survey of 396 of the world’s 500 largest companies, 68 percent said they now have strategies for dealing with climate change, compared with 48 percent last year. And 45 percent of respondents reported reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of climate strategies, compared with 19 percent last year. The Carbon Disclosure Project
also found a correlation between companies with focused carbon strategies and stock market performance, with those companies addressing the issue earning double the average return from 2005 to 2011. “Companies yet to take action on climate change will have to work hard to remain competitive as we head towards an increasingly resource constrained, low-carbon economy,” said Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project. The survey found that the energy sector had the lowest proportion of companies setting emissions targets in the latest survey, while the utilities sector delivered the best climate change performance.
22 Aug 2011:
Growth of Urban Areas
Poses Long-Term Threats, Study Says
A new study says the explosive growth of urban areas worldwide over the next two decades poses significant risks to human populations and the global environment
, from the loss of agricultural land and wildlife habitat to increased vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Using satellite data on urban growth, the study calculates that the world’s total urban area quadrupled in size from 1970 to 2000 — an increase of about 22,400 square miles. By 2030, that urban footprint will expand by another 590,000 square miles to accommodate the more than 1.47 billion additional people expected to be living in the world’s cities, according to the study, conducted by researchers from four U.S universities — Yale, Arizona State, Texas A&M, and Stanford. “[Cities are] going to be growing and expanding into forests, biological hotspots, savannas, coastlines — sensitive and vulnerable places,” said Karen Seto, an associate professor of urban development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE
18 Apr 2011:
Global Market for E-Scooters
and E-Motorcycles to Surge, Report Says
The global market for electric motorcycles and scooters is expected to surge
, with the number of vehicles projected to jump from 17 million in 2011 to more than 138 million by 2017, according to a new report. The two-wheel electric vehicles, which are already popular across Asia, will become increasingly common elsewhere as the rising cost of petroleum-based fuels and government incentives will drive market growth, according to the report by Pike Research. “They are relatively low cost to own, do not take a lot of space, and are easy to maintain, therefore making them attractive for city dwellers,” said Dave Hurst, a senior analyst for the Colorado-based clean-technology research firm. While the market for electric scooters will be six times greater than electric motorcycles in most markets, e-motorcycles are expected to be the more popular choice in some parts of the world, including North America, because of their higher speed and greater range. According to the analysis, the growth of electric vehicles will spur an increased demand for batteries, with the market for lithium ion batteries for e-motorcycles expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 24 percent from 2011 to 2017, and the market for lithium ion batteries for e-scooters predicted to increase at 19 percent.
12 Jan 2011:
Effects of Poverty, Pollution To Be Researched in Long-term EPA Study
The U.S. government will award $7 million in grants for research into the cumulative health effects of environmental pollution and social factors
such as stress and poor nutrition in low-income communities. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) typically limits its research to the effects of individual pollutants and chemicals, this initiative
will target neighborhoods that are exposed to multiple factors that scientists say can amplify the effects of toxic pollutants. The grants will support research into the combined effects of metals and stress on the central nervous system; disparities in air pollution risks; the effects of stress and traffic pollution on childhood asthma; and the reasons that some ethnic groups are more susceptible to environmental health risks. “This research could pave the way for more interdisciplinary work that is responsive to community concerns and environmental justice,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.
11 Jan 2011:
Study Evaluates Markets
For High-Speed Rail Systems in the U.S.
A new study identifies the high-speed rail corridors in the U.S. with the greatest potential
to attract ridership in the nation’s so-called “megaregions.” The study by the group America 2050 scores 7,870 potential rail
corridors using 12 critical factors, including population, employment concentrations, rail transit accessibility, and air travel markets. In addition to obvious potential markets such as New York to Washington and Los Angeles to San Diego, the study cites other megaregions with the potential to have well-developed high speed rail systems, including Chicago to Milwaukee and Dallas to Houston. The study encourages the federal government to conduct a similar evaluation to decide where investment in high speed rail systems should be concentrated. The study only considered rail lines that extend from 100 to 600 miles, a distance at which trains can compete with automobiles and aviation.
21 Dec 2010:
Digital Billboards Consume
Large Amounts of Energy, Analysis Shows
The growing number of digital billboards on U.S. roads and highways consume large amounts of energy
and are creating a wide variety of electronic waste, according to a new report. The new study says the typical digital billboard consumes about 30 times as much energy as the average American household. The digital billboards use more efficient LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting than traditional signs, but deploy so many of the LED bulbs on each billboard that energy use is high; traditional billboards use just one or two large bulbs to illuminate signs, according to the study
by Gregory Young, a Philadelphia-based urban planner. In addition, digital billboards are illuminated day and night, and require cooling systems that use more energy. And while LEDs, plasma and LCD screens are recyclable, reuse is not mandated, leading to a large surplus of “techno-waste,” said the study, published by the group Scenic America. The U.S. has roughly 800 digital billboards, compared with 450,000 traditional billboards. But use of the technology is expanding quickly, with more than 2,000 expected by 2012.
14 Dec 2010:
London’s New Black Cabs
Must Be Electric by 2020, Mayor Says
In a push to improve air quality in London, city officials will require that all new black taxi cabs be electric by 2020
. Under increased pressure to reduce the worst air pollution in Europe, London Mayor Boris Johnson says the city will refuse licenses
to any taxi older than 15 years beginning in 2012, a move that will remove about 1,200 black cabs from London’s roads. Beginning in 2013, the city will require that cabs undergo two emissions inspections annually. In Central London, vehicles account for about 80 percent of air pollution, with black cabs contributing about 20 percent of the emissions. The new policy in London comes as officials announced plans to install 4,000 new electric vehicle charging stations throughout the UK
, calling 2011 the “year of the electric car.”
08 Nov 2010:
Creating ‘Living’ Buildings
With Materials That Pull CO2 from Air
A new field, known as “ethical synthetic biology,” aims to combine chemistry, architecture, and climate science to construct buildings out of materials that extract CO2 from the atmosphere and convert the carbon into structural material
. For example, scientists at the University of Greenwich are exploring the possibility of using “protocells” — essentially bubbles of oil in watery fluids that are highly sensitive to light or chemicals — that pull carbon from the atmosphere to create a coral-like skin that would protect buildings. Neil Spiller, an architect and head of Greenwich's School of Architecture & Construction, said such protocells could possibly be used to create a limestone-like material that would petrify the pilings now supporting many of Venice’s buildings, slowing the city’s slide into the sea. At the University of Southern Denmark, researchers have succeeded in capturing carbon dioxide in solution and converting it into carbon-containing materials.“We want to use ethical synthetic biology to create large-scale, real world applications for buildings,” said Spiller.
29 Oct 2010:
China Makes Green Cars
A Priority in Latest Five-Year Plan
The Chinese auto industry will make development and production of electric and hybrid vehicles its top priority
over the next five years, according to its latest Five-year Plan. By 2015, China aims to sell 1 million “new-energy” automobiles, according to a report in People’s Daily
. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already announced that the government will invest more than 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) over the next decade to make China the world leader in green car production. Meanwhile, in the UK, where a government subsidy next year will shave £5,000 ($7,960) off the cost of new electric cars, a company predicts that the next generation of green cars could be charged wirelessly
with the same technology that charges electric toothbrushes. The company, HaloIPT, this week demonstrated how electric cars can be charged wirelessly by parking over a transmitter pad, and predicted that one day vehicles might be able to re-charge by using roads outfitted with electrical systems that charge cars as they travel.
14 Oct 2010:
Starbucks In Trial Study
To Begin Recycling Its Coffee Cups
Starbucks is testing a new recycling program
at its 86 locations in New York City, a nine-week trial that company officials hope will eventually lead to the recycling of the 3 billion cups used by the chain
annually in the U.S. The company has added separate recycling bins just for cups — and not other recyclables — that are then picked up by the same hauling company that collects the company’s cardboard recyclables each night. By including the cup pickup in the existing loads, the company will not have to add new truck routes, said Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact. The cups will be sent to a paper mill, where they will be converted into pulp used for paper towels and other products. During the trial, the company will test whether recycling the cups is profitable for the paper mill and whether the cups can be collected separately without customers tossing other trash into the cup recycling bin.
30 Sep 2010:
U.S. Home Energy Use
As High as in 1970s, Despite Advances
The average American household uses the same amount of energy it did in the early 1970s
, despite significant improvements in the efficiency of household appliances, according to a report in the Washington Post
. Even though appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators now use half the amount of energy that they did several decades ago, average household energy use has remained the same because houses have been getting bigger and because they now contain more power-hungry devices, such as computers, flat-screen televisions, video games, and digital video recorders. One sign of that growing demand from computers, TVs, and other gadgets is that while electricity accounted for 23 percent of an average household’s energy use in 1978, it now accounts for 42 percent, according to the Post
. Even though household energy use has essentially remained flat for the past 40 years, the number of households has increased significantly as the U.S. population has grown from 203 million in 1970 to nearly 310 million today, pushing up overall energy use.
23 Sep 2010:
Study Projects 4.7 Million
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations by 2015
As increasing numbers of electric vehicles enter the global market over the next few years, more than 4.7 million charging stations will be accessible worldwide by 2015
, with nearly 1 million of the those expected
in the U.S., according to a new study. Of the 974,000 charging stations predicted in the U.S., about 64 percent will be charging units in residences, according to Pike Research
. Across Asia and Europe, where multi-family housing is more common, only about 35 percent of charging stations will be residential, with a greater percentage of consumers relying on public or commercial stations to charge their vehicles, according to the study. In addition, North America will see a higher percentage of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which require less charging infrastructure because they have smaller battery packs and gasoline engines that allow vehicles greater range.
06 Jul 2010:
U.S. Government Introduces
Nation’s Largest ‘Zero-Energy’ Building
The U.S. government next month will open what it calls the nation’s largest zero-energy building
, a 222,000-square-foot structure on the campus of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory that designers say will consume 50 percent less energy than typical buildings and will generate whatever power is needed on-site. While solar panels will produce energy for the building, a research facility located on the department’s Golden, Colo. campus, the building is also designed to utilize techniques and technologies that employ natural light and the planet’s tendency to heat and cool. The narrow design will allow daylight to enter all work spaces; “smart” sensory technology will alert
U.S. Department of Energy
The new “zero energy” building
occupants when they should open or close windows based on indoor and outdoor temperatures; thick, three-layered walls will control indoor temperatures by absorbing outdoor heat during the day; and a low-energy radiant system will control temperatures through a series of pipes inside the floors that circulate hot or cold water depending on the season. “We went back to simple design techniques that were used before there were electric lights and before we had air conditioning compressors,” said John Andary, a principal at Stantec, the project's design consultant.
15 Mar 2010:
New London Tower Will
Generate 8 Percent Of Its Own Electricity
A new 42-floor London skyscraper will be the world's first building to incorporate wind turbines in the design
, an innovation developers say will generate 8 percent of the building’s electricity needs. The Strata Tower, a 408-unit apartment building scheduled to open in July, will be topped with three 19-kilowatt turbines — each with five 29.5-foot blades designed to suck wind from various angles and accelerate it through tubes, generating as much as 50 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. It will also generate about £16,000 to £17,000 annually through the nation’s new feed-in tariff, the developers say. The £13-million tower, which developers hope will be a model in sustainable construction, will also utilize natural ventilation rather
Linda Nylind/The Guardian
The Strata Tower
than air conditioning. By 2019, government law will require carbon neutral design for all new buildings. Green building advocates described the Strata design as pioneering, but questioned whether wind turbines would become common in skyscraper projects. “I doubt wind power will become a common feature in high-rise inner-city projects,” said Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council. “But without this type of bold innovation, how would we ever know?”
20 Jan 2010:
‘Eco-bling’ in the U.K.;
CO2-Spewing Lawns in the U.S.
Installing wind turbines or solar panels on homes that are not well-insulated or energy-efficient amounts to little more than “eco-bling” that makes owners feel good but does little to reduce carbon emissions
, according to a study by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. To meet the U.K.’s goal of making all new homes and buildings carbon neutral by 2020 and slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the report said, the government should focus on making new buildings highly energy-efficient, retrofitting older buildings to improve their energy efficiency, and investing in large-scale wind and solar projects. The report said that for wind turbines installed on homes to produce sizeable amounts of electricity, the turbines would have to be so large that their vibrations would damage residential structures. Meanwhile, a new study, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
, had some sobering news for homeowners hoping to reduce their carbon footprints: The study, conducted by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, said that the fertilization, mowing, and leaf-blowing of lawns produces four times as many greenhouse gases as the lawns themselves absorb
22 Oct 2009:
Food Recycling Program
A Major Success in San Francisco
San Francisco’s new food recycling program — the first in the U.S. that requires all food waste from homes, apartments, businesses, and restaurants to be recycled and composted — has been enthusiastically embraced by city residents
, officials say. Although the program was officially launched on Wednesday, city officials say residents have been recycling food for weeks and are already setting aside about half of the city’s 500 tons of daily food waste. The city requires residents and businesses to place food scraps in sealed buckets, and then collects the buckets and trucks them to San Francisco’s Organics Annex, where the food waste is composted. The compost is sold as fertilizer to area farms and vineyards. Seattle was the first U.S. city to require all households to recycle food waste, but San Francisco’s law covers businesses and apartments. Jared Blumenthal, the city’s environmental officer, said residents have strongly backed the food recycling plan because — overwhelmed by bad environmental news — this gives them something concrete to do. “This is not rocket science,” he said. “This is putting some food scraps into a different pile and turning them into compost.”
10 Jul 2009:
New Bus Systems Reduce
Traffic, Pollution in Developing Cities
Large, low-emission buses being introduced in developing cities from Mexico City to Ahmedabad, India are reducing congestion on crowded roadways and cutting pollution and carbon dioxide emissions
, all at a much lower cost than constructing subways. In Bogota, Colombia, city leaders took control of two to four center lanes of major boulevards for the TransMilenio rapid transit system. Small walls isolate the “tracks” of the bus lines from other traffic, and passengers are able to board the long, segmented buses from the center platforms of modern stations. Since 2001, the TransMilenio bus system has allowed the city to remove 7,000 small private buses from roadways and has slashed fuel use by more than 59 percent, according to a New York Times
report. As a result, TransMilenio last year became the only large transportation system allowed by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits. Climate researchers say that emissions reductions related to transportation will become increasingly urgent in coming decades, particularly in the developing world. Projects similar to Bogota’s TransMilenio are planned in Cape Town, Mexico City, and Jakarta, Indonesia.