greening it up

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greening it up – wed 16 july 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-07-16 10:02

Inspirational bike-sharing programme in Paris. Almost 1500 bike stations are spread around the city of Paris with over 20 000 bicycles and 3 million subscribers. They’ve saved roughly 10 million kilometres of car trips. Considering the rising price of petrol, this is something cities the world over should be considering. [treehugger] Other than walking, there is no more earth-friendly mode of transportation than a bicycle. Bikes have an incredibly low manufacturing footprint when compared to a motorized vehicle. They’re cheap to operate, don’t pollute the air, and provide more miles per calorie of energy than any mode of getting around known to humankind. Find out how to pick a great used bike. [lighterfootstep]

V Schalkwyk comes down on polluters of the atmosphere. After blustering away at the ineptitude of the G8 summit [reuters], the minister of the environment is now punishing pollution of the


greening it up – 07 july 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-07-07 10:04

Green’s 12-year freedom from the grid. For the last 12 years, Rod Green, a retired geophysicist, has enjoyed freedom from the national electricity grid, and is now enjoying freedom from Eskom's load-shedding and unscheduled power interruptions to his farming operations in the Klein Karoo. [engineeringnews]

SA cleans up its glass act. The Glass Recycling Company together with the glass industry has stepped in to deal with the glass bottle overflow since Enviroglass stopped collecting glass for recycling recently. So far, about 500 bottle banks in Gauteng and 300 in Western Cape have been identified and divided into regions for emptying and cleaning. In the long term, a plan to fill the gap left by Reclam and Enviroglass will be worked out by the glass industry and The Glass Recycling Company. [business day]

Retailers & consumers should encourage sustainable packaging says Tom McLaughlin, Woolworths Foods Group manager for the environment, who described the packaging industry’s strained relationship with the environment as “a complete disconnection from the earth’s natural cycles”. Consumers, he said, can do their part by recycling and composting waste. Customers should also be more critical of the packaging and avoid purchasing overpacked items. (about time, don’t you think!) [engineeringnews]

Africa centre stage at G8 summit. African poverty tops the agenda at the start of a three-day summit in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The G8 has invited seven African leaders to join the opening day of its annual summit, that closely links poverty with the rising food and fuel prices and global warming. This summit is regarded as the most important G8 summit in a decade. [mail&guardian]

Biofuels no longer an ‘obligation’. EU ministers have informally announced that they’ve been under the false impression that they were obliged to include biofuels as part of their plan to fight global warming. It seems they’ve been misreading the documents - 10% of transport needs must come from renewable energy, not 10% from biofuels. [mail&guardian]

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greening it up – mon 23 Jun 2008

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-06-23 10:56

Sasol: doing something about SA's largest private co2 footprint?Sasol: doing something about SA's largest private co2 footprint?SA carbon giants back global CEO plan
Eskom, with total CO2 emissions around 210 million tons a year (more than the US's largest electricity utility), Sasol (SA's biggest private sector emitter of carbon) and Transnet have all endorsed a climate change plan to be presented to the G8 by an influential group of CEOs from many of the world's largest companies.

From the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website:
The business leaders suggest a combination of "top-down" international commitments by governments, particularly by developed economies but also including emerging economies, and practical "bottom-up" efforts within and across industry sectors in the form of a multifaceted agenda of intensified public-private cooperation. These efforts will be aimed at speeding the development and diffusion of low-carbon technologies, mobilizing financial support to help developing countries adopt such technologies, spurring changes in consumer purchasing behaviour, and establishing common metrics to create a positive dynamic of improved corporate benchmarking, disclosure and investment decision-making with respect to GHG mitigation.

Green fascism or progressive policy?
Would you still think installing solar panels on your roof was a good idea if your government forced you to do it? Critics in the German town of Marburg have accused municipal authorities of being green "dictators" after the council, led by Social Democrats and Greens, approved a law requiring all new and renovated houses to be fitted with solar panels. The law stipulates that panels measuring one square metre for every 20 square metres of roof have to be installed. This would cost around 5000 Euro's and would take around 15 years to pay for itself in energy saved.

"We are facing a green dictatorship but nobody dares to say anything," said opposition politician Hermann Uchtmann. [iol]

Investec sees greenbacks in renewable energy
Investec Capital Markets head of project and infrastructure finance,


greening it up - mon 08 june 2008

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-06-09 10:46

Some green news to get you fired up on this chilly (in Cape Town, at least) Monday morning. Some of it bad, a lot of it good, all of it green. Enjoy!

Gardeners asked to grow food for hungry
America's poor have been shaken by the increases in fuel and food prices, and even food banks (feeding schemes) are experiencing shortages of fresh food. Community programmes in different states are using a combination of volunteer farming and food gathering to increase the fresh produce available to those most in need. [yahoo] via [nvdl]

Solar will become cost effective within two to five years
The tipping point at which the world's cleanest, most renewable resource becomes cost-competitive with other energy sources on electricity grids could happen within two to five years in some US regions and countries if the price of electricity continues to rise at its current pace according to industry leaders. [Pretoria News]

An Inconvenient Truth, the Opera
Now opera buffs will also get in on the climate change action. Milan's La Scala Teatro has commissioned an opera based on Al Gore's documentary. "Gore will be replaced on stage by a cast

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greening it up – sun 01 june 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Sun, 2008-06-01 17:21

Alternatives worth exploring:

Harnessing the sun’s heat from pavements. Dutch scientists have figured out how to harness the sun as it beats down on hot highways - cutting heating and road repair bills. At nearly a dozen sites across the Netherlands, embedded in the pavement, lies a network of pipes. Water flows through these pipes and heats up in the summer sun. The warm water is then stored underground, where it stays hot for several months. In the winter, the water is circulated through nearby buildings – homes, industrial complexes, even an airplane hangar – providing warmth. [living on earth]

Australia’s first power plant fuelled by hot rocks, four kilometres blow the Earth’s surface, is due to supply electricity to the sun-scorched Cooper Basin outpost 1100 kilometres north-west of Adelaide by the end of the year. It will be the first exploitation of deep-earth geothermal energy in what is known as the South Australian Heat Flow Anomaly, a vast area of subterranean fractured granite with estimated potential to produce 60 times more electricity than the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. [maitland mercury]

Fuel cells power plane’s jet engines whilst on the ground. Airbus and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented the first commercial aircraft powered by fuel cells at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2008. The fuel cells cannot replace the plane's jet engines for powering the heavy plane through the air. Instead, the goal is to take the first step towards meeting ambitious targets to reduce aircraft environmental impact (fuel use, CO2 emissions and noise) by 50% by 2020: the fuel cells replace the auxiliary power units which meet the plane's power demands when the plane is on the ground. [treehugger]

and more on aeroplanes…

KLM to power planes with algae? The Dutch carrier says if all goes according to plan 12 Fokker-50 planes - representing seven percent of KLM's fleet - will fly on fuel derived from algae by 2010. Most likely, the planes will be powered by a blend of fuels, though according to AlgaeLink, KLM has every intention of running the 12 Fokkers on 100% biofuel. Biofuels of this type being developed are theoretically carbon nuetral, don't compete with foodstocks, and should be relatively cheap. [triplepundit] via [hugg]


greening it up – fri 25 april 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Sat, 2008-04-26 08:45

Affordable electric car coming soon…. Wouldn’t it be great to know that a functional and economical electric car is available? The Think City electric car - a four-seater with 110 mile range and top speed of 65 mph, priced under $25,000, made from 95% recyclable materials, will be available in the U.S. in 2009. (no guesses as to where the pic for advertising was taken) [gas2.org]

SA needs to clean up and slim down. Our economy is hugely energy-intensive. In fact, according to this article, SA is a considerably worse emitter than the US if you consider its carbon dioxide emissions from the perspective of carbon intensity. The carbon intensity of an economy refers to the amount of carbon (or fossil fuels) a country consumes in producing gross domestic product (GDP). [businessday]

Zinc-air fuel cells the answer to our energy crisis? AEDS has designed a fuel cell that can deliver uninterrupted power for up to 240 hours and is environmentally friendly. Though they are aimed at non grid electrification in rural areas and only power appliances that need a 12 volt DC power supply that do not consume more than 35Watt energy, you can couple fuel cells in parallel. When interviewed recently on SAFM, Rolf Papsdorf alluded to powering his lights with fuel cells in his home.[AEDC]

Climate Change – Kirstenbosch’s theme at Chelsea. The exhibit, named "The Heat is on", was designed by David Davidson and Raymond Hudson and will be on display from May 20 to 24 at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, and at Kirstenbosch from Monday. [IOL]

Town produces all of its energy, and more, from wind power. Rock Port, Missouri, is a small city of 1,300 people, and they just made history by being the first city in the US to be 100% powered by the wind, also making them #1 in the US for percentage of renewable energy. [treehugger]


greening it up: on climate change

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-04-10 12:53

There are a couple of alarming stories indicating the increasing effects of climate change on the planet. But there are as many, if not more, about positive change and moves towards a growing global approach:

UN-backed study reveals warming trends in large ocean areas. Warming trends in a third of the world's large ocean regions are two to four times greater than previously reported averages, increasing the risk to marine life and fisheries. [uk reuters]

Moving away from petrochemicals in cosmetics & cleaning products. More than a tenth of the world’s oil is spent not on powering engines but as a feedstock for making chemicals that enrich many goods — from cosmetics to cleaners and fabric to automobile parts. Now researchers and corporations are turning to renewable sources like corn and switchgrass (wish it was concern for the environment that had prompted them…). [NY times] Good for the environment? On the face of it, yes, but not if you consider that sources like corn are also a food source. We could have another biofuel scenario where we have to choose between fuel or food. [engineering news] And the decision to use water for biofuels instead of for food. [IOL]

One thirsty town’s answer to water shortage. Chennai, India: No major river flows through this semi-arid city. But the city averages 48 inches of annual rainfall. They’ve been importing water from neighbouring states – fraught with political tensions. Wanting to come up with their own solutions, Chennai residents started digging bore wells deep into the earth. But when groundwater is the primary water source, the challenge of replenishing the aquifer remains. In September 2003, a government ordinance required Chennai's buildings to capture rainwater. [alternet]

Climate change enters school syllabus. The Philippine government will make climate change part of the national school curriculum, officials said on Wednesday. [IOL]

A cleaner, leaner jet age has arrived. Aviation is responsible for about 2 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases, and that share will rise as air travel continues to grow. So the industry is scrambling to build greener airoplanes — to save weight and improve engine efficiency, with an eye toward reducing operating costs and emissions. [NY times]


greening it up – tues 25 mar 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-03-25 10:55

world water day fell on 22 March - we’ve highlighted a number of news items on water:

Sucking America dry for biofuels. To hear agribusiness boosters and politicians tell it, corn-based ethanol is a miraculous solution to the nation's hunger for liquid fuels. But as miracles go, it's not all that impressive. There is folly in turning water into fuel, and where America goes, others follow… [alternet]

The dilemma of bottled versus tap water. Studies have shown that global consumption of bottled water doubled between 1999 and 2004, reaching 41 billion gallons (154 billion litres) annually. In most cases bottled water is no healthier than tap water and it can be very expensive. About 10,000 times more expensive – never mind the unnecessary contribution to landfill of countless bottles. [talkgreen] via [hugg]

Clean water for all in Gauteng, but only by 2009. The Gauteng provincial government is "well on course" to supply all households in the province with clean water by the end of this year. The minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Lindiwe Hendricks, urges South Africans to use water sparingly to avoid a crisis in the future. [IOL]

What’s your water footprint? The climate crisis and water are inextricably linked. Access to water to drink, shower or flush our toilets may not always be as easy as ‘turning on the tap’. A new website, H2o conserve, has produced a water calculator that helps you measure how much water you use so that you can better understand your ‘water footprint’. [h2oconserve]

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greening it up – mon 17 mar 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-03-17 11:35

Look out for pro GM stories like this. An obvious threat to biotech multinationals like Monsanto is the organic movement that continues to sweep the world in direct opposition to the aggressive patent protected seed industry. So it isn’t unusual to see unremitting press in GM’s favour, but not in the vein of this latest article, which advocates that the future of food may depend on an unlikely marriage between organic farmers and genetic engineering (!). [boston.com] The suggestion that Bt is a ‘favourite’ insecticide of organic farmers is what had me sitting up. There may be no long-term studies of health effects to date, but there is literature about Btk and its negative effects on both humans and the environment that is more than convincing [nosprayzone] [quick facts about Bt] The Chinese cotton project sited in the article as so ‘hugely successful’ is a complete contradiction to a similar Bt cotton case in India that was an abysmal failure [mindfully.org] Notice too, how the article underhandedly undermines organic farming, suggesting it has ‘serious limitations’ – most of which refer to - you got it - pests and diseases… [Monsanto & GM in SA]

Netcare and Community Hospital Group stand accused of price fixing. In a fine example of how consumers in SA are being duped, a plea bargain submitted by the two accused to the Competition Tribunal would have allowed them to pay the tribunal R6-million for fixing prices of services rendered to the public by the CHG in 2003. This was after Netcare bought a 43.8 percent stake in CHG and adopted tariffs used by the largest private hospital group. The settlement offer has been refused. [IOL]

Tips for Tasneem. In her blog – sustainable home 4 all, Minister Tasneem Essop is encouraging all to submit their brilliant ideas on how to save electricity. If you can overlook being referred to as a 'citizen' this is a great opportunity. [sustainablehome4all]


greening it up – thurs 28 feb 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-02-28 13:14

What it means to eat cloned food. Think it can’t happen? The FDA, the agency responsible for ensuring the safety of America’s food supply, has recently lifted a voluntary ban [FDA to lift ban on cloned meat] on allowing cloned animal products from entering the human food supply, with the claims that eating meat and dairy from cloned animals is harmless to human health. But why would you ingest something that is known to be genetically flawed and diseased? [friends of the earth]

Global food crisis Global food prices have gone up 75% since 2000; this week, the UN’s world food programme reported that it might have to ration food aid, and ...

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