United Airlines just announced that Flight 1403, scheduled to take off today, Monday November 7th will be powered by Solazyme’s algae-derived biofuel. This will be the world’s first commercial biofuel powered flight. The flight’s route, from Houston to Chicago, is significant in several ways. First, the departure from Houston can be taken to symbolize a departure from the ”big oil” that Houston has come to represent. Second, it represents a full merging of United and Continental. The flight will be traveling from Continental’s hub in Houston to United’s hub in Chicago. Continental pilots will be manning the cockpit of the United 737-800 Eco-Skies aircraft.The fuel, branded Solafuel, is a 40/60 blend of algae-based fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel that was produced by a partnership between Solazyme and UOP.Back in February, Solazyme announced a partnership with Qantas to provide biofuel to the Australian carrier, but United has beaten them to the punch with the first commercial flight. Solazyme was also the first company to produce an algae-derived jet fuel that met FAA specifications. In what is certain to become a major new industry, a major competitor has emerged in Sapphire Energy, which was named one of the top ten green startups of 2010, receiving more than $100 million in venture capital funding.Other players in this new field that were also spotlighted at last week’s Algal Biofuels Organization ABO Summit in Minneapolis include Phycal, BioProcess Algae, Heliae and Algenol.Two years ago, Continental Airlines launched the first US biofuel test flight, also from Houston, burning a blend of 50 percent standard aviation fuel, 3 percent algae-based fuel from Sapphire also partnering with UOP and 47 percent jatropha oil. A month earlier, Air New Zealand ran a test flight using 50/50 jet fuel and jatropha oil. Some consider jatropha, a tropical succulent, a promising jet fuel alternative, but concerns have been raised about the amount of water required to grow it, which is said to be five times more than corn or sugar cane.Meanwhile, Solazyme is producing not only oil, but also food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Last month they announced an expanded agreement with Unilever to produce algae-derived oils for making soap and other personal care products, presumably, to cut back on the use of palm oil and petroleum-derived components.A week later, their Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals subsidiary announced that it will begin producing its microalgae derived food ingredient, Whole Algalin Flour, at Roquette’s commercial production plant in Lestrem, France.Writing about the ABO conference, biofuels analyst Jim Lane says, “It could be that biofuels, renewable chemicals and materials have an overly complicated and wrongly-told story. What investors have been trained to think is that “green” equals “higher costs,” [meaning it] is a luxury, requires subsidies, and is currently unaffordable. Their belief: carbon mitigation is a cost that will be saddled on the hard-pressed and possibly unemployed consumer. They have come to believe that renewables equal subsidies… The message of the industry’s current investors to the world: the military should provide the capital for renewable diesel, that airlines should build out aviation biofuels, that governments need to provide incentives, tax credits, mandates and tariffs for the development at scale of everything else. And that anything not already paid for by any of the above should be paid for by oil companies, who apparently should be delighted at the opportunity to invest in putting themselves out of business.”RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
Archive for the ‘#environment’ Tag
The cornerstone of most waste management strategies is the waste hierarchy, also known as the ”3 Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle. The aim is to extract the maximum practical benefit from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
It can be compared to a six-layer pyramid.
· At the peak is the ultimate aim – the prevention of waste.
· The next layer is minimisation, where you generate as little waste as possible.
· Below this is reuse, where you repair rather than throw away.
· The next layer is recycling where waste materials are processed into new products.
· Fifth from the top is energy recovery where energy is extracted from remaining waste.
· Finally, the bottom line, the disposal of anything that is left.
Various strategies have been considered to deal with waste. Producer responsibility is a strategy designed to promote the integration of all costs associated with a product up to its eventual disposal. Manufacturers, importers or vendors of a product are required to be responsible for its end-of-life disposal. The costs of this would obviously be reflected in the purchase price.
Another strategy is the polluter pays principle. In this case the polluting party is responsible for paying for the impact caused to the environment. With respect to waste management, this will generally mean being required to pay for appropriate disposal of waste.
An example of this principle would involve the kerbside collection vehicle weighing each bin as it was being emptied and the consumer subsequently being billed accordingly.
One of the most critical issues with respect to waste management is education and awareness. The world’s natural resources are in grave danger. Environmental pollution and degradation are occurring at an unprecedented scale and speed.
Waste material represents a fantastic resource that in many cases is simply there waiting to be tapped. To simply bury it in the ground or burn it is not a realistic option in the 21stcentury.
Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper Leave a comment
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published an interesting data collection of how the world has dealt with its ecological challenges since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Despite some progress in certain areas, overall the picture does not look rosy.
The publication entitled “Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20″ is part of UNEP’s “Global Environmental Outlook-5″ (GEO -5) series, the UN’s landmark report on the state and outlook of the global environment. The complete GEO-5 report will be launched in May 2012, one month before the Rio+20 in Brazil.
Although the authors of the report have carefully avoided providing any critical evaluation of the statistical data, anyone reading the 111-pages study can hardly conclude that global leaders have done a great job since they received a wake-up call about the world’s sustainability challenges twenty years ago.
Here are a few of the “gloomy” messages of the study:
World population has grown by 26% since 1992 (from 5.5 billion to 7 billion).
More people than ever live in megacities.
Global average meat consumption grew from 34 kg per person per year to 43 kg.
GDP has continued to increase but there are increasing doubts as to whether this has created more quality of life and more happiness.
The global use of natural resource materials increased by over 40% between 1992 and 2005, from about 42 to nearly 60 thousand million tonnes.
CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008, from around 22 000 million to just over 30, 000 million tonnes.
The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year between 1992 and 2011.
Oceans are becoming more acidic: the ocean’s pH declined from 8.11 in 1992 to 8.06 in 2007.
Nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and the speed with which this is happening is increasing.
Forest area has decreased by 300 million hectare since 1990, an area larger than Argentina.
Biodiversity is in serious decline and every year more species move closer to extinction.
The world has seen a huge increase in natural disasters.
Food production has continued to rise but only thanks to more use of fertilizer. It takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy (i.e., mostly fossil fuels) to produce one calorie of food.
Irrigation has raised crop yields but also put pressure on freshwater availability
Since 1992, the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks increased by 13% and overexploited, depleted or recovering stocks increased by 33%, reaching 52% and 33%, respectively, of all fish stocks.
In 2010, 1,440 million people globally—that is 20% of the world population—are still suffering from “energy poverty.
And here are a few of the “good stories”:
Over the past 20 years, the Human Development Index has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development but big inequalities still remain.
Women’s political influence is rising.
The value of internationally traded products has tripled between 1992 and 2009, from over US$ 9 to 28 million millions.
Although overall energy and material use continue to grow, there is a simultaneous general decline in emissions, energy and material use per unit of output (resource efficiency).
The consumption of ozone-depleting substances decreased by 93% from 1992 to 2009, and 98% since the Montreal Protocol’s was established in 1987.
Numerous multilateral environmental agreements were signed since 1992.
The private sector is increasingly adopting environmental management standards.
Land area used for organic farming is growing by nearly 13% per year.
Investment in sustainable energy has skyrocketed in recent years (although from very low starting levels).
The “global village” has developed rapidly as a result of new technologies and the Internet.
All in all, the UNEP study is an impressive work of data collection but it could have done with a little bit less spin and a bit more “hard” evaluation. But then again, maybe this document has a political function and the real meat can be expected in May of next year? “
By Willy De Backer
Head of the Greening Europe Forum
GWANGJU, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -Hundreds of mayors and environment experts from more than 100 cities across the globe were to gather Tuesday in this southwestern city for an urban environment summit in a bid to address the wide range of environmental issues facing cities, organizers said.
The 2011 Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords (UEA), hosted by the Gwangju metropolitan government, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the U.S. city of San Francisco, welcomed some 600 mayors, scholars and activists to the city about 330 kilometers southwest of Seoul, with the summit scheduled to open later in the day.
Signed in June 2005 by mayors from 52 cities to celebrate World Environment Day, the UEA has emerged as a hallmark of urban leadership’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The four-day summit, under the theme “Green City, Better City,” brings together representatives from nearly 130 cities and international organizations.
A total of 115 cities, including Curitiba, Brazil, and Barcelona, Spain, have registered for the event, adding to hopes that the summit will attract a record number of foreign officials and mayors to discuss the future of the global environment. Mayors from 23 different cities and deputy mayors from 11 cities are slated to attend.
The 115 cities are comprised of 52 from Asia, 37 from South Korea, 12 from Europe, six from Africa, six from North and South America, and two from Oceania.
A dozen international organizations, including UN-Habitat; the World Bank; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, are participating as sponsors.
In addition, a handful of well-known officials and activists have joined the panel of keynote speakers. They include Achim Steiner, executive director of the UNEP; Joan Clos, executive director of U.N.-Habitat; and Earth Policy Institute President Lester Brown.
The summit will delve into two major topics: developing a system to evaluate environmental policies and trying to revive a previous effort to set up an emissions trading framework.
Summit attendees will try to develop a practical and universal index to evaluate cities’ eco-friendly policies. The existing standards are either outdated or do not consider the differences between developed and developing countries.
The other goal of the summit is to set up a framework for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A joint study with the UNEP has been under way since 2007.
The CDM was created under the Kyoto Protocol as one of several ways to facilitate carbon trading in an effort to get cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The 1997 protocol obliges nearly 40 developed countries to reduce their emissions over a five-year period through the end of 2012 by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels.
But the CDM has not led to a functional carbon trading system, and so summit attendees are hoping to discuss the agreement and hammer out a new framework for emissions trading.
At the close of the summit, the participants are expected to announce the Gwangju Declaration and Gwangju Initiative summarizing what they discussed, which includes opening an office to implement the aforementioned two goals and forming a consultative body of environment-friendly cities.
Meanwhile, a group of well-known officials and activists are also slated to discuss environmental issues at symposiums and forums on the sidelines of the summit on subjects such as finding a solution to the endangered Earth and environmental issues facing metropolises and developing countries.
Activist Tzeporah Berman steps out of the trees and into the boardroom – The Globe and Mail Leave a comment
“Now, after two decades as an activist, she has evolved again – and to much criticism from her own green community. In March 2010, she was appointed by Greenpeace to head up its largest project, the international climate and energy campaign. That resulted in a public lobbying and petition campaign against her called “Save Greenpeace.” The reason? She has gone from sitting in trees to sitting in boardrooms, negotiating with industry.“
“She supports run-of-river power projects, which divert water to spin turbines and generate clean electricity – anathema to many environmentalists concerned about watersheds. She works with industry leaders, such as Avram Lazar, head of Forest Products Association of Canada, someone she calls “a champion on the inside,” to reach an agreement over logging of the boreal forest.
Still, her moral touchstones for negotiation are strict. “One is, ‘Are we stopping destruction that would happen if we didn’t?’ And the other is a bit harder to gauge. It’s the question, ‘Is it game-changing? Will it have a domino effect in the right direction?’ With the boreal agreement, we not only put a fence around the caribou habitat…we also bought some time and we got the industry to commit to a process where they have to take into consideration ecosystem-based management.”
Part of Ms. Berman‘s charm is her admission of weakness. She may be called an eco-warrior but she has moments of doubt. She has been to known lose hope, as she did following Bali negotiations in 2007 that failed to replace the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Global-warming experts declared that there were maybe 3,000 days left to save the Earth from apocalyptic shifts in weather. She realized that to make a difference, she had to learn issues about climate and energy, not just forestry, wood products and biodiversity.
“It was so depressing and I didn’t know what to do. Then I heard [American novelist] Barbara Kingsolver and she said, ‘Optimism is the only moral choice,’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s right.’ ” At the end of the interview, I wonder how her experience as a child shaped her sense of responsibility. When she was 14, her father died during heart surgery. Four months later, her mother died of cancer, leaving four children. Her older sister, then 21, became legal guardian. “We acted as a collective,” she explains. “My first meetings were dinner on Fridays when we would decide how much money we have and what we should spend it on.” She pauses. “It made me who I am, but I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.” The calm composure remains. “It was brutal.” “
Water credits: A new way to conserve precious resource
Payal Gwalani, TNN Sep 23, 2011, 04.08am
ISTNAGPUR: It is said that the next world war would be over water. In order to avoid this imminent disaster, city-based environmentalist has proposed the idea of making water a tradable commodity by introducing water credits on the lines of carbon credits.The idea is to have a tradable certificate which notifies the quantity of water saved by an institution, organization or an individual this would help in maximum utilization of every available drop of water. It may be defined as a permit that allows the holder to trade the conserved water in the international market at their current market price.
Many important organizations working in the field of environment have shown an interest in the concept. The National Innovation Foundation run by the ministry of Science and Technology and ministry of environment and forest has forwarded the idea to their parent body World Innovation Foundation which is trying to develop the idea further. The United Nations GEMS/Water Programme has also hailed it as an interesting concept. Even the Environmental Information System ENVIS of the state government has endorsed it by putting it up on their website.The idea was conceived when Shripad Vaidya, an environmentalist, was trying to find ways to lessen the misery faced by the farmers in Central India. “I found out that irrigation is a big problem for many farmers in the region and started thinking of ways to help them out. Around the same time, I came across the idea of carbon credits. That made me look for ways to have a similar credit system for water,” explained Vaidya.Though commodification is viewed in a negative way, Vaidya sees it as a means to improve the value of any object. “We keep telling people the importance of justifiable use of all resources – including water. But when they attain a monetary value, people are more likely to use resources economically and try to avoid any misuse,” he said.The foremost step should be setting up of a standardized unit that would be recognized across the world, says Vaidya. “One water credit may have the value of a hundred litres or one thousand litres as per the decision taken unanimously by the concerned authorities,” he said while giving an example. The average water consumption of the interested consumer can then be measured and kept a track of. Thereafter, according to the actual consumption it may be observed whether the use is less or more than the average. Those using lesser quantities would then be able to sell their credits to those who wish to use more water than they have pledged to use. This way those individuals or organizations who try to conserve or recycle water would be able to reap financial benefits for their efforts.
First African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize dies | The Associated Press | News | Washington Examiner Leave a comment
” “Wangari Maathai combined the protection of the environment, with the struggle for women’s rights and fight for democracy,” he said.
Maathai said during her 2004 Peace Prize acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life’s work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya. There she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.
After arap Moi left government, Maathai served as an assistant minister for the environment and natural resources ministry.
Although the tree-planting campaign launched by her group, the Green Belt Movement, did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it became clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy.
“Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement,” Maathai said.
Maathai’s work was quickly recognized by groups and governments the world over, winning awards, accolades and partnerships with powerful organizations. Meanwhile, her dedication to nature remained, as could be seen in her role in a movie called “Dirt! The Movie,” where Maathai narrated the story of a hummingbird carrying one drop of water at a time to fight a forest fire, even as animals like the elephant asked why the hummingbird was wasting his energy.
“It turns to them and tells them, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always feel like a hummingbird,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird. I will do the best I can.”
Recognizing that never-say-die attitude, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Maathai’s death “strikes at the core of our nation’s heart.” Odinga said Maathai died just as the causes she fought for were getting the attention they deserve.
The United Nations Environment Program called Maathai one of Africa’s foremost environmental campaigners and recalled that Maathai was the inspiration behind UNEP’s 2006 Billion Tree Campaign. More than 11 billion trees have been planted so far.”
“One of the world’s key challenges in an increasingly challenging future will be balancing the water, food and energy equation, WWF predicted at the conclusion of this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm.
“We are already exceeding the limits of the planet in many ways, but it is the availability of fresh water that will have the biggest impact on the food security and energy security of billions,” said Dr Li Lifeng, director of WWF’s global freshwater programme.
WWF was endorsing the meeting’s Stockholm Statement, this year urging nations at the forthcoming Rio +20 global summit on sustainable development to commit to “universal provisioning of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and modern energy services by the year 2030”.
The Stockholm Statement also seeks 20 per cent by 2020 targets that include increases in crop and energy water efficiency and water recycling, and reductions in water pollution.
The Statement also calls for special attention to water, sanitation and energy needs of “the bottom billion”, noting that access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services have now been defined as human rights.
“We all too often overlook the increasing water intensity of energy production, and the potential impacts on food production,” said Dr Lifeng. “As we eat our way up the food chain, the water intensity of many foods is also increasing in the face of depleting groundwater reserves and climate change impacts.
Solving the water, energy and food equation for the world has to be a global priority.” “
Implications of the decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear energy reactors in the light of the nuclear disaster in Fukashima Japan .
“With a total of 133 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in place at the start of this year, “there was really a huge amount of space to shut off nuclear plants,” Harry Lehmann, a director general of the German Federal Environment Agency and one of Germany’s leading policy makers on energy and environment, said of the road map he helped develop. The country needs about 90.5 gigawatts of generating capacity on hand to fill a typical national demand of about 80 gigawatts a day. So the 25 gigawatts that nuclear power contributed would not be missed — at least within its borders.
To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don’t produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.”
“Print a Forest is a free computer application. Our mission is to give everyone an option to have the personal documents they print, plant an entire forest. Every hundred pages you print with Print a Forest plants a tree. If you must print, why not print a forest? With your participation, the paper you print will plant 75 trees for every 1 tree harvested. Download our application and with ease the paper you print transforms into a forest grown by the plantabillion.org campaign. “
via Print A Forest.