Day: October 25, 2013

People don’t put a high value on climate protection

Read the full story at Phys.org.

An international team of researchers led by Manfred Milinski from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology has shown how poorly we manage collective risk. “Our experiment is based on an essay which Thomas Schelling, the Nobel laureate in economics, wrote back in 1995″, explains Milinski. Schelling pointed out that it was today’s generation which would have to make the efforts for climate protection, while it would be future generations who would gain the benefits. So the people of the present have little motivation actually to do anything. Does this gloomy theory withstand experimental scrutiny?

The full study is: “Intra- and intergenerational discounting in the climate game”, Jennifer Jacquet, Kristin Hagel, Christoph Hauert, Jochem Marotzke, Torsten Röhl, and Manfred Milinski, Nature Climate Change, 20 October 2013. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2024

Environmental Psychology LibGuide

The University of Illinois’ Ricker Library of Architecture and Art has developed a guide to environmental psychology resources available through their library. Most of the materials included should be readily available through your local library.

Green Building is Now the Law in Dallas

Read the full story from ENN.

Dallas has now accepted the first building permit applications under its green building ordinance. Dallas is one of the first major cities in the nation to implement comprehensive mandatory green building standards for both all new residential and commercial construction.

Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta

Read the full story from ENN.

Alberta is Canada’s industry epicenter and home to more than 40 companies that produce industrial emissions. Recent studies conducted by the University of California and the University of Michigan have indicated higher levels of contaminants which can potentially be linked to spikes in the incidences of cancer in the region.

Scientists propose quantum wells as high-power, easy-to-make energy harvesters

Read the full story at Phys.org.

By collecting heat energy from the environment and transforming it into electrical power, thermoelectric energy harvesters have the potential to provide energy for a variety of small electronic devices. Currently, the biggest challenge in developing thermoelectric energy harvesters is to make systems that are both powerful and efficient at the same time.

One material that scientists have experimented with for making thermoelectric energy harvesters is quantum dots, nano-sized crystals with semiconducting properties. Due to their sharp, discrete energy levels, quantum dots are good energy filters, which is an important property for thermoelectric devices.

In a new study published in the New Journal of Physics, a team of researchers from Switzerland, Spain, and the US has investigated a thermoelectric energy harvester design based on quantum wells. Although quantum wells are also made of semiconducting materials, they have different structures and energy-filtering properties than quantum dots.

More information: Bjӧrn Sothmann, et al. “Powerful energy harvester based on resonant-tunneling quantum wells.” New Journal of Physics, 15 (2013) 095021. DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/15/9/095021

Spanish Winemaker Obtains Permission to Cut Down 154 Acres of California Redwoods

Read the full story from Inhabitat.

As California’s wine industry continues to grow, it has extended its search for suitable areas to grow grapes outside of the valleys and closer to the coast. But Spanish winemaker Artesa Vineyards and Winery is taking this quest too far with plans to destroy 154 acres of coastal redwoods and Douglas firs to make space for new grapevines. With one study indicating that areas suitable for vineyards in the world’s major wine-producing regions could shrink between 19 and 73 percent by 2050, it’s likely that the situation will get worse before it gets better.

EPA annual GHG report shows emissions from power plants declined 10% from 2010 due to growing use of natural gas

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its third year of greenhouse gas data detailing greenhouse gas emissions and trends broken down by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility. Data for 2012 show that in the two years since reporting began, emissions from power plants have decreased 10%. This is due to a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and a slight decrease in electricity production.

How climate change affects microbial life below the seafloor

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Traces of past microbial life in sediments off the coast of Peru document how the microbial ecosystem under the seafloor has responded to climate change over hundreds of thousands of years. For more a decade scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and their colleagues at MARUM and the Univ. of Aarhus have investigated microbial life from this habitat. This “Deep Biosphere”, reaching several hundred meters below the seafloor, is exclusively inhabited by microbes and is generally considered as stable. Nevertheless, only little is known about how this system developed over millennia and how this microbial life influences the cycling of carbon in the oceans. In a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sergio Contreras, a palaeoceanographer, and his Bremen colleagues use a careful examination of drill-cores from the continental shelf of Peru to actually show how surprisingly dynamic this deeply buried ecosystem can be.

U.S. Manufacturers Save $1 Billion, 11 Million Tons of CO2 through Energy Efficiency Investments

Underscoring the Obama Administration’s efforts to double energy productivity by 2030 and help businesses save money and energy, the Energy Department today recognized more than 120 manufacturers that are making smart investments to save on energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve their bottom lines. Through the Department’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program (Better Plants), over 1,750 plants across the United States have saved about $1 billion in energy costs and approximately 190 trillion British thermal units – equivalent to about 11 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

During keynote remarks at the World Energy Engineering Congress today in Washington, D.C., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan praised Better Plants partners for their energy efficiency accomplishments and welcomed 12 new companies that joined the program over the last year.

“Through the Better Plants program, American manufacturers are cutting energy waste and saving millions of dollars each year,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan. “These manufacturers are leading by example – demonstrating the promise of energy efficiency, increasing competitiveness in the private sector and reducing harmful carbon pollution.”

Across the United States, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. Through the Energy Department’s Better Plants Program, American manufacturers sign a voluntary pledge to reduce energy intensity by about 25 percent over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector. To date, participating companies represent nearly 8 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. These partners also consume close to 15 percent of the U.S. chemical manufacturing sector’s energy use and 23 percent of energy used across the nation’s transportation equipment manufacturing industry.

At the World Energy Engineering Congress, Deputy Assistant Secretary Hogan also recognized five companies – AT&T, Cummins, Metal Industries, TE Connectivity and United Technologies Corporation – for exceeding their 25-percent energy intensity reduction goal. Along with the other Better Plants participants, these companies are modeling cost-effective energy management practices that save money and strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. The Better Plants program supports the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative – a cross-cutting effort to ensure U.S. manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace.

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is part of President Obama’s broader Better Buildings Initiative to help American commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years. The Initiative also includes the Better Buildings Challenge through which U.S. companies, universities, school districts and state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more. Thirteen U.S. manufacturers have stepped up to the Better Plants Challenge – the industrial component of the Better Buildings Challenge – to achieve portfolio-wide energy savings and share successful strategies that maximize efficiency and help overcome financial and technical barriers across the marketplace.

Find more information about the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program and view the Better Plants Fall 2013 Progress Report at www.energy.gov/better-buildings.