How good is that environmental nonprofit, anyway?

Read the full post at Ensia.

Greenpeace rates tech companies on their data centers. Oxfam America ranks food brands on the sustainability of their supply chains. The League of Conservation Voters scores elected officials on their voting records.

But who rates, ranks and scores Greenpeace, Oxfam America and the League of Conservation Voters​?​ ​Or The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International or WWF? ​For now, no one. No independent organization has made a serious effort to evaluate the performance of environmental organizations. Nor, for that matter, do many environmental nonprofits report publicly on their effectiveness or admit their errors. Put simply, many green groups lack the accountability they demand from business and government.

New Grist Series: The real sharing economy

Via Grist.

Renewable energy is booming and countries are finally beginning to act committed to saving the climate, just as we’re approaching game over for the stable climate. But carbon emissions keep rising every year, in tandem with economic growth.

Sharing, real sharing, could allow humanity as a whole to produce, consume, and emit less while improving quality of life through greater social interactions, fairer wealth distribution, and stronger community relationships. But sharing needs to go far beyond profit-seeking smartphone apps for unregulated taxi services (Uber) and vacation rentals (Airbnb).

This series explores the real sharing economy — where wealth and power are shared, not just consumer goods and spare bedrooms. These real sharing entities share resources, knowledge, and decision-making responsibilities as they co-create community goods and services. Then they share the abundance together.

Troublingly, a grow-grow-grow economy makes us all more reliant on money. Real sharing economy projects make money less important, like the Buy Nothing groups on the Facebook and tool-lending libraries that Grist already writes about. This series will tour examples of Seattle’s emerging sharing movement: a bike cooperative, an urban food forest, and a community solar program.

Planting the seeds of a real sharing economy is no easy task. But it’s easier to share the work than go it alone.

Revving Up Energy Solutions Innovation

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

During the 2014 R&D 100 Awards event, R&D Magazine expanded the banquet to hold four technology panels during the day. The last panel of the day focused on energy/environmental solutions and the innovation behind four R&D 100-winning technologies and the complexity of bringing such technologies to the market.

Speakers of the panel included Nicolas Dube, Distinguished Technologist, HP; Qichao Hu, Founder and CEO, SolidEnergy Systems; Ty McNutt, Director of Business Development, APEI Inc.; and Edward Williams, CEO, Novinda. Each gave feedback as to the issues of creating new energy/environmental solutions and the complexity of the innovation process.

Stockholm Environment Institute

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014.

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is an independent international research institute. For over 25 years SEI has been gathering data on the interrelated systems of development and ecology, bringing together diverse stakeholders for dialogues and partnerships. For the past several years, the organization has focused its efforts on four targeted activities: Managing environmental systems, Reducing climate risk, Transforming governance, and Rethinking development. Scout the site first by clicking on each of these categories to reveal theme summaries, sub-themes, and theme fact sheets. From there, have a look at the News & Media, Projects, Tools, and People tabs. One of the most exciting aspects of this site is the Recent Publications column, where you can read free empirical articles on such topics as “The economic case for low carb” and “A new era in the fight against deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.” [CNH]

UNESCO partners with Nature Education and Roche to launch the World Library of Science: a free online science education resource

UNESCO launched the UNESCO World Library of Science (WLoS), a newly created, free online science education resource for a global community of users. Developed through the joint efforts of UNESCO, Nature Education, and Roche, the WLoS was created to give students around the world, especially those in disadvantaged regions, access to the latest science information as well as the opportunity to share their experiences and learning through discussion with their peers in a shared learning environment.

Launched on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development 2014, the WLoS is a science resource library stocked with over 300 top-quality articles, 25 eBooks, and over 70 videos from the publishers of Nature, the most cited scientific journal in the world. It is also a state-of-the-art digital platform that provides a community hub for learning. Users can join classes, build groups and connect with other learners.

Specifically, the WLoS seeks to make science learning accessible to students everywhere in the world by:

  • Helping equalize learning opportunities. The WLoS is open to all at no cost. It provides students with access to high-quality educational material, regardless of geography or economic circumstances. UNESCO will dedicate special attention to training teachers and students in least developed countries in how to use the WLoS, accelerating science learning in disadvantaged regions.
  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning. The WLoS supports teachers and students worldwide by giving educators concrete ideas about how to present complex scientific concepts and students resources to fuel and complement their learning. The website provides a searchable database of content that is peer-reviewed.
  • Strengthening science education. Scientific understanding is the foundation of sustainable development and prepares learners for employment.
  • Promoting the use of open educational resources. The WLoS content is open. It can be tailored and shared for any educational or non-commercial use. The WLoS is founded on the idea that educational content and scientific knowledge should be free and accessible to all.
  • Connecting communities of students and teachers. The WLoS is more than just a traditional library: it is a dynamic resource that allows users to collaborate with others, personalize their learning experience, pose and answer questions, and collaborate with others while exploring scientific concepts. The WLoS fosters knowledge-sharing and peer-learning.

Icann: environmentalists to control use of .eco internet domain name

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The .eco domain name will be controlled by the environmental community following a decision by internet regulators.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) this week granted control of the domain name to a coalition of about 50 environmental groups, assembled by a Canadian company. Green NGOs have fought to control the domain because they feared it would be hijacked by corporations to give their commercial activities an unwarranted environmental tinge.

Jacob Malthouse, co-founder of Big Room Inc, the Canadian company that led the effort, said Icann’s decision was a victory against greenwashing.

Wheat growth and yield responses to biochar addition under Mediterranean climate conditions

Manuel Olmo, José Antonio Alburquerque, Vidal Barrón, María Carmen del Campillo, Antonio Gallardo, Mariano Fuentes,
Rafael Villar (2014). ” Wheat growth and yield responses to biochar addition under Mediterranean climate conditions.” Biology and Fertility of Soils Online ahead of print. DOI:

Abstract: The effects of the addition of a slow pyrolysis biochar (produced from olive-tree prunings) to a vertisol were studied in a field experiment during one wheat (Triticum durum L.) growing season. The biochar addition did not significantly affect soil parameters such as pH, dissolved organic C and N, ammonium, nitrate or microbial biomass N. By contrast, biochar addition decreased soil compaction and increased the soil water-retention capacity and nutrient content (total N and the available contents of P, K, Mg, Cu and Zn). These favourable changes led to an increase in fine root proliferation (increasing specific root length and reducing root tissue density) and promoted crop development. As a result, the plants in biochar-treated plots showed higher relative growth and net assimilation rates, aboveground biomass and yield than those in control plots. Neither grain quality nor nutrient content were significantly affected by biochar addition. Our results suggest that the use of biochar as a soil amendment in agricultural soils can improve soil physical properties and increase fertility, favouring crop development under semiarid Mediterranean conditions.


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