Day: August 19, 2015

How jellyfish have become nature’s ultimate guerrilla protesters against power plants

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The jellyfish are coming and energy plants may be powerless to stop them.

Blooms of the translucent sea creatures clog power plants worldwide, threatening to shutter all operations. Just last week, a coal-fired power plant in Rutenberg, Israel worked hard to unclog its filters from a nearby swarm that could have shut down its cooling system, Haaretz reported.

CNT Receives EPA Grant to Address Environmental and Public Health Issues Related to Urban Flooding

Read the full post from the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

The RainReady℠ program, an initiative of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), has received a $30,000 EPA Environmental Justice Award. The grant will be used to support CNT’s work helping homeowners reduce sewer backups and flooding in Chatham, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The work is being done in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

EPA Proposes to Cut Methane Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste Landfills

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two proposals to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. Under today’s proposals, new, modified and existing landfills would begin collecting and controlling landfill gas at emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Climate change threatens the health and welfare of current and future generations. Children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty may be most at risk from the health impacts of climate change. In addition to methane, landfills also emit other pollutants, including the air toxics benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and vinyl chloride.

Municipal solid waste landfills receive non-hazardous wastes from homes, businesses and institutions. As landfill waste decomposes, it produces a number of air toxics, carbon dioxide, and methane. MSW landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S., accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2013 – the equivalent of approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

Combined, the proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year beginning in 2025 – equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the carbon pollution emissions from more than 1.1 million homes. EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.

Today’s proposals would strengthen a previously proposed rule for new landfills that was issued in 2014, and would update the agency’s 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills. The proposals are based on additional data and analysis, and public comments received on a proposal and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking EPA issued in 2014.

EPA will take comment on the proposed rules for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing if one is requested within five days of publication.

Reporting your company’s carbon footprint can save $1.5 million a year

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Businesses will go to great lengths to convince the markets that they are a safe investment. But it might come as a surprise that one of the best things a company can do to boost its investment credibility is voluntarily publish details of its environmental impact.

That’s according to emerging research from academics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and Oxford University in the U.K., which found that companies can save millions on the cost of debt interest by volunteering data on their carbon emissions.

Thinking in circles, cycles and loops

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual municipal waste Facts and Figures report last month with a new tag line of “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management.” The new name comes at an interesting time in the world of municipal solid waste management in the U.S.

In short, if America wants to recycle, people will have to pay more. So far, there really has been no discussion about the underlying reality that current practices yield a lot of contamination (aka waste).

I recently spoke at a fundraising event in Barre, Vermont for the Toxics Action Center (TAC). As part of its mission to prevent landfill expansions and associated environmental impacts, TAC advocates for “zero waste” programs. I was asked to address zero waste initiatives, especially in light of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, which forbids disposal of recycled materials and organics by 2020.

While thinking about how to frame my remarks, it hit me that “zero waste” is equivalent to “100 percent resources.” In other words, every material manufactured or grown can be used or consumed, and then, because what’s left are resources, can be repurposed or reused as is, recycled, digested or composted.

Climate Fiction: Can Books Save the Planet?

Read the full story in the Atlantic.

A new literary genre that focuses on the consequences of environmental issues is striking a chord with younger generations—and engaging them in thinking about the Earth’s sustainability.

On the trail of the Arctic’s carbon time bomb

Read the full story in New Scientist.

On A July afternoon in the eastern Siberian town of Cherskiy, 220 kilometres north of the Arctic circle, it is a warm 27 °C. The vista features silver-blue rivers bisecting green swathes of boreal forest – Earth’s biggest ecosystem. But drive a metal rod into the soil and roughly 75 centimetres below the surface you hit a layer that’s as hard as steel – and perhaps as dangerous as dynamite.

Arctic permafrost holds more than twice as much carbon in its frozen soil as Earth’s atmosphere. Which is what brings me here, accompanying seven US scientists from various labs, led by the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. We have travelled 7000 kilometres and 15 time zones to Cherskiy to study a phenomenon that might hasten the release of that carbon: the rise of Arctic wildfires.

Are These Strange Underwater Balloons the Future of Sustainable Farming?

Read the full story at Good.

The divers draw closer. Their destination, 30 feet under the waves, is a small cluster of pods, alien-like and translucent. Strapped tight in their scuba gear and emitting a thick stream of bubbles, the swimmers enter the clear domes. Then it begins.

They garden.

Welcome to Nemo’s Garden, located on a patch of underwater sand off the coast of Noli, in northwest Italy. The garden—Orto di Nemo in Italian—is the brainchild of one Sergio Gamberini, the president of the diving equipment firm Ocean Reef Group.

Speedo dives into closed-loop swimwear

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

American swimwear giant Speedo is making waves in the circular economy with a new initiative to create swimsuits from remnants of nylon generated in its own factories.

The groundbreaking efficiency project was launched last week under a new partnership with Italian materials manufacturer Aquafil, which has pioneered a new form of nylon made using 100 percent waste material.

Speedo has struck a deal with Aquafil to ship fabric remnants from its factories back to Aquafil’s plants in Italy, where the material will be turned back into nylon for a new range dubbed Speedo Powerflex Eco swimwear.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

Americans’ lawns now cover an area three times larger than any irrigated crop in the U.S.

According to a new study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West, there is now an estimated total of 163,812 square kilometers, or more than 63,000 square miles, of lawn in America — about the size of Texas.

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