California Leads a Quiet Revolution

Read the full story in the New York Times.

California is cruising toward its 2020 goal for increasing renewable energy and is setting far more ambitious targets for the future. Its large-scale solar arrays produced more energy in 2014 than those in all other states combined. Half the nation’s solar home rooftops are in the state, and thousands more are added each week.

With its progressive politics, high-tech bent and abundant sunshine, California is fast ramping up its production of clean electricity, setting an example its leaders hope the rest of the country, and other nations, will follow as they seek to cut emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

Obama just announced the first new marine sanctuaries in 15 years

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

At the second annual Our Ocean conference, which opened Monday in Chile, world leaders will address the challenges to marine ecosystems around the globe and announce the extra steps they are taking to protect the world’s oceans. And during today’s open statements, both the U.S. and Chilean governments helped to kick things off by announcing steps to create several new marine sanctuaries.

In a video message to conference attendees, President Obama announced plans for two new marine sanctuaries, one off the coast of Maryland, and the other in Lake Michigan. They’ll be the first new national marine sanctuaries designated by the federal government in the past 15 years.

Can NASA’s far-out travel plans bring sustainability to Spaceship Earth?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

America’s space agency is going long. Its next generation of explorations will send travelers on journeys beyond the moon, to Mars and maybe beyond.

What on Earth does this have to do with sustainability? In a word: Everything.

In its quest to explore the great unknown, NASA is encountering a new set of challenges. Among them is how tomorrow’s travelers can sustain life for long periods of time — far more than today’s residents of the International Space Station are likely to endure. And, unlike the Space Station, their journeys will take them so far from the blue planet that they won’t be reachable via resupply missions or repair or rescue vehicles.

So, they’ll have to take what they can in order to be self-sufficient, perhaps for years.

All of which requires a new generation of technologies to provide everything from life’s essentials such as breathable air, clean water, energy and food; to everyday comforts, such as clean clothes and personal hygiene; to tools and materials that astronauts will need to build things when they get where they’re going to set up shop on another heavenly body. All using ingredients and materials that are nontoxic, efficient and that can be endlessly put back into service.

Volkswagen Is Not Alone in Emissions, Performance Problems

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

Volkswagen isn’t the only company that is under the microscope for allegedly deceiving consumers about vehicle emission results, says the Europe-based organization Transportation and Environment. According to road tests conducted by the organization, a number of Mercedes, BMW and Peugeot vehicles guzzled, in some cases, as much as 50 percent more fuel than was stated in company-run lab tests…

According to its report, Mind the Gap: The Difference Between Official Car CO2 Test Results and Real World Emissions in 2014, Mercedes led the pack with “real-world fuel consumption exceeding test results by nearly half.” Similarly, attempts to remedy fuel consumption in Opel/Vauxhall cars (owned by GM Motors) have been ineffective say the report authors, and their fuel economy “is actually getting worse.” The organization also notes that while these discoveries don’t necessarily suggest that defeat devices were used in these cars, “EU governments must extend probes into defeat devices to CO2 tests and petrol cars too.”

The gap between real-world road test results and what is published from lab tests “has become a chasm,” the report’s authors write. The organization warns that, without action by regulatory agencies, the gap “will likely grow to 50 percent on average by 2020.”

Internal Carbon Accounting at a Small Liberal Arts College

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As colleges and universities pursue greenhouse gas reductions, it has become clear that some approach is necessary for putting a price on carbon emissions and communicating that cost to energy users on campus. A carbon charge or carbon tax is one approach to establishing a price signal to which the community could respond in making energy use decisions. This approach has been widely used in the context of corporate and state governance. We investigated the theoretical factors that should influence implementation of a carbon charge at a small liberal arts college and discussed the multiple approaches to collecting and distributing funds. Questions of data collection and accounting remain but we conclude that setting an institutional price on carbon supports the call for increased action on climate change and utilizes the position of privilege colleges have to inspire positive social change on their campus and communities.

Power plants challenged by carbon capture and storage

Read the full story from Tribune Live.

The Obama administration’s push to cut greenhouse gas pollution from power plants by nearly a third over the next 15 years has the energy industry taking another look at carbon capture and storage techniques.

Known as CCS, the process of taking carbon dioxide from plant emissions and injecting it underground has not been used on a large commercial scale in the United States, partly because of high projected costs. Utah-based Sustainable Energy Solutions, though, thinks its Cryogenic Carbon Capture technology, which freezes the pollutant for storage, could make CCS installation more feasible for power plants.


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