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Greenhouse gases nearing highly dangerous levels, study finds

Greenhouse gases nearing highly dangerous levels, study finds | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — Emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are growing at such a rate that the world will probably exceed a safe limit in average global temperatures by the end of the century and veer into a higher temperature zone that would...
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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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Welcome to Sustainability Science

Welcome to Sustainability Science | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Welcome to my curation site for the emerging science of sustainability.

 

Here you will find an array of stories, examples, relevant cautionary tales, and data related to our hunt for a more sustainable economy with a reduced ecological footprint.  While my students, colleagues and I are interested in all aspects of sustainability, these pages have an historc emphasis on:

 

- human population growth rates/demography 

- product design/construction, especially:

    - triple bottomline

    - life cycle analyses (LCA)

    - sustainable supply chains

 - carbon footprints (especially carbon "finprints" of seafood)

 - food production/distribution systems

 - energy production/storage systems, especially:

    - dams and flow diversions

    - wind turbines

    - tidal power

    - solar panel efficiency/material advances

    - fuel cell design/material advances

 - general building design/construction, especially:

     - green roof/wall construction and plant palletes

     - lighting systems

     - elegant design

     - redevelopment/reuse

 - urban planning

 - role of mobile technology in fostering sustainability

 - elegant and effective communication

 

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and let me know if I can answer any questions or be of any other help.

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To End Food Waste, Change Needs To Begin At Home

To End Food Waste, Change Needs To Begin At Home | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The U.S. throws out 35 million tons of food each year. While many restaurants, supermarkets and processors are taking responsibility, many consumers aren't. An EPA pilot program aims to change that.
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40 Percent Of The World's Cropland Is In Or Near Cities

40 Percent Of The World's Cropland Is In Or Near Cities | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Just how much of the world's cropland can we really call urban? That's been a big mystery until now.

 

Now, a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters has an answer: Somewhere around 1.1 billion acres is being cultivated for food in or within about 12 miles (20 kilometers) of cities. Most of that land is on the periphery of cities, but 16.6 percent of these urban farms are in open spaces within the municipal core.


Via Seth Dixon
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Christopher L. Story's curator insight, November 18, 7:58 AM

As our course moves towards urbanization...interesting

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Are electric cars greener than traditional gas-powered cars? Depends on where you live.

Are electric cars greener than traditional gas-powered cars? Depends on where you live. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Nowhere do automakers sell more hybrid vehicles than California, with its unique combination of environmental consciousness, high gas prices and traffic-choked highways.

But new hybrid models will be in short supply at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show — one sign that the technology is still struggling to break out of its green-car niche, experts say.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

There is nothing new about this analyses, but it is an updating of older efforts with the most recent numbers out there.  It is true that using coal-fired power to juice your your car is problematic, but for most of the county (e.g. coastal areas) most of us would be better off switching to electric transportation systems.  Also, the best possible solution is to power our vehicles with locally-generated power, such as roof top or garage-top solar panels.  

 

The trick is getting this into everyone's hands in a easy, turn-key manner.  I think the tone of this piece misses that key point.  This is an evolving conversation and new technology.  It also needs to be one part of a broad spectrum of approaches to de-carbonizing our energy markets.  Falling back onto the old mantra of "it doesn't work everywhere all the time" is a bit ho-hum and overly simplistic.  Kind of the way some folks feel it is necessary to write an op-ed about their research to get increased attention for it.

 

For those interested in the actual study, you can find it here:

 

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~mansur/papers/GraffZivin_Kotchen_Mansur_MargEmit.pdf

 

There is also an interesting story, in a similar vein, from the LA Times about faltering gas-electric hybrid vehicles at this week's LA Auto show:

 

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-la-auto-show-no-hybrids-20141121-story.html

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Earthster: A Metric Tool for Leaders in the Age of Transparency

The age of ecological transparency is nigh. Business leaders now must learn to embrace “externalities” (like pollution) and work to lessen them, as Christopher Meyer and Julia Kirby argued in the Harvard Business Review last month. If this is our emerging business reality, here’s a hot tip: look into Earthster.org. Earthster represents an emerging generation […]
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SimaPro - World's Leading LCA Software Package | PRé Sustainability

SimaPro - World's Leading LCA Software Package | PRé Sustainability | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Get the metrics you need to make solid decisions about sustainability. Improve your product's life cycle and help meet your company's sustainability goals.
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It's Still Too Early For Tanking Oil Prices To Curb U.S. Drilling

It's Still Too Early For Tanking Oil Prices To Curb U.S. Drilling | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The U.S. is now the world's largest oil producer, and some worry that falling prices could mean an industry slowdown. But with production costs also falling, drillers are unlikely to cut back soon.
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Pilot study reveals new findings about microplastics in wastewater

Pilot study reveals new findings about microplastics in wastewater | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Treatment plants cannot completely keep microplastics out of wastewater by conventional means. This is one of the results of a pilot study commissioned by the regional water association of Oldenburg and Ostfriesland, Germany (OOWV) and the Lower Saxony Water Management, Coastal Defence and Nature Conservation ...

Via Anita Woodruff
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Earth Focus: Neonicotinoids: The New DDT?

Earth Focus: Neonicotinoids: The New DDT? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
(Earth Focus: Episode 69) Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. But they've been linked to the decline of honeybees, which pollinate many food crops. And scientists now say neonicotinoids also harm many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine invertebrates. These pervasive insecticides damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They kill off insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles

Via Anita Woodruff
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Scientists sound the alarm in climate change report

Scientists sound the alarm in climate change report | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is already affecting life on every continent and in the oceans, and the window is closing rapidly for governments to avert the worst damage expected to occur later this century, scientists warned in one of the loudest alarms yet sounded by the international scientific community.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The most recent IPCC report. 

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Birth Control Enters Mainstream Concern

Birth Control Enters Mainstream Concern | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

This week, a group of researchers promoted a different kind of global approach to addressing climate change: voluntary family planning.

Though their proposal may raise eyebrows, researchers at the Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute say what they are advocating will both empower women and preserve the environment. They recently formed a joint working group of health, climate and population experts from around the world. They are drafting a report on how family planning could be incorporated into governments' environmental policy.


Via Garry Rogers, Anita Woodruff
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Garry Rogers's curator insight, October 31, 7:59 PM

Good.  This is long overdue.  Reducing the human population by encouraging birth control will take generations.  In the short term (like in the next five years), we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we must gain control over land use practices.  

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8 foods you're about to lose due to climate change

8 foods you're about to lose due to climate change | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Climate change will be something you can see when you open your refrigerator
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Oh man!  Chocolate, wine, popcorn, cherries, and oysters!  I might as well start losing weight now...

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Event: US Foreign Policy, Climate Change and Natural Resources

Event: US Foreign Policy, Climate Change and Natural Resources | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The World Affairs Council is hosting (and live-streaming) an event tomorrow evening titled: In Pursuit of Prosperity: US Foreign Policy in an Era of Resource Scarcity. It is a timely topic and incl...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

This looks to be a good show, with a foot in both the policy and climate mitigation realms.

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Salad vending machines are coming to L.A.

Salad vending machines are coming to L.A. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
If you're grabbing lunch from a vending machine, chances are it's a soda, instant noodles and a sad, sad turkey sandwich with neon cheese. If there were a machine full of mixed greens, berries, almonds, flax seeds, organic quinoa and spinach, would you bite?
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For Babies, Preterm Birth Is Now The No. 1 Cause Of Death

For Babies, Preterm Birth Is Now The No. 1 Cause Of Death | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
For the first time, the single greatest threat to a newborn's life is not a specific disease. Rather, it's the fact of being born prematurely.
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How Crowdfunding Is Changing the Fashion Business

How Crowdfunding Is Changing the Fashion Business | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

This There's an alternative to mass-produced, off-the-rack retail, and it starts with crowdfunding.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

This has the potential to help make the fashion industry more sustainable/responsive to consumers wishes.

 

But then again, it might not...

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Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment - Carnegie Mellon University

The Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) method estimates the materials and energy resources required for, and the environmental emissions resulting from, activities in our economy.  The EIO-LCA method was theorized and developed by economist Wassily Leontief in the 1970s based on his earlier input-output work from the 1930s for which he received the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Researchers at the Green Design Institute of Carnegie Mellon University operationalized Leontief's method in the mid-1990s, once sufficient computing power was widely available to perform the large-scale matrix manipulations required in real-time.  This website takes the EIO-LCA method and transforms it into a user-friendly on-line tool to quickly and easily evaluate a commodity or service, as well as its supply chain.  The results from the EIO-LCA model and this website are free for non-commercial use and may not be used in other derivative works or websites without permission.
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NREL: U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database Home Page

NREL and its partners created the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database to help life cycle assessment (LCA) practitioners answer questions about environmental impact. This database provides individual gate-to-gate, cradle-to-gate and cradle-to-grave accounting of the energy and material flows into and out of the environment that are associated with producing a material, component, or assembly in the U.S.
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The Simpsons: “Opposites A-Frack”

The Simpsons: “Opposites A-Frack” | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Monty Burns is one of the greatest all-time TV villains, his position at the center of all Springfield’s evils allowing him to embody whatever plutocratic wickedness the Simpsons’ writers want to take a whack at. This week, Monty’s all about padding his inestimable wealth with fracking, the controve
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Congratulations, Voters. You Just Made This Climate Denier the Most Powerful Senator on the Environment.

Congratulations, Voters. You Just Made This Climate Denier the Most Powerful Senator on the Environment. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
He wrote an entire book calling global warming "the greatest hoax."

Via clare wormald
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Good times.  Here come the flat earthers!

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Ancient Wisdom | Defenders of Wildlife

Ancient Wisdom | Defenders of Wildlife | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Nearly a quarter century ago, L. David Mech made a pair of bold predictions about the challenges still awaiting wolves in the American West. As he and I stood on a bluff in Yellowstone National Park discussing what was then the highly unlikely prospect that the howls of Canis lupus would ever be common again in the Northern Rockies, my home region, the world’s foremost wolf biologist demonstrated foresight that now seems profoundly prophetic.

“Bringing back wolves will be difficult,” he said. “And if it happens, it would be momentous. But then the real test begins. Has society moved past its historical prejudices attached to these animals or is the hysteria destined to be repeated again? To me, that will be the true gauge of whether Americans have become smarter about our relationship with wolves.”

Then he added something else: Maybe the only group of citizens who fully understand the native importance of wolves on the landscape is native people.

Via Anita Woodruff
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Water-Thirsty Golf Courses Need to Go Green

Water-Thirsty Golf Courses Need to Go Green | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
There are about 16,000 golf courses in the United States, and they all need huge amounts of water. The sport must take notice of limited resources and develop courses that are more in harmony with the environment.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Water, water, everywhere...or at least for Golf Courses.

 

Here are some more California-centric and more recent numbers:

 

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20140404/how-southern-california-golf-courses-are-managing-water-use-during-a-drought

 

http://www2.gcsaa.org/gcm/2005/oct/pdfs/green_67-72_oct.pdf

 

The latter suggests that for SoCal courses we are using something like 350,000 or so gallons per day, but the stated restrictions suggest golf courses are using something like 20% less water in recent months owing to the scarcity of water.  This would put such courses at something like 280,000 gallons per day.

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Saharan Solar Power Opens Energy Corridor to Europe

Saharan Solar Power Opens Energy Corridor to Europe | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Called the TuNur project; developers, including renewable investment co
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The Independent Oil Producer You Usually Don't Hear From

The Independent Oil Producer You Usually Don't Hear From | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Most Americans feel relieved when they see a drop in prices at the pump. Jason Bruns feels the opposite. A higher price of oil is good for him. He owns 10 oil wells in Kansas that produce about two barrels a day.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The view of oil production from a tea-cup per day oil producer.

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Three Airlines In Australia Just Inadvertently Demonstrated That Carbon Taxes Work

Three Airlines In Australia Just Inadvertently Demonstrated That Carbon Taxes Work | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
When the tax passed, all three airlines said they'd have to hike their ticket prices. Now that Australia has repealed the policy, all three say they never had to pass additional costs on to their consumers.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

This gets filed under the "I want what I want, damn the facts."  Or perhaps "have cake, and eat it too."

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South Florida City Votes To Secede In Last-Ditch Effort To Avoid Being Swallowed By The Sea

South Florida City Votes To Secede In Last-Ditch Effort To Avoid Being Swallowed By The Sea | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The resolution -- like all other secession attempts in the U.S., apart from the one in 1775 -- isn't likely to make it very far. But the three South Miami councilmembers who voted for the resolution still think sea level rise is serious enough to make the secession statement.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Wow, perhaps a few folks in Florida are actually getting serious about climate change.

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