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Trends in Sustainability
An observation of sustainable trends, thinking, solutions and opinions.
Curated by Olive Ventures
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One of Us

One of Us | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness. On what seems like a monthly basis, scientific teams announce the results of new experiments, adding to a preponderance of evidence that we’ve been underestimating animal minds, even those of us who have rated them fairly highly. New animal behaviors and capacities are observed in the wild, often involving tool use—or at least object manipulation—the very kinds of activity that led the distinguished zoologist Donald R. Griffin to found the field of cognitive ethology (animal thinking) in 1978: octopuses piling stones in front of their hideyholes, to name one recent example; or dolphins fitting marine sponges to their beaks in order to dig for food on the seabed; or wasps using small stones to smooth the sand around their egg chambers, concealing them from predators. At the same time neurobiologists have been finding that the physical structures in our own brains most commonly held responsible for consciousness are not as rare in the animal kingdom as had been assumed. Indeed they are common. All of this work and discovery appeared to reach a kind of crescendo last summer, when an international group of prominent neuroscientists meeting at the University of Cambridge issued “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals,” a document stating that “humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” It goes further to conclude that numerous documented animal behaviors must be considered “consistent with experienced feeling states.”

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Spin City

Spin City | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Let’s face it. Singapore isn’t known for trendsetting—we’re more we-like-it-if-you-like-it kind of folk. But we do pride ourselves on being green. And in shape. We don’t like falling behind in world rankings. And we certainly don’t have a problem throwing money and manpower at something if we think it’ll add to the country’s appeal. So the fact that cycling here is largely relegated to weekend warriors and hipster kids on their fixies is truly baffling. There’s no shortage of cyclists (the upcoming fifth edition of OCBC Cycle Singapore is expecting some 12,000 participants), but a real dearth of day-to-day cycling; the kind that makes you think, “You know what? I’m going to start biking to work, too!”

 

Over the past decade, cities like Copenhagen, Portland and even London (which not too long ago pretty much viewed bicycles as a public nuisance) have embraced urban cycling—and in particular cycling to work—as the kind of eco-friendly, health-promoting,  good-news-all-round initiative worth promoting as much as possible. And, in so doing, those cities have been transformed. To visit them now is to accept cycling as part of the essential infrastructure of any great city—there are bikes everywhere and (seemingly) everybody bikes. Yet, here in Singapore, cycling remains resolutely a recreational activity. The city features on precisely none of the world’s best cycling cities lists, despite being far less congested than London, flatter than Amsterdam, smaller and easier to navigate than Paris, and with lower petty theft rates than pretty much anywhere on the planet. Most people here look at you in bafflement when you suggest cycling to work; yet they’ll happily chew your ear off complaining about MRT breakdowns, unavailable taxis and extortionate COE rates. Why is that? Inertia, laziness—or something more fundamental? And what can be done to turn all this around?

 

In our view, there’s an opportunity here for Singapore to lead the region in promoting a truly green transport solution and building a happier, healthier city; but it’ll require a concerted push, and a change in attitude from both the government and you, the people.

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China will include hybrid vehicles in its subsidy programme

China will include hybrid vehicles in its subsidy programme | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

China’s industry minister said the country is considering a wider state subsidy for gasoline-electric vehicles and other fuel-efficient vehicles to boost the sales of electric cars.

 

Miao Wei, minister for industry and information technology told reporters at the National People’s Congress in Beijing that the government should promote hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles than just electric vehicles as it is more “realistic and practical.”

 

“New-energy vehicles are the future,” said Miao. “Fuel-efficient cars are now.”

Miao said the government will introduced the amended policy in the first half, with help from the finance ministry and other government branches.

 

China, which has set an ambitious target of reaching 5 million fuel-efficient vehicles sold by 2020, has only sold a combined 12,791 such vehicles in 2012 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last week, China vehicle manufacturer Geely Holding Group has also urged the government to include hybrids in its subsidy program.

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Disposal of Older Monitors Leaves a Hazardous Trail

Disposal of Older Monitors Leaves a Hazardous Trail | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

As recently as a few years ago, broken monitors and televisions like those piled in the warehouse were being recycled profitably. The big, glassy funnels inside these machines — known as cathode ray tubes, or CRTs — were melted down and turned into new ones.

 

But flat-screen technology has made those monitors and televisions obsolete, decimating the demand for the recycled tube glass used in them and creating what industry experts call a “glass tsunami” as stockpiles of the useless material accumulate across the country.

 

The predicament has highlighted how small changes in the marketplace can suddenly transform a product into a liability and demonstrates the difficulties that federal and state environmental regulators face in keeping up with these rapid shifts.

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This, is The World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant

This, is The World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, Shams 1, launched on Sunday, representing a major milestone in the development of renewable energy in the Middle East. Taking three years to build, the $600m plant is located in Abu Dhabi’s western region, the heart of the UAE’s hydrocarbon industry. At full capacity, the 100 megawatt Masdar, Total and Abengoa joint-project will power thousands of homes in the United Arab Emirates and displace 175,000 tons of CO2 a year.

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Nuclear Power: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't?

Nuclear Power: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't? | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

To some critics, there is no riskier source of electricity than nuclear power. For others, nuclear power's minimal greenhouse gas footprint makes it a vital alternative to carbon-belching coal and natural gas in the pitched battle to curb climate change -- and a far more reliable energy source, at least for now, than wind and solar power. To still others, nuclear power's advantages in the carbon war are eclipsed by the crippling economics of getting a nuclear power plant built, making it a prohibitive and wasteful investment.

 

Everyone is right.

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Climate Change Casualties: Honey, Coffee, Chocolate

Climate Change Casualties: Honey, Coffee, Chocolate | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The first couple weeks of March have brought a spate of disturbing climate change results. Humans are clever problem solvers and exceptional toolmakers. It's crucial for our species to prepare for what's ahead by lowering carbon emissions and future-proofing towns and cities worldwide.

 

Let's look at some of this new information and then examine its impacts specifically on three important and lucrative world commodities.

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SGX pushing for greater sustainability disclosure

SGX pushing for greater sustainability disclosure | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is reviewing its policies to push for greater sustainability disclosure.

 

A recent SGX and KPMG study revealed a lack of genuine commitment to embrace sustainability either strategically or holistically.

 

The SGX will introduce more tools to help listed companies in their sustainability reporting. It is also exploring the possibility of setting up a Singapore Sustainability Index.

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China Eyes a Carbon Tax

China Eyes a Carbon Tax | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

With the idea of a carbon tax starting to get more attention in Washington, word now comes from Beijing that the Chinese government is thinking seriously about putting the idea into practice.

 

A senior official from China’s Ministry of Finance recently described plans for a national carbon tax as part of a new package of environmental protection taxes. The new package, which would replace existing pollution discharge fees, would also include taxes to encourage conservation of coal and water.

 

The level of the carbon tax has not yet been set, but recent proposals suggest a modest range of 10 Yuan ($1.50) per metric ton of carbon dioxide, rising to around 50 Yuan ($7.90) per metric ton by 2020. In comparison, Australia implemented a carbon price of $23 AUD ($23.73) per metric ton in July 2012, while prices in California’s cap-and-trade program were between $10 and $15 in last month’s allowance auction.

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This is what farms will look like in the future

This is what farms will look like in the future | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

As the world's human population grows, we're reducing the amount of agricultural areas and forests. That's why some architects are working on concepts for sustainable skyscrapers and vertical agricultural buildings. Here are some of the most interesting plans for the merging of the city and the farm.

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How to manipulate CO2 emissions and fuel economy

How to manipulate CO2 emissions and fuel economy | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Drivers who find that the fuel efficiency in their new car doesn’t match up to the claims made by the manufacturer, now know it is not their driving to blame. A new report reveals that carmakers routinely manipulate official UN-backed miles/gallons tests, with a series of tricks including stripping the car down to weigh as little as possible, overinflating the tyres and testing in the thin air at high-altitude tracks.

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What is an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System?

What is an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System? | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised standard with guidance for environmental management. ISO 14001 is intended to provide the elements of an Environmental Management System (EMS) for achieving environmental and economic goals. The standard is applicable to all types of organisations. The overall aim of ISO 14001 is to ensure environmental protection and prevention of pollution – in balance with socio-economic needs. In this article I provide an overview of the scope of ISO 14001 as well as outline the key elements covered in an EMS. 

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The Good Climate Change Infographic

The Good Climate Change Infographic | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Good list of climate change outcomes.

Olive Ventures's insight:

See more of such interestingness on our Tumblr: oliveventures.tumblr.com

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Why geoengineering has immediate appeal to China

Why geoengineering has immediate appeal to China | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The political dilemma over geoengineering – deliberate, large-scale intervention in the climate system designed to counter global warming or offset some of its effects – will perhaps be most acute in China.

 

In December, the country listed geoengineering among its Earth science research priorities, in a marked shift in the international climate change landscape noticed by China specialists Kingsley Edney and Jonathan Symons.

 

On the one hand, China's rapid economic growth has seen a huge escalation in its greenhouse gas emissions, which on an annual basis overtook those of the United States five years ago. Sustained GDP growth provides China's Communist party with its only claim to legitimacy, its "mandate of heaven". China's efforts to constrain the growth of its emissions have been substantial, and certainly put to shame those of many developed nations.

 

Yet neither China's efforts nor those of other countries over the next two or three decades are likely to do much to slow the warming of the globe, nor halt the climate disruption that will follow. Global emissions have not been declining or even slowing. In fact, global emissions are accelerating. Even the World Bank, which for years has been criticised for promoting carbon-intensive development, now warns that we are on track for 4C of warming, which would change everything.

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Forum for the Future: sustainability shouldn't focus on deprivation (Wired UK)

Forum for the Future: sustainability shouldn't focus on deprivation (Wired UK) | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

If we want a more sustainable world, achieved through and driven by popularised digital technologies, we need to reframe the conversation and make it less about depriving ourselves of the things we like. This was the argument posed by members of a panel at sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future's "Is your business wired for change conference", held in conjunction with design consultancy firm Fjord.

 

Changing the conversation is key, but it's part of a bigger nut we've not yet cracked -- the human element that will turn big ideas into uptake and real change.

 

"It has to be a better world, but everything [around sustainability] is about depriving yourself," said Carmel McQuaid, climate change manager for Marks & Spencer. "Less fun, less status, less success, that's the message. Less citizens liking you and voting for you because you're asking them to pay [sustainability-linked] taxes."

 

Until sustainability experts stop being "preachy" and focus on the human element that will ultimately define a particular initiative's success of failure, we won't get anywhere near that better world. Technology is not the solution, McQuaid argued, it's how that technology is positioned in a very human and approachable way that will generate change.

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Farmers and scientists: better together in the fight against climate change | CGIAR Climate

Farmers and scientists: better together in the fight against climate change | CGIAR Climate | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

We all know the challenges. How will we produce enough food to feed 9 billion people in the not-so-distant future, and not destroy the environment while doing so? So many more people to feed, escalating food and energy prices, water shortages, a changing climate. And the list goes on. What you don’t often hear is what can be done about it.

 

We need to see major changes in how food is grown and distributed. In Africa and Asia, where millions of families live on one to five hectares of land, we need to see improved farming systems. In fact, we need to see transformative changes, not small changes.

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Bringing Extinct Species Back to Life - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine

Bringing Extinct Species Back to Life - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The notion of bringing vanished species back to life—some call it de-extinction—has hovered at the boundary between reality and science fiction for more than two decades, ever since novelist Michael Crichton unleashed the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park on the world. For most of that time the science of de-extinction has lagged far behind the fantasy. Celia’s clone is the closest that anyone has gotten to true de-extinction. Since witnessing those fleeting minutes of the clone’s life, Fernández-Arias, now the head of the government of Aragon’s Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands department, has been waiting for the moment when science would finally catch up, and humans might gain the ability to bring back an animal they had driven extinct.

 

“We are at that moment,” he told me.

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Eduardo Carriazo's curator insight, May 13, 9:09 AM

I picked this because it explains  why scientists want to bring back these animals.Also why they  vanished .How they are going to bring back the animals . 

Eduardo Carriazo's curator insight, May 15, 9:16 AM

This article explains the vanishing of animals.Also it explains that humans might  Gain the ability to bring back an animal that we have driven extinct.I recommend this article because it explains  why scientists want to do de extinction.

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Introducing Instep Greenscore Product Lifecycle Assessment Programme

Introducing Instep Greenscore Product Lifecycle Assessment Programme | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Greenscore is a Product Carbon Footprint Programme based around ISO14067.(Carbon footprint of products – Requirements and guidelines for quantification and communication). This is a new standard currently in draft form and due for publication in 2014.

 

Greenscore offers a step by step scientific approach that allows product producers to review findings on a regular basis, and decide at what point the programme delivers what they, or their clients require.

 

In other words, we make Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) less daunting, customisable and cost effective. 

Olive Ventures's insight:

Get in touch to find out more: http://www.oliveventures.com.sg/about-us.php

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New Rules Are Needed For Geoengineering Research, Experts Say

New Rules Are Needed For Geoengineering Research, Experts Say | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

“This deadlock poses real threats to sound management of climate risk,” write Harvard University climate scientist David Keith and UCLA environmental law expert Edward Parson. “Geoengineering may be needed to limit severe future risks, so informed policy judgments require research on its efficacy and risks."

 

Without that research, the world could face “unrefined, untested and excessively risky approaches” if climate change intensifies to the point that governments consider fighting it with geoengineering approaches, Parson and Keith said.

 

The researchers, who say the global debate over geoengineering is increasingly polarized, recommend that governments begin coordinating small-scale geoengineering research and block, at least for now, large-scale experiments.

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Ocean plankton sponge up nearly twice the carbon currently assumed

Ocean plankton sponge up nearly twice the carbon currently assumed | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised, according to new work by UC Irvine and other scientists published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience. Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought, they found. Global marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated. Carbon dioxide is the leading driver of disruptive climate change.

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5 Reasons Green Marketing Is Going Nowhere

5 Reasons Green Marketing Is Going Nowhere | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Green marketing’s failure hasn’t been for lack of trying. Activists, community groups, government agencies, faith-based organizations, schools, scout troops, universities, and, of course, companies have been encouraging shoppers to make greener choices for years. And, as I’ve written about ad nauseum, pollsters and market researchers have fueled the fire, telling us all the while that large numbers of consumers want to make green choices when possible. A few do. But not many, and not often.

 

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Companies' marketing efforts have been largely half-hearted, humorless and uninspired. Green products themselves have been variously underwhelming, overpriced, inconvenient, ineffective or unavailable. Too often, green marketers have attempted to prod consumers to act by relying on guilt or by encouraging people to “save the Earth,” neither of which has turned out to be particularly aspirational or appealing.

 

And consumers have made it crystal clear: They don't want to change, at least in the name of Mother Earth or the greater good. Of course, we change our buying and lifestyle choices all the time: how we communicate (email, mobile phones, texting, Twitter), how we shop (what's a “record store”?), what we eat and drink (“functional foods,” anyone?), and what we drive and wear and do. But those choices benefit us personally, today -- not some far-off forest or future.

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‘Invisible Wires’ for Transporting Electricity on SolarWindows

‘Invisible Wires’ for Transporting Electricity on SolarWindows | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The company and NREL have some new announcements now. Their scientists “have successfully collected and transported electricity using a virtually ‘invisible’ conductive wiring system developed for SolarWindow™.” In other words, they’re really getting there.


“Currently under ongoing development, the conductive system’s ultra-fine grid-like pattern is deposited on to SolarWindow™ and is rendered virtually invisible when viewing objects through New Energy’s electricity-generating glass. Researchers anticipate that a fully functional system could help transport the electricity generated on glass surfaces, improving power, efficiency, and overall performance of the Company’s SolarWindow™.”

 

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Earth Hour 2013 in Singapore

Earth Hour 2013 in Singapore | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Still planning your Earth Hour activity for 23 March? Think no more, come DANCE 2 POWER EARTH HOUR! Bust your dance moves on our energy-absorbing pads, and this kinetic energy will be converted to electricity to power a film screening at the Earth Hour event!

 

Incredible way to re-imagine sustainability! Sign up now: http://globalsignin.com.sg/registration/wwf_earthhour2013/?newsignin

Olive Ventures's insight:

btw, we’ll be delivering the Instep Sustainable Events Programme (more info at www.oliveventures.com.sg/act), surveying the transport  methods of the event attendees. See you there!

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New restrictions bite Hong Kong shark fin traders

New restrictions bite Hong Kong shark fin traders | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

A conservation victory restricting global trade in more shark species will take a fresh bite at Hong Kong's market in fins, which has already been hit hard by persistent attacks from anti-fin campaigners.

 

Defiant fin merchants insisted the impact of the restrictions would be minimal as they would continue to import other species not covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement. And a local anti-fin lobby group warned the measures, which aim to protect the oceanic whitetip shark, the porbeagle and three types of hammerhead, would be hard to enforce.

 

But traders in the southern Chinese city, one of the world's biggest markets for shark fins, which are used to make an expensive gelatinous soup, have already suffered from successful environmental campaigning.

 

New figures show shark fin imports dropped off dramatically last year to 3,351 tonnes from 10,340 tonnes in 2011, after some prominent Hong Kong hotels and restaurants struck it from their menus.

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A Breathalyzer Test For Stomach Cancer

A Breathalyzer Test For Stomach Cancer | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Cancer smells. In fact, dogs have proven both anecdotally and in research studies that they can sniff it out. Now, thanks to a stomach cancer breath test developed by researchers in China and Israel, humans can too.

 

A stomach-cancer-sniffing device made out of nanomaterials, described in the British Journal of Cancer, was tested on 130 patients with varying stomach issues. It was over 90% accurate in sussing out cancer (by sniffing its chemical profile), and 90% accurate in figuring out the staging of the cancers as well

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