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The World Is Sitting On A Consumption Time Bomb

The World Is Sitting On A Consumption Time Bomb | Zero Footprint |

May 23, 2013 Conservation International Blog - Human Nature

China and the United States must undertake joint initiatives as populations grow and increase their demands on nature.


The world is sitting on a consumption time bomb. More consumers, higher consumption and more material intensity, coupled with diminishing supplies of natural capital, add up to a planet that is dangerously overspent and veering towards ecological bankruptcy in the not-too-distant future.

China and the United States — the two largest consuming nations with combined GDPs comprising one-third of global Gross Domestic Product — find themselves at the center of a potential catastrophe, in which human demand outspends Earth’s supplies....


May 28, 2013 Scientific America
THE EMERGING FIELD OF HUMAN MACROECOLOGY : Macroecology considers the human species as functioning within the constraints of the natural world, rather than being uniquely divorced from natural resource limitations. This conceptual approach cuts across disciplines ranging from physics and ecology to anthropology and economics (Burnside et al. 2012), creating the opportunity for unprecedented synergy between fields...


May 27, 2013 Truthout


May 28, 2013 Common Dreams - Robert Reich






Via pdjmoo
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The increase in population is small relative to the necessary decrease in unsustainable consumption based on non-renewable resources.  We waste enough now to provide for the 30% increase in population, but we must reduce pollution all the way down to 0 and replace it with 100% recycling, and we must reduce fossil fuel consumption all the way down to 0 and replace it with 100% renewable energy.

Wildlife Margrit's comment, May 28, 2013 11:57 AM
We as humans keep taking giving so very little back to the earth that gives us life...
Wildlife Margrit's comment, July 4, 2013 8:58 PM
Thanks Daniel for your insights
pdjmoo's curator insight, October 2, 2014 9:38 PM

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY NEWS AGGREGATES [url=/u/179070 x-already-notified=1]pdjmoo[/url]







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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030

Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030 | Zero Footprint |

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College. A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage—which we did by an exhaustive search—and to calculate costs correctly.”

Unlike other studies, the model focused on minimizing costs instead of the traditional approach of matching generation to electricity use. The researchers found that generating more electricity than needed during average hours—in order to meet needs on high-demand but low-wind power hours—would be cheaper than storing excess power for later high demand.


“Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90 percent reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings,” the authors observe.

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Hawaii is On Course to Go 100% Renewable by 2040 -

Hawaii is On Course to Go 100% Renewable by 2040 - | Zero Footprint |
The sun-drenched state is about to strengthen its energy legislation to require 100 percent renewable energy by 2040


“Even our utility is saying we can hit 65 percent by 2030, so 100 percent is definitely doable,” Sen. Mike Gabbard (D), sponsor of the Senate bill.

As recently six years ago, more than 90 percent of Hawaii’s yearly electricity generation came from coal and oil. With renewable technologies rapidly advancing, Hawaii’s abundant solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal sources are moving in quickly as replacements for costly fossil fuels.

“We shouldn’t forget that Hawaii has some of the world’s steadiest wind resources, sun that shines almost every day, waves that pound our shores, and a volcano in our back yard,” he said. “So if anywhere can solve these challenges, Hawaii can.”

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» Carbon-Sequestering Agriculture

» Carbon-Sequestering Agriculture | Zero Footprint |

To save the planet we may need to turn it into an edible paradise…


Climate change is already making our planet less inhabitable, with droughts, floods, and severe weather events on the rise. Stabilizing the climate is perhaps the central challenge for humanity in the early decades of this century. Globally, a massive switch to regenerative practices, perennial crops, and regional self-reliance are essential to sequester carbon and reduce emissions. 

Stabilizing the Climate with “Permanent Agriculture”

Trees are one of our most powerful tools to pull carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil for long-term storage. This is why reforestation and protecting intact forests are such important parts of plans to address climate change. 


Trees are fundamentally more efficient than annual crops, with greater net primary productivity. 

Intuitively it makes sense that forest-like agriculture will sequester carbon somewhat like a “real” forest. 

The amounts sequestered vary hugely, depending on several variables.  Allowing for these factors, Nair and Montagnini report estimates of the world carbon storage potential of agroforestry ranging from 9 to 228 tons of carbon/hectare under different circumstances – tremendous variation. They report an estimate of current sequestration by agroforestry at 1 million tons/year. Their document estimates the amount of land that could be converted to agroforestry practices as roughly 585 million to 1.2 billion hectares (the U.S. including Alaska is 770 million hectares).

Even at a fairly conservative 25 ton/hectare average, that would sequester 14-20 billion tons – over its lifetime as much as 10% of the total 200 billion tons many experts estimate needs to be removed from the atmosphere even if we stop emissions tomorrow.


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Divestment is Working. Now It’s Time To Escalate the Fight

Divestment is Working. Now It’s Time To Escalate the Fight | Zero Footprint |

It seems that every day now there’s another editorial, study, rant—even animations!—criticizing the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The pieces, usually written by lobbyists associated with fossil fuel companies, stodgy academics, or conservative politicians, usually cite the same arguments: divestment won’t make a financial difference, it’s a distraction from the “real work” of climate solutions, the world needs fossil fuels and we should be thanking Exxon for their generosity in providing them, etc.


When you hear someone shouting “those people don’t matter!” it’s usually a good sign that “those people” are beginning to make a serious impact. Which is exactly what the divestment campaign is doing.  Everywhere you look, the campaign is spreading like wildfire.

This is especially exciting at the international level. This February 13th and 14th, is hosting Global Divestment Day, a series of events around the world to highlight just how global the divestment fight has become. 

Thanks to the amazing activism of all these people around the world, the divestment campaign is having exactly the impact that we hoped it would. Together, we’ve begun to chip away at the industry’s social license, successfully turning Big Oil into a pariah industry like Big Tobacco.

Now, it’s time for us to turn up the heat. On Global Divestment Day, people around the world are going to be taking action on their campuses, in their communities, or at their places of worship, to push public institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

Solving the climate crisis is a race against the clock. In the fight against climate chaos, there is such a thing as ‘too late.’ Over the last year, the divestment movement has hit its stride. Now, it’s time to pick up the pace.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

What are you doing to divest yourself from fossil fuels?

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Solar and wind will be cheapest form of electricity in Asia

Solar and wind will be cheapest form of electricity in Asia | Zero Footprint |

A new study has found that renewable energy systems will prove to be the most economically viable in the future, specifying that solar and wind will prove the cheapest forms of energy production for Asia’s largest energy markets by the end of the next ten years.

The study, conducted by the Lappeenranta University of Technology, shows that North-East Asia and China will particularly benefit from switching entirely to renewable energy systems over the next 5 to 10 years.

The report presents a “spatially and hourly resolved energy system model” that shows how 100% renewable energy could work in the region, interconnected by a high voltage transmission grid.

“Economic viability” has long been an issue in the minds of those looking to transition Asian regions to renewable energy. It has only been over the past 18 months that solar and wind have started measuring comparably with traditional energy generation methods — but the good news is that many believe the economic viability of solar and wind will continue to increase, past where traditional generation techniques sit. 

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14 High-Profile CEOs Want To Rid The Global Economy Of Carbon Emissions By 2050

14 High-Profile CEOs Want To Rid The Global Economy Of Carbon Emissions By 2050 | Zero Footprint |

Fourteen high-profile business leaders and CEOs are calling on international leaders to agree to a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2050, arguing the ambitious goal would lead to “new jobs, cleaner air, better health, lower poverty and greater energy security.”

The group also urged business leaders to commit to emitting the equivalent of no carbon emissions in their long-term plans. A net-zero goal would mean dramatically reducing emissions while offsetting any remaining emissions with actions that reduce or absorb greenhouse gas pollution, like planting trees, using technologies that capture carbon, or funding clean energy ventures.


They acknowledged that the goal would be difficult to meet, but said reducing carbon emissions drastically would be key to unleashing innovation, driving investment in clean energy, and creating jobs. Not to mention, they added, the benefits of avoiding the potentially disastrous side effects of unmitigated climate change.


“A target of net-zero emissions by 2050 is not only desirable but necessary,” Polman said in an accompanying statement. “This is not going to be easy, but the earlier we act, the greater the economic opportunities will be.”

Via SustainOurEarth
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It’s Not Too Late To Stop Climate Change, And It’ll Be Super-Cheap - JOE ROMM

It’s Not Too Late To Stop Climate Change, And It’ll Be Super-Cheap - JOE ROMM | Zero Footprint |
The top climate issue is the cost and consequences of inaction. The science now makes clear failure to very aggressively try to "solve" climate change is not either a rational or moral option for a nation or humanity as a whole. Fortunately, solving climate change is super-cheap!


I rarely disagree with Dave Roberts. But he has a column on Grist, “We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy,” that is wrong, pure and simple.

The most important climate issue is the cost and consequences of inaction. The climate science has now reached the point that one can definitively say failure to very aggressively try to “solve” climate change is not either a rational or moral option for a nation or humanity as a whole. As Dave Roberts himself has explained, “The results of inaction are morally unacceptable. They are also economically unacceptable….”

The always overly-conservative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reviewed the entire literature on the subject and concluded the annual growth loss to preserve a livable climate is 0.06% — and that’s “relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6% and 3% per year.” So we’re talking annual growth of, say 2.24 percent rather than 2.30 percent to save billions and billions of people from needless suffering for decades if not centuries.

Fundamentally these conclusions are not controversial since they are based on a review of the literature, which has been consistent on this subject for a long, long time. Every major independent study has found a remarkably low net cost for climate action — and a high cost for delay. Back in 2011, the International Energy Agency warned “Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”

So yes, solving climate change is “cheap.” It is NOT “easy,” however and I have striven to avoid using that word. When I talk about this I usually say it is “not easy, but straightforward.” And by that I mean “we know precisely what needs to be done and the net cost is quite low,” which is not the case for many other problems facing humanity.

The nation and the world are exceedingly wealthy in pure economic terms. Our (US) GDP is some $17 trillion. The global GDP is around $75 trillion. So something that required the world to spend, say, $1 trillion a year would have to be considered cheap, assuming you got reasonable value in return (like, say, not destroying a livable climate for the next thousand years).

While economic modeling is pretty good at overestimating the cost of environmental action (because it is lousy at anticipating innovation), it is equally good at underestimating the cost of inaction, since is hard to put a price on, say, Dust-Bowlifying one third of the currently habited and arable landmass of the planet, which is what 4C would do.

Via John Casey
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

There really should be no debate that we MUST act, and fast.  The fact that it won't even cost us that much is all the more reason we should not delay.  Who benefits by further delays?

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Top Renewable Energy Author “Bullish” on the Future

Top Renewable Energy Author “Bullish” on the Future | Zero Footprint |
"There are many possible events that could accelerate the demise of fossil fuels—but none is required to phase them out in favor of renewables, a process that will be driven primarily by pure market economics—and far faster than most people understand." - Craig Shields, 2015


Though Craig Shields was pleased that his first two books became #1 best-sellers in their respective categories on, looking back, he has some reservations about their content.

With his current release, however, all that has changed.  “Bullish on Renewable Energy - Fourteen Reasons Why Clean Energy Investors Can’t Lose” takes a radically different tack.   [...] the book points to a remarkable truth: according to Shields, “The battle has been won. The forces of market economics are in the process of changing so rapidly that planet Earth is headed for a clean energy future far faster than anyone could have predicted.”

80% of the world’s energy is derived from burning hydrocarbons—processes that are clearly unsustainable—but I contend that we’re living in a time where fossil fuels will be replaced with clean energy in a very short period of time. But the final nail in the coffin of fossil fuels will prove to be simple economics, rather than changing public sensibilities.  ... Under the right conditions (that are becoming more prevalent every day), we can generate clean energy far less expensively than we can generate electricity with coal-fired power plants. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The inevitable demise of the fossil fuel industry can't happen soon enough.  How long will it take?  Since declining renewable energy prices are becoming increasingly more competitive than fossil fuels, the transition to 100% renewable energy is likely to happen as fast as the renewable energy sector can ramp up.   If we merely continue the growth rates we've seen over the last several years, we could be there in as little as 15 years.

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Expert energy council to advise policy-makers on 100% renewables

Expert energy council to advise policy-makers on 100% renewables | Zero Footprint |
Group of 12 experts launch International Energy Advisory Council to advise governments on how best to ditch fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewables.


“The world no longer needs or wants centralised energy, fossil fuel or nuclear power plants, and we believe that 100% renewable energy systems are achievable based on a combination of energy efficiency measures and local decentralized renewable-energy systems providing the remaining energy requirements,” said Chairman of the IEAC team, the UK’s Allan Jones, in a statement on Monday.

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Scotland Aiming for 100% Clean Energy by 2025 - EcoLocalizer

Scotland Aiming for 100% Clean Energy by 2025 - EcoLocalizer | Zero Footprint |

While the U.S. may aim for a 15% Renewable Energy Standard by 2021, and Northern Ireland has just confirmed a much stronger target of 40% renewable energy by 2020, Scotland is aiming a bit higher. It announced today that it plans to get “at least” 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Wow.


Scotland is planning to export a lot of its clean energy to its neighbor to the south, England, which has lagged behind the rest of Europe on clean energy.

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Sustainability over growth: the paradigm shift at the heart of Green economics

Sustainability over growth: the paradigm shift at the heart of Green economics | Zero Footprint |
With the Green Party now polling at record levels, the predictable media backlash arrived this week.


The major stumbling block appears to be what a Green economy might look like. Many commentators seem to have grabbed hold of the fact that the Green Party, unlike other parties, doesn't condition all of its policies on the premise of economic growth.

First, it is important to point out that Green supporters as a whole reject Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a reliable or informative economic indicator.

GDP is misleading in all sorts of ways. It only measures certain types of transactions that occur within the formal economy, so for example a million pound personal injury claim would contribute to GDP growth whereas unpaid community work wouldn't. 

A Green government would look to different types of economic indictors as barometers for prosperity. For example, it would consider increased growth and technological advancements in priority industries such as renewable energy as a sign of success. On the other hand, growth in sectors that damage our health and social fabric would be seen as a bad thing.

Therefore the key to a Green economy is sustainability, which would always take precedence over growth. The definition of a sustainable economy is one that meets society's current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

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Why solar costs will fall another 40% in just two years

Why solar costs will fall another 40% in just two years | Zero Footprint |
Even the world's biggest fossil fuel producers recognise that solar is winning the cost war. In the next two years, solar costs will fall even further - as much as 40 per cent. Here's how.


It’s been one of the big themes at the World Energy Future Conference here in Abu Dhabi. Solar, and other technologies such as wind power, are no longer more expensive than traditional fossil fuels in many parts of the world. Indeed, they are cheaper.


A day earlier, the International Renewable Energy predicted that solar costs would fall substantially in coming years, underlying its competitiveness with fossil fuels. If government policy makers did not understand this, IRENA said, then they risked making bad decisions about their energy future.


While much of the cost reduction over the last 5-10 years has resulted from polysilicon price reductions, future cost reductions will necessarily come from non panel related balance of system costs.


Inverter and racking cost are also declining.

Installation costs will fall by one third in the US.

Sales/Customer Acquisition Cost will fall even further.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

As renewable energy continues to grow even cheaper, fossil fuel costs are either going to go up because of reduced supply of cheaply exploited resources, or fall due to collapsing demand, or some of both.  Fossil fuels ought to cost enough to pay for the clean up all the CO2 and other pollution that results from burning. But regardless, the encroaching competition from renewable energy will eventually catch up and "clean up".  The question is not whether it will happen but how soon?

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Sustainability challenged as many renewable resources max out

Sustainability challenged as many renewable resources max out | Zero Footprint |

The days of assuming natural resources can be swapped in and out to solve shortages - corn for oil, soy for beef - may be over. An international group of scientists demonstrate that many key resources have peaked in productivity, pointing to the sobering conclusion that "renewable" is not synonymous with "unlimited."


For Jianguo "Jack" Liu, who is director of MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, this is strong reason for integration—to approach sustainability problems holistically, rather than searching for a "one for one" substitution to offset shortages.


"People often talk about substitution. If we run out of one resource, we just substitute another. But if multiple resources are running out, we've got a problem," Liu said.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Bio-renewables have a recovery rate limitation, but wind and solar energy are limited only by how much we can collect at once, which is thousands of times more than we currently need.

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Groundbreaking Permaculture Film Offers Bold New Solution in Regenerative Agriculture » EcoWatch

Groundbreaking Permaculture Film Offers Bold New Solution in Regenerative Agriculture » EcoWatch | Zero Footprint |

Everywhere you hear that we need to minimize our footprint and reduce our impact. But what if we turned that kind of thinking on its head? What if, as Bill McDonough says, instead of trying to be “less bad,” we try to be “more good.” What if our footprints became beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise of a new movie Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective,which will have its worldwide digital premiere on Earth Day, April 22.

Inhabit investigates today’s pressing environmental problems and offers solutions through a permaculture lens. For those who aren’t familiar, permaculture is defined many different ways, but it is generally defined as a method of ecological design that develops regenerative agricultural systems by mimicking natural ecosystems. “Permaculture is a design process that’s applicable in any landscape for any set of objectives,” said the film.

You can watch the trailer at:

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Public Utilities Should Embrace Renewable Energy Revolution, Not Get Run Over By It » EcoWatch

Public Utilities Should Embrace Renewable Energy Revolution, Not Get Run Over By It » EcoWatch | Zero Footprint |

The U.S. electricity sector will be unrecognizable in 20 years. How fast it changes will be a big factor in how large a price is paid for having disrupted climate equilibrium—but it is not the climate threat that will drive the changes.

Three major threats undermine the value of the classic U.S. utility model: big power plants linked to big transmission grids operated by monopoly companies with guaranteed profits.


1. SLUMPING DEMAND:  The historic link between total economic production and electricity demand has shattered. Not only is electricity consumption rising slower than the economy grows, in the U.S. it is actually shrinking.

2. DISECONOMIES OF SCALE AND AGE: Now the arrival of distributed generation—mostly in the form of rooftop solar—is enabling customers to become generators, and to replace precisely those electrons which create utility profits—peak afternoon and early evening load.

3. EMPOWERED CUSTOMERS: Demand response technologies, recruiting consumers whose power needs can be shifted by a few hours to shave peak demand are now a significant part of the total management strategy of many utilities.

They (utilities) have three huge business opportunities the environmental community would love to support. Most of the industry is desperately trying to throw them away.

1. Rooftop solar. Who in the marketplace possesses cheap capital, intimate customer relations with every electricity user, and detailed knowledge about roofs and substations?

2. EV saturation. EV’s are the perfect solution to provide demand growth, while simultaneously enabling balancing load—because the average car is parked 95 percent of the time, available to charge or discharge.

3. The Storage Breakthrough. Having a grid with lots of distributed rooftop solar and demand manageable EV load means that the volume of storage needed is much smaller than would be required to meet the needs of remote solar and wind.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The electric utilities WILL necessarily change, and we can all shift more quickly to 100% renewable energy if we work together.

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Could better soil management reverse global warming?

Could better soil management reverse global warming? | Zero Footprint |
How we manage our soil may be as important as how we generate our energy.


The very things we need to do to adapt to a changing climate are exactly the same actions we need to take to slow down, or even reverse, global warming in the first place.


During his keynote, Peter Bane—author of The Permaculture Handbook—made this astounding statement: Better farming could not just slow, but reverse, the buildup of atmospheric CO2.  Noting that rock star farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms has built up 6.5% of additional carbon in his soils, Bane argued that truly maximizing soil carbon sequestration across all the world's agricultural soils could literally soak up more carbon than we release each year.

In cultivating our ability to "farm carbon," we would simultaneously be reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers, increasing our farm lands' ability to retain nutrients and hold water, we'd be mitigating flooding and protecting against drought, and we'd be enhancing biodiversity too. There's even some research to suggest that small-scale agroecology could increase yields compared to conventional farming.

Via John Casey
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Musk: Utilities & Solar Can Exist Together

Musk: Utilities & Solar Can Exist Together | Zero Footprint |
Elon Musk believes solar and utilities can exist together, despite uneasy feelings among many within the utility sector.


Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show, Musk said that expanding electric vehicle markets, along with businesses and homes as solar power generators, will change how we view electricity demand.

“As we transition to electric transport, we’re going to see a significant increase in the demand for electricity,” SolarCity’s chair and Tesla’s CEO said, hinting that utilities will have a good future.

Musk told the Detroit press conference that he sees future electricity demand doubling. Half of supply would come from solar while half would come from the current utility, while the demand from current utilities would remain more or less unchanged.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Electric utilities will be reduced to maintaining the grid, unless they transition their own generation capacity to 100% renewable energy.

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Global wind industry grows 44% in 2014

Global wind industry grows 44% in 2014 | Zero Footprint |
New figures released by the Global Wind Energy Council show that the global wind industry grew by 44% in 2014, installing over 51 GW.


“Wind power is the most competitive way of adding new power generation capacity to the grid in a rapidly increasing number of markets around the world, even when competing against heavily subsidized incumbents,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General.

“Wind is a rapidly maturing technology, with proven reliability and competitiveness. Not only the low prices but also the cost-stability of wind power makes it a very attractive option for utilities, independent power producers and companies who are looking for a hedge against the wildly fluctuating prices of fossil fuels."

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

With a long term average growth rate of about 26% (Wikipedia says 30%), total wind capacity is expected to double every 5 years. 

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Climate and population are linked -- but maybe not the way you thought

Climate and population are linked -- but maybe not the way you thought | Zero Footprint |
No, this isn't about blaming people with large families in developing countries -- or blaming anyone at all.


Should family planning have precedence over renewable energy and direct efforts to adapt to climate change, when the needs are so great and the financial resources to address them are already insufficient?

A group of experts in the reproductive health and climate fields dealt with these concerns elegantly in a statement released by the Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute in December.

“Achieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families, and slow population growth — all benefits to climate-compatible development,” the group concluded. “We recommend including improved access to family planning among the comprehensive and synergistic efforts to achieve development compatible with addressing climate change.”

So, no — this important linkage is not about blaming anyone, no matter how many children they have, for climate change. The group (whose members spoke for themselves rather than for their organizations) recognized the complexity of the causes of climate change — past, present, and future. They did not call for prioritizing family planning over other needed investments in addressing climate change — nor even necessarily applying climate funding directly to contraceptive services.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The world is ALREADY very close to 2 children per couple on average. Where people still have more than 2, they are actually having fewer than they used to, but also, fewer children are dying than in the past, and more people are living longer.


Despite that, growth rates have actually been declining for 30 years! The population will continue to grow until it peaks at 9-10 billion just because the already existing young population will grow up and have their own children.


We CAN encourage the growth rates to decline even faster, but it won't make that much difference, not fast enough, and not nearly enough to offset the real problems.


The real problems are not simply over-consumption, but *unsustainable* consumption. And, actually, blaming our problems on consumption tends to excuse the *production* side, where most of the blame ought to be placed.


It IS possible to shift to 100% renewable energy and to recycle 100% of our waste, and thus our ecological footprint will be reduced to very close to 0. We are headed in that direction already. It is really only a question of how fast we will get there.


But we can go further, since we have available to us 1000s of times more renewable energy than all the energy that we current use. With the extra energy, we can clean up the centuries of mess we have created. We would effectively have a negative footprint, on average. And then, more people could actually help clean up the mess even faster.


So rather than believing that population is a necessary part of our problems, it could actually be a necessary part of our solutions!

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Why dedicating land to bioenergy won't curb climate change

Why dedicating land to bioenergy won't curb climate change | Zero Footprint |

A new WRI paper finds bioenergy can play a modest role using wastes and other niche fuelstocks, but recommends against dedicating land to produce bioenergy. The lesson: do not grow food or grass crops for ethanol or diesel or cut down trees for electricity.

Even modest quantities of bioenergy would greatly increase the global competition for land. People already use roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land for crops, livestock grazing and wood harvests. The remaining land protects clean water, supports biodiversity and stores carbon in trees, shrubs and soils—a benefit increasingly important for tackling climate change. The competition for land is growing, even without more bioenergy, to meet likely demands for at least 70 percent more food, forage and wood.

Some institutions have called for producing 20 percent of human energy needs from bioenergy of all sorts by 2050. That would require an amount of biomass equal to all the plants harvested annually across the entire world today: all the crops, crop residues, wood and grasses eaten by livestock. The world does not have the room.

Solar Cells Offer an Alternative

The good news is that standard solar cells available today can generate more than 100 times as much usable energy per acre (hectare) as bioenergy even using optimistic projections for bioenergy’s future. When used with electric engines in cars with more efficient batteries, solar benefits can rise to 200 or 300 times the efficiency biofuels. And unlike bioenergy, solar energy works great in deserts and on rooftops without competing for fertile land.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The solar energy we can derive from plants is such a small fraction of what we can get more directly, without completing for fertile land, that there should be no question how to proceed.  There may be value in storing energy in biofuels, but we'd have to do that much more efficiently.

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5 Reasons the Future of Clean Energy Investing Looks Stronger than Ever

5 Reasons the Future of Clean Energy Investing Looks Stronger than Ever | Zero Footprint |

1. Clean energy investment has been – and continues to be – on the rise


Recent buzz around clean energy investment has centered on a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report detailing the global clean energy industry’s strong 2014 investment results, results that even “beat expectations”. 


2. Wind and solar energy costs continue to drop precipitously


According to Lazard, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for solar and wind energy have decreased 78 percent and 58 percent, respectively, since 2009.


As costs of wind, solar, and other forms of clean energy decline, improved economic viability will likely lead to growth in clean energy investment.


3. Clean energy investment in the developing world is growing explosively – and just getting started


As costs drop, renewables promise to catch and become even more desirable in the developing world. 


Among the many reasons clean energy resources are ideal for developing nations are:


* Many of these countries lack infrastructure for large, traditional power plants; and, distributed generation (like rooftop solar) requires far less infrastructure;

* Many developing countries are at sunny, equatorial latitudes, which are ideal for solar power; and

* In regions characterized by energy poverty, upscaling usage of renewables is far less politically sensitive because there are not established fossil-fuel lobbies fighting to preserve the status quo.


4. Promising policy advances for clean energy integration


U.S. and global policy momentum is trending toward the creation of a global economy that is increasingly favorable toward renewable energy integration.


5. Countries around the world are already seeing the benefits of clean energy adoption


Positive experiences from countries pursuing clean energy integration prove the viability of upscaling renewables, as well as provide motivation and blueprints for others to follow. 


While 2014 was an especially strong year for clean energy investment, it was not an outlier so much as an indication of what is to come. Investors, take note: clean energy has clearly been trending upward at an impressive rate. Money has and will continue to be made through the industry in 2015 and onward.


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Citi: Battery storage to hasten demise of fossil fuels

Citi: Battery storage to hasten demise of fossil fuels | Zero Footprint |

Investment bank says wide deployment of battery storage will hasten the demise of fossil fuels and utilities that remain focused on centralised generation. It tips rapid fall in costs and a $400bn storage market by 2030.

The issue is therefor rapidly moving beyond those with a narrow focus on utilities and energy markets, it is now part of mainstream financial thinking, and because of that will have a profound influence on capital flows across the globe.


And on the technology front, the increased penetration of electric vehicles should continue to push down the cost of batteries for cars with parallel effects for energy systems battery costs.


It cited projects such as Tesla’s Giga-factory in Nevada 

with plans for 2020 battery production (in GWh) from that plant alone to exceed today’s global production. Over and above this, a number of independent companies all have ambitious commercial plans.

“The more they grow in customer numbers and partnerships, the more likely it is that battery storage costs will be declining,” the analysts write.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from The Sustainability Journal - by Vikram R Chari!

Ocean warming now off the charts

Ocean warming now off the charts | Zero Footprint |

The big climate news last week was NOAA and NASA announcing that 2014 was the hottest year on record, breaking the highs of 2005 and 2010. But the bigger story got buried: Global warming has continued unabated in recent years.

Remember, more than 90 percent of human induced planetary warming goes into the oceans, while only 2 percent goes into the atmosphere, so small changes in ocean uptake can have huge impact on surface temperatures. That’s a key reason surface temperatures haven’t appeared to warm as fast as many had expected in the past ten years — although ocean warming has sped up, and sea level rise has accelerated more than we thought , and Arctic sea ice has melted much faster than the models expected, as have the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica


But here’s where the media’s sometimes single-minded focus on one statistic — the hottest year on record — misses the real story from the latest scientific data and analysis. The human-caused rise in surface air temperatures never paused, never even slowed significantly. And that means we are likely headed toward a period of rapid surface temperature warming.

Via Vikram R Chari
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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from resilience through self-reliance!

Cradle-to-cradle design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cradle-to-cradle design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cradle to Cradle design (also referred to as Cradle to Cradle, C2C, cradle 2 cradle, or regenerative design) is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems. It models human industry on nature's processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature's biological metabolism while also maintaining a safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and technical nutrients.

Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems.


In 2002, Braungart and William McDonough published a book called Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a manifesto for cradle to cradle design that gives specific details of how to achieve the model.


The Cradle to Cradle model can be viewed as a framework that considers systems as a whole or holistically. It can be applied to many aspects of human society, and is related to Life cycle assessment. See for instance the LCA based model of the Eco-costs, which has been designed to cope with analyses of recycle systems. The Cradle to Cradle model in some implementations is closely linked with the Car-free movement, such as in the case of large-scale building projects or the construction or redevelopment of urban environments. It is closely linked with passive solar design in the building industry and with permaculture in agriculture within or near urban environments. An earthship is a perfect example where different re-use models are used, cradle to cradle and permaculture.

Via Vivalist
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

While the concept is sound, the certification does not go far enough to achieve Zero Footprint, requiring only 50% renewable energy use, for example.  But it does push in the right directions.

Vivalist's curator insight, January 24, 6:13 AM

Braungart brought chemistry into the "ecological" conversation in a unique and foolproof way while McDonough pushed architectural sustainability to new height - what a duo!

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How it took just one generation to stuff the planet

How it took just one generation to stuff the planet | Zero Footprint |

In just a single life-time, unchecked human activity has put life on Earth in peril, according to two new research papers. 

The first paper identifies nine planetary processes that are indicators of the health of Earth, and regulate the stability and resilience of the planet.

In four of these, the boundaries have already been crossed – the loss of biodiversity through an unprecedented rate of species extinction, and the overuse of fertilizers such as phosphorus and nitrogen already put those markets in the “red zone”.

Australian scientist Will Steffen has also led research in the creation of a “dashboard” that document the  “Great Acceleration” in human activity since the 1950s. And it concludes that the main driver is the global economic system.

Steffen says there is growing confidence that things can be done differently, and rampant economic growth can be disconnected from rises in greenhouse gases – this will happen with the growing adoption of clean energy, and the electrification of transport. And scientists know that more people can be fed with less phosphorous and nitrogen.


Steffen says the climate talks in Paris this year will be crucial to address how many of these issues are addressed, particularly in relating to climate. And he says his graphs point to the issue of equity – the developed nations with just 18 per cent of the population account for 70 per cent of the economic growth most of the changes documented in his dashboard.

“Have we stuffed the planet yet? Not entirely,” Steffen says. “But there is a very high risk we will in coming decades if we don’t change direction.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Note that the driving force of our problems is not population growth but unsustainable economic growth.   A small percentage of the population, namely us, accounts for most of the economic activity that results in the detrimental consequences.


We know how to do everything sustainably.  We know how to repair the damage already done.  The question is only how fast will we change direction and act responsibly to avoid the worst of the problems ahead?

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Scooped by Daniel LaLiberte!

Global Divestment Day — 13–14 February 2015 - YouTube

Get involved here: The fossil fuel industry is both fueling the climate crisis and blocking serious action. On Global Divestment Day, we will call on our institutions -- our schools, our governments, our banks and our places of worship -- to divest from destruction. Each act of divestment takes back power from fossil fuel companies and helps create a mandate for our leaders to take real action.

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