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Restoring the Earth: The Bonn Challenge

The future of our land, water and climate is under threat but large-scale ecosystem restoration can help reverse this. In 2011, the Bonn Challenge set a ten year target to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land. This short film describes the many benefits of taking up this vital challenge..WATCH: STORIES OF HOPE ON THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET.  JOIN THE INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY...




May 29, 2013 Seed Daily

















Yale Environment 360



May 24, 2013 Guardian Sustainable Business


Largely absent from the business world, animal portraits without words or explicit messages around sustainability, were found to effectively change perceptions and communicate the need for change.

Without words or explicit messages about sustainability or conservation, around 90% of viewers changed their cultural perceptions of animals and made statements about the need for more sustainable lifestyles to help protect the animals.


May 25, 2013 Mother Jones

Via pdjmoo
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

"Everyone has a role to play in building a sustainable future."

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Zero Footprint
How we can and must reduce the ecological footprint of all 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.

Via EcoWatch
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Sustaining Seven Billion People

Sustaining Seven Billion People | Zero Footprint |

"With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites."


...the top image shows where crops are grown throughout the world. Green areas are cropland, while tan areas are other types of land cover. In the last 40 years, cropland has increased by 70 percent to feed a growing population. Crops now cover about 40 percent of Earth’s land.

The lower image provides a landscape scale view of farming.

Measurements from the Landsat satellite also make it possible to tell how much water the crops consume in an arid environment. Such measurements are likely to become more important as demands on limited water resources increase. Currently, agriculture accounts for 85 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption.

Via Seth Dixon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Such studies of the agriculture around the world are essential. The way we are doing agriculture to support seven billion people now, peaking at 9-10 billion in another 60 years, it is clear that we are putting severe strains on the environment.  But we have grown lazy, and we are doing it all wrong.


We CAN drastically reduce the amount of meat we consume, and thus quickly reduce the amount of arable land we need.  We CAN grow plants in ways that actually sequester more carbon and improve the soil it over time rather than erode and degrade.  And we CAN in fact grow all the food we need in the space we live in, thus enabling us to recycle all the water used as well, which is mostly just lost in evaporation. 

Seth Dixon's curator insight, June 24, 6:53 AM

Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other.  Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population?  Satellite imagery can help answer these questions. 

Tagsremote sensing, geospatial, images, sustainability, agriculture, food production, environment modify, unit 5 agriculture

Russell Roberts's curator insight, July 5, 9:53 PM

Thanks to environmental reporter Wes Thomas and professor Seth Dixon for this incisive analysis of how to provide sustenance to a world population nearing the 7 billion mark.  Dixon says the key is tracking the "sum of what is available...and perhaps nothing is better suited to the task than satellites."  Ever since the launch of "Landsat" and resource imaging satellites, scientists have been collecting data on global resources such as water, land use, forests, and crop production.  Dixon and Thomas say it's time the data were  put into a plan to fight hunger and habitat destruction around the world.  Such a plan may work if we as humans can keep from killing ourselves over religion, politics, and territory.  A tall order , indeed.  Aloha de Russ.

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World Energy Exec Sees International Win-Win, Fast Track For Renewables

World Energy Exec Sees International Win-Win,  Fast Track For Renewables | Zero Footprint |

Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and initiator of a series of world conferences on off-grid and minigrid electrification, sees our world on the cusp of unprecedented energy transformation. Not only will the use of renewables for reliable, clean electricity contribute to universal access to power, it may also help keep the lid on climate change.

“We are living through a period of unprecedented change brought on by extremely disruptive megatrends. The geographical, economic, and demographic changes the world is undergoing now are transformative. These include urban growth, changes in energy demand, and accelerations in the rate of technological change, all accompanied by risks.


If we take digital mobile communications as a bellwether for our current ability to adapt, we see from its attainment of 90% global use in just 15 years—almost universal, even in areas unserved by electric power—that we’re at a moment of not only great risk, but also of great opportunity. We at IRENA believe that the rate of technological development for renewables is moving so fast that we have reached a tipping point. Things will work out very differently, very soon.”

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Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food

Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food | Zero Footprint |

   New Scientist, 26 June 2014


Eating less meat is better for the climate than previously thought, according to a study that looked at what vegetarians and vegans actually eat.


If you stop eating meat, your food-related carbon footprint could plummet to less than half of what it was. That is a much bigger drop than many previous estimates, and it comes from a study of people's real diets.

As much as a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions come from food production.

Pescatarians, who eat fish but not other meat, are almost as carbon-friendly as vegetarians, creating only about 2.5 per cent more food-related emissions. But vegans can feel the most superior, pumping out 25 per cent less emissions than vegetarians, who still eat eggs and dairy.

This research presents a strong case for the greenhouse gas benefits of a low-meat diet," says Christopher Jones of the University of California, Berkeley.

"Americans waste about a third of the food they buy, and eat about 30 per cent more calories than recommended, on average," says Jones. "Reducing food purchases and physical consumption would have even greater greenhouse gas benefits than reducing meat consumption in the American case."

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Fossil Fuels, Utilities & Gas Cars To Be Obsolete By 2030 - RenewEconomy

Fossil Fuels, Utilities & Gas Cars To Be Obsolete By 2030 - RenewEconomy | Zero Footprint |

Last year, in an interview with Stanford University’s Tony Seba, we foreshadowed the remarkable conclusions of his new book: that energy and transportation as we know it will be history by 2030.

That book, the Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation, is now published, and it has even more dramatic prognosis: Silicon Valley will make oil, nuclear, natural gas, coal, electric utilities and conventional cars obsolete by 2030.  


What’s more, Seba says it might happen even earlier than 2030.


He’s not the only person to predict this transformation. Jeremy Grantham agrees, and many in the utilities industry see the same risks. Paul Gilding has made similar predictions.


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Global Renewable Energy Capacity Has Nearly Doubled to 1,560 Gigawatts Since 2004

Global Renewable Energy Capacity Has Nearly Doubled to 1,560 Gigawatts Since 2004 | Zero Footprint |
In the past nine years, global renewable energy capacity has nearly doubled from 800 gigawatts (GW) to 1,560 gigawatts with solar and wind demonstrating the biggest gains.


 According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century‘s (REN21) Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, worldwide solar PV capacity is 53 times higher than in 2004, while wind power capacity is nearly seven times higher.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

While solar and wind energy are exploding, they started with a smaller fraction, but they are bound to dwarf the hydroelectric capacity.

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Let’s Use Fossil Fuels To Make Stuff, But Let’s Not Cook The Planet

Let’s Use Fossil Fuels To Make Stuff, But Let’s Not Cook The Planet | Zero Footprint |

Originally published on Shrink That Footprint, By Lindsay Wilson.

The IPCC just released its third assessment report on mitigating climate change. I’ve spent the morning reading the full summary, and to help you save a little time I’ve whittled it down to a six word summary: Fossils fuels are for making stuff.

Of course we’ll continue to use fossils fuels for making stuff where absolutely necessary (steel, plastic, fertilizer…) but we need to stop using them as our go to energy source for doing things (power, transport, heating and cooling). This of course is a simplification, with obvious exceptions like heavy transport, but it’s a pretty solid way to think about the challenge.


If that sounds radical that is simply because it is. According to the IPCC, limiting warming to 2°C means increasing the world’s low carbon energy share from 15% in 2010, to 60% by 2050 and to 90% by 2100. And just to be very clear here when the IPCC says ‘energy’ they don’t mean electricity. They are talking about all the energy we use in industry, transport, buildings and agriculture.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We can do better.  We can achieve 100% renewable energy certainly by 2050, and with a concerted effort, by 2030.

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World Wind Power To Double By 2020

World Wind Power To Double By 2020 | Zero Footprint |

Originally published on Energy Post.
By Karel Beckman
Despite an overall slump in installations in 2013, the global cumulative wind power capacity will more than double from 319.6 Gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2013 to 678.5 GW by 2020, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.


“China doubled its cumulative wind capacity every year from 2006 to 2009 and has continued to grow significantly since then."

Ian Perrin comments: GlobalData's analysis requires a year-on-year growth of 11.35% to achieve their expected outcome. That looks impressive but James Ayre's earlier article  requires wind power to be increased fifteen-fold by 2030 if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. That implies a year-on-year growth of 17.25%. Can it be done?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We should be able to grow the world's wind (and solar) energy capacity a lot *faster* than merely doubling in 6 years.  Wind energy is already competitive, and the payback time is only 1 year, so we should be able to double wind energy every year.

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Economic Value Of Renewables For Environment, Economy & Society

Economic Value Of Renewables For Environment, Economy & Society | Zero Footprint |

Originally published on PV Solar Report, by Aya Kusch
A recent econValue report outlines how, with the right policies and framework in place, renewables could increase jobs and incomes, improve trade balances, and help industrial development.


As Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)), says: Yes, jobs in coal will most likely be lost, but that will be more than offset by the jobs created by clean energy sectors. Improved health also has economic benefits, and consumers will eventually be spending less on energy due to less demand on the grid.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If it is not already enough for renewable energy to improve the environment, don't forget how it also helps improve society and the economy.  

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Al Gore thinks there's hope for humanity after all

Al Gore thinks there's hope for humanity after all | Zero Footprint |

In the current rolling debate over whether we’re already the walking dead, given our presumptive too little, too late actions on climate change, Al Gore is boldly predicting victory in the latest issue ofRolling Stone.


“The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail,” writes Gore in his article, “The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate.” “The truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still — almost certainly — be avoided.”


But if there’s one overarching theme to Gore’s appeal for hope, it’s that renewable energy is getting less expensive, while coal energy is becoming more of a liability for markets. People like new things, and cheap — especially Americans. So to prevent “game over,” we need only keep looking toward the sun.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

That we indeed CAN avoid many catastrophes does not mean it will be easy or even certain.  In fact, the only certain thing is that our future will be very challenging.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Sustain Our Earth!

Solar Likely To Become Dominant Source Of Electricity Globally By 2050, IEA Forecasts

Solar Likely To Become Dominant Source Of Electricity Globally By 2050, IEA Forecasts | Zero Footprint |

The IEA says its core scenarios for reaching climate targets by 2050 call for 68 per cent of generation to be sourced from renewable energy, but in the (increasingly likely) event that carbon capture and storage and nuclear cannot take up their imagined shares, then the IEA has painted a “high renewables” scenario where solar takes an even greater role.


Its estimates, however, seem conservative given that most private forecasters suggest that the solar industry will reach 100GW installation a year anyway by 2017 or 2018, and capacity is likely to grow further beyond that. Its “vanilla” scenario for reaching its climate goals require just an average of 67GW of solar PV to be installed a year. The solar market is likely to reach that figure in 2015.


This, as many independent analysts have told us before, is going to create a radical change in the way that electricity markets operate. What is interesting is that the IEA is now buying into these scenarios, albeit more tentatively than others.

Via SustainOurEarth
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It's almost like the IEA is saying "Like it or not, solar is coming and not even the fossil fuel interests will be able to stop it."


We need to aim much higher, to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, so we can completely shut down the fossil fuel industry as soon as possible.

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How One Chicago Restaurant Went Totally Trash-Free

Some restaurants produce eight gallons of waste every hour. Thanks to a sustainability plan, Sandwich Me In stretched that two years.


"Any questions you would ask me, we have a green solution to that. To me, that's the only way to let other restaurants know that this can work, and this can happen."


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MARINE DEBRIS: Why would you move through the oceans if the oceans can move through you? - YouTube

Boyan Slat, founder and president The Ocean Cleanup: "I have invented a method to clean up almost half of the great Pacific's garbage patch in just 10 years, using the currents to my advantage." 


But the oceans won't get clean by means of just a great idea. The Ocean Cleanup aims to not only study the solution, but actually develop the world's first feasible approach to gyre remediation, by using the ocean's currents to its advantage. So there is much more work to be done. 

Via PeerSpring
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

After watching this video, and another video with Boyan reporting on the feasibility study: ( I get the sense that we haven't really been trying hard enough yet to clean up our mess.  And that, ironically enough, gives me hope that there is so much more we can do.

Laura Page's comment, June 13, 5:14 PM
I think if we listen inside of ourselves as to what feels "right" it will always be the right decision. Usually by the time you are thinking about it, it has been tapping on your heart for a while.
Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 16, 6:01 PM
Although Boyan only claims his "gadget" can clean up about half of the plastic in 10 years, the smaller bits, which are probably much more numerous, will also be important to clean up, and it will likely be much more difficult. Some complain that the whole idea seems naive ( but it looks like there is a reasonable value proposition here.
PeerSpring's comment, June 16, 6:27 PM
Daniel - if to think without limits or confines is to be naive, then perhaps the world needs a little bit more of youth innovation? Thanks so much for your thoughtful contributions and re-scoops!
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Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis - heroes and innovators! These ranchers now know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. They are turning ON their soils, enabling rainwater to sink into the earth rather than run off. And these turned ON soils retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought. It's an amazing story that has just begun.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is about raising cattle in a way that grasslands have coevolved to depend upon, except with bison instead.  While we don't really need to eat much meat, what little we do eat should be raised in a way that contributes to the environment rather than takes away from it.  It seems clear we can actually improve our grassland soils while sequestering more carbon, by working with nature rather than fighting it.  

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Renewables to Receive Lion's Share of $7.7 Trillion in Global Power Funding

Renewables to Receive Lion's Share of $7.7 Trillion in Global Power Funding | Zero Footprint |

Renewable energy may reap as much as two-thirds of the $7.7 trillion in investment forecast for building new power plants by 2030 as declining costs make it more competitive with fossil fuels.

About half of the investment will be in Asia, the region where power capacity will grow the most, according to the forecasts in a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance today. That will help global carbon dioxide emissions peak by the end of the next decade the London-based researcher said.

A glut of solar and wind manufacturing capacity has brought down prices of cells and turbines. That’s making clean energy plants in more locations profitable even though governments from Germany to the U.S. are scaling back incentives. Annual investment in technologies such as solar, wind and hydropower surpassed fossil fuels for the first time in 2011.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:
It's great that private investments are funding renewables, but why investment anything in non-renewables? What would happen if we properly accounted for the externalized costs of fossil fuels?
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Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies

Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint |

If the Internet was a country, its electricity use would rank sixth highest in the world. That huge power demand, and the potential to drive a renewable energy solution to its sourcing is the basis for Greenpeace’s report on tech companies that are moving toward one hundred percent renewable energy to power the Internet.


Five companies—Apple, Facebook, and Google, along with B2B companies Rackspace and Salesforce—have committed to a goal of powering their operations with one hundred percent renewable energy.

 Microsoft was noted for its carbon neutrality effort, for which it increased its renewables by 70 percent from 2011 to 2012. And SAP’s recent announcement that it would power all its data centers and facilities worldwide with one hundred percent sustainable electricity by the end of this year.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It's great that the tech companies are leading the way, but everyone should be making a similar commitment to reach the 100% renewable energy goal.

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Is There Enough Solar Power for the Entire World? - CleanTechies

Is There Enough Solar Power for the Entire World? - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint |

It’s been a while since I wrote a post reminding us all exactly how little area is required, in relative terms, to provide enough solar power for the entire world.  Numbers are cool, but graphics are better.  [Here] is a map that shows the swath that we’d need to take out of Northern Africa in order to get the job done.


We all need to keep the truth in mind as we contemplate the appropriate energy policy for Earth in the 21st Century, i.e., our planet receives 6000 times more energy from the sun every day than all seven billion of us can consume here.  We have it within our grasp to transform ourselves into a civilization that pulls itself back from the brink of extinction by migrating to clean energy.  Let’s do it.

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Can You Imagine? Toppling the Fossil Fuel Empire

Can You Imagine? Toppling the Fossil Fuel Empire | Zero Footprint |

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein

As the world struggles with how to deal with the slow motion apocalypse of global climate change it becomes more and more apparent that we are trapped in "the kind of thinking" that got us here.

Our failure of imagination regarding the ever-increasing production and use of fossil fuels will, over time, kill billions of us and irreversibly change all life on the planet. It is a failure of imagination, not at a policy level but at the level of civilization.

The energy giants are protected by rogue governments like those in Alberta and Ottawa. They are permitted to take as much of the stuff out of the ground as fast as they can ship it and sell it, regardless of the global consequences. Like no other sector of the economy (except perhaps nuclear power) they are allowed to externalize hundreds of billions -- possibly trillions -- in costs they should be paying: air and water pollution costs, health costs, the costs associated with distorting the rest of the economy, the cost of new roads and bridges and freeways and paved-over farm land. We refuse to tax it to cover those costs, and that means ridiculously low prices and little incentive to wean ourselves from its pernicious and deadly effects.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Paying the costs of mining and burning fossil fuels now rather than leaving the mess for our children to clean up at a much higher cost is only fair and proper.  And if you are worried about constraining the economy, we will be able to grow much faster and further once we are rid of the constraining limits of fossil fuels.

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Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax Creates Jobs, Cuts Emissions, Grows Economy

Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax Creates Jobs, Cuts Emissions, Grows Economy | Zero Footprint |

Editor's Note: A carbon tax or some other adequate carbon pricing system is urgently needed in order to deal with global warming and climate change. However, the idea of a “tax” isn’t particularly popular with some segments of society (particularly, those who don’t understand that pollution is an externality that must be internalized in some way in order to achieve a “perfect” free market). But a little bit of attention to how such a tax can be revenue neutral and help the economy should (theoretically) help to break down those barriers. Thanks to the folks at Skeptical Science for this piece:

The main source of opposition to carbon pricing is the perception that it will 'kill jobs' or otherwise hurt the economy. However, economic forecasts have rarely been done for a carbon fee in which 100% the revenue is returned to the taxpayers. Under proposed revenue-neutral carbon tax legislation, about two-thirds of taxpayers are projected to receive more in refunds than they pay in higher energy prices. It's a net financial gain for most people. This is a key factor that differentiates a revenue-neutral carbon tax system and its economic impacts from other carbon pricing systems.

“Personal income per capita goes up because households receive the total benefit of the dividend as well as improved job opportunities and wages in the general economy, which more than counteracts any negative effects from higher energy and commodity prices.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I'd prefer that a "tax" on fossil fuels is revenue-neutral with respect to neutralizing the effects of externalities.  That is, the revenue would be used to clean up the pollution, or pay for mitigation which is likely much higher.  This would raise the cost of fossil fuels to match their true costs.  


Just distributing the tax revenue to the people also raises the cost of the fossil fuels, but it also empowers the people with the ability to pay for cheaper alternatives.  It doesn't clean up the effects of burning fossil fuels, but it would effectively subsidize their elimination.

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Solar Reaching Parity with Coal by 2017

Solar Reaching Parity with Coal by 2017 | Zero Footprint |

From China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs - CleanTechies - 


Many people, even fanatical advocates of solar power, are unaware quite how close we are to reaching a critical milestone in the industry. Within a fairly short space of time, solar generated electricity will be fully cost competitive with coal-powered electricity — at least if the governments of the world’s two largest energy consuming nations have their way.


Sankowski maintains that, driven by high levels of pollution and national security concerns, the Chinese government asked a question back in the early 2000s: “How Much Will It Cost To Make Solar Cheaper Than Coal?” The answer was based on Swanson’s Law that states that every doubling of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity results in a 20 percent reduction in unit cost.


When Swanson’s Law still worked after a couple of doublings of capacity the Chinese government stepped up their efforts. As a result, Suntech now expects the goal to be achieved by 2016, or 2017 at the latest. 


The simple fact is that with both innovation and increased capacity, the cost of solar energy has fallen considerably over the last few years and continues to do so. If, as looks likely, it does become truly cost comparative with coal in the next few years, then the days of cheap, clean, renewable energy dominating the world’s two biggest energy markets may be closer than you think.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

After clobbering coal, we still have to knock out natural gas.  We would already be there if we were paying the full cost of burning fossil fuels.

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Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ | KurzweilAI

Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ | KurzweilAI | Zero Footprint |

Elon Musk: “Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power.”


“SolarCity was founded to accelerate mass adoption of sustainable energy. The sun, that highly convenient and free fusion reactor in the sky, radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year.


“This means that solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization. A cogent assessment of sustainable energy potential from various sources is described well in this Sandia paper.


“We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen. 


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Life and Leadership, by Fritjof Capra | DailyGood

Life and Leadership, by Fritjof Capra | DailyGood | Zero Footprint |

Sustainability is not an individual property, but is a property of an entire web of relationships. It is a community practice. This is the profound lesson we need to learn from nature. The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community.


A sustainable human community interacts with other communities — human and nonhuman — in ways that enable them to live and develop according to their natures. Sustainability does not mean that things do not change. It is a dynamic process of coevolution rather than a static state.


Living systems generally remain in a stable state, even though energy and matter flow through them and their structures are continually changing. But every now and then such an open system will encounter a point of instability, where there is either a breakdown or, more frequently, a spontaneous emergence of new forms of order.


Human organizations always contain both designed and emergent structures. The issue is not one of discarding designed structures in favor of emergent ones. We need both.  The challenge for leaders is to find the right balance between the creativity of emergence and the stability of design.



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Wind Turbines Yield Almost Immediate Net Benefit

Wind Turbines Yield Almost Immediate Net Benefit | Zero Footprint |

Wind energy has often been heralded as one of the saviours of planet Earth, as well as being economically beneficial and efficient: it is the oft-unmentioned winning-point for renewable technologies that they are not only environmentally friendly, but also cheaper to run and invest than traditional energy generation methods.

A life cycle assessment like the one conducted in this research looks at the net environmental impact across the whole spectrum of construction, installation, and running; raw materials, transport, manufacturing, installation, ongoing maintenance, recycling, and disposal at the end of its life.


The final analysis showed that the largest environmental impacts were caused by materials production and the manufacturing process, but this impact is paid back within 6 months. Even in the worst-case-scenarios, it is expected a wind turbine will pay for its environmental impact within the first year of its use.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

With 100% net environmental pay back within 1 year, we should be able to double our wind energy generators every year, until we run out of places to put them.  The energy generated each year by all the existing turbines in that year can effectively be used to build the same number of turbines in the next year.  

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Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world

Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world | Zero Footprint |

The circular economy - a concept which ensures that products are designed with their eventual reuse, upcycling or biodegradation in mind - emerged as the most prominent trend that is driving the innovation of sustainable solutions worldwide, according to Sustainia100, a report released on Monday by Scandinavian think thank Sustainia.

Circular economy thinking was evident in a quarter of all solutions, including Japanese manufacturer Teijin, whose “Eco Circle” recycling process makes it possible to recycle polyester products multiple times without compromising on quality. This process helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 77 per cent compared to new polyester made by petroleum, according to Teijin.

Laura Storm, director of Sustainia, commented: “We are seeing how especially the circular economy is a growing focus area. Companies re-think consumption, waste, materials and return-systems at impressive scale”.

“The global pressure on our natural resources has led to increased resource scarcity, which calls upon industries to transform their way of operating. Clever use of materials is a key innovation driver,” she added.

Via Praxa Capital
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Researchers Assign Monetary Value to Nature to Promote Sustainability

Researchers Assign Monetary Value to Nature to Promote Sustainability | Zero Footprint |

In a study published recently in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) and Yale University have developed a first-of-its-kind, interdisciplinary equation to estimate the current monetary value of natural resources such as fish stocks, groundwater or forests in the U.S. In assigning natural capital monetary value, the approach will have widespread implications for policymakers and various stakeholders, and will also advocate for the creation of robust asset markets for natural capital, a much-needed advance.

Unlike earlier approaches, the method takes into consideration the “opportunity cost” of losing future units of natural capital that could have helped replenish the resource, providing economic benefits in the long run. It is underpinned by the economic principles also used to value physical or human capital.

“Sustainability can be defined as ensuring that the assets the next generation inherits are worth at least as much as they were when the previous generation received them,” said Abbott. “As humans, we are not going to have zero impact on the environment, but we want to make sure that the value of human, physical and natural capital that we pass on to future generations is worth no less than when we inherited them.”


“We are pursuing this research to help provide better measurements of society’s wealth, so we can know whether we’re moving in a sustainable direction,” Abbott concluded. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Not only can humans have zero impact on the environment, we can do better than that.  If we can ensure that the world's natural assets have *more* value in the future, then we will be *improving* the environment. This is absolutely physically possible.  


We can ensure that enough fish remain in the oceans such that fish populations can actually *grow*. We can ensure that our agricultural practices actually *improve* the soil, as we use some of its products, and recycle 100% of our waste back to the land.  After we shut down the fossil fuel industry entirely, we can sequester some fraction of CO2 out of what we burn in biofuels, until we get back to the balance nature has depended on for millennia.


Measuring the value of natural assets could be abused, of course, if it is not done properly. Some might say we should never put a price on nature, but perhaps the proper price for natural resources should gradually grow arbitrarily high until we learn to leave nature alone.

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Rethinking waste: Transforming problems into solutions (video)

Rethinking waste: Transforming problems into solutions (video) | Zero Footprint |

Sometimes, even the most diehard enviros among us forget that resources are all around, including those things we consider to be waste.


There's an argument to be made that the only time something is actually waste is if we don't know how to put it to work, and that by making an effort to recognize so-called waste items as really being resources, we can improve our lives, our homes and communities, and perhaps our entire world.


"I believe there should be no such word as 'waste', because as long as there is a word, we're 'wasting'.  We do everything we can to turn waste in to resources." 


Via Flora Moon
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