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Sustainable Livestock Production is Possible

Sustainable Livestock Production is Possible | Zero Footprint |

25 September 2013, University of Cambridge -- "New research advocates use of pastures with shrubs and trees as it is more sustainable, improving animal welfare and increasing biodiversity.

Consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards for how their meat is sourced, with animal welfare and the impact on the environment factoring in many purchases. Unfortunately, many widely-used livestock production methods are currently unsustainable. However, new research out today from the University of Cambridge has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.


When ruminants, such as cows, goats and sheep, are consuming the plants from a silvopastoral system, researchers have seen an increase in growth and milk production. [...] As the numbers of animals per hectare was much greater, production of good quality milk per hectare was four to five times greater on the silvopastoral system. 

One of the additional benefits of using the silvopastoral system is that it increases biodiversity. Biodiversity is declining across the globe, and the main culprit is farming – 33% of the total land surface of the world is used for livestock production.  If farmers were to switch to sustainable livestock production methods, such as the silvopastoral system, the result would be much greater biodiversity with no increase in land use.


Via GR2
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This sounds better than current practice, particularly for milk production. Is it also better for sequestering more carbon in the soil?

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Zero Footprint
We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from EcoWatch!

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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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from The Great Transition!

Scientists vindicate 'Limits to Growth' – urge investment in 'circular economy'

Scientists vindicate 'Limits to Growth' – urge investment in 'circular economy' | Zero Footprint |

The new Club of Rome report (the 33rd) says that:


"The phase of mining by humans is a spectacular but very brief episode in the geological history of the planet… The limits to mineral extraction are not limits of quantity; they are limits of energy. Extracting minerals takes energy, and the more dispersed the minerals are, the more energy is needed… Only conventional ores can be profitably mined with the amounts of energy we can produce today."

A fundamental reorganisation of the way societies produce, manage and consume resources could support a new high-technology civilisation, but this would entail a new "circular economy" premised on wide-scale practices of recycling across production and consumption chains, a wholesale shift to renewable energy, application of agro-ecological methods to food production, and with all that, very different types of social structures.

Limits to economic growth, or even "degrowth", the report says, do not need to imply an end to prosperity, but rather require a conscious decision by societies to lower their environmental impacts, reduce wasteful consumption, and increase efficiency – changes which could in fact increase quality of life while lowering inequality.

Via Willy De Backer
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Zero Footprint means not just lowering our environmental impact, but eliminating it, and eliminating waste by recycling 100% of the resources we use, powered by 100% renewable energy.

Willy De Backer's curator insight, June 5, 11:01 PM

Good review of the latest study by Prof. Ugo Bardi for the Club of Rome on how climate change and resource constraints will force us to rethink our way of life.

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It's Official: Electric Car Sales Have Doubled Every Year For Three Years

It's Official: Electric Car Sales Have Doubled Every Year For Three Years | Zero Footprint |

The number of electrically powered vehicles in the world now totals more than 400,000 vehicles, and has been doubling for the past few years.


If this trend continues, the report says, we’ll see more than 1 million electric plug-in cars on the roads by 2016.


By contrast, there are believed to be around six million hybrid electric (non plug-in) cars in the world.


With a few exceptions — the UK being one of them — it looks as if electric car sales figures really are growing at an almost unstoppable rate, doubling every year and showing no signs of slowing.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

By doubling every year, after reaching 1 million by 2016, it would only take 10 more years to replace all 1 billion cars in the world with electric vehicles.  I would guess the rate will slow by year 9.

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Wind Share of World Electricity Will More Than Double By 2018

Wind Share of World Electricity Will More Than Double By 2018 | Zero Footprint |

Global prospects for wind power are rising despite disappointing 2013 numbers, say analysts at Navigant Research.  

Analysts had expected this market decline because of important European markets continuing to feel the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and negative conditions in several key countries (notably the United States and Spain, both plagued by policy inconsistency).

Still, wind power now supplies about 3% of the world’s electricity, and the signs are good for the next several years. Navigant expects wind power to deliver 7.3% of global electricity by 2018. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This chart shows the annual increase in wind energy, not the cummulative total.  The green area is for prior years, and the dip in 2013 represents the slightly lower growth that year.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Energy Affordability!

Renewable energy is ready to supply all of Australia's electricity

Renewable energy is ready to supply all of Australia's electricity | Zero Footprint |

... we already have technically feasible scenarios to run the Australian electricity industry on 100% renewable energy — without significantly affecting supply.


It turns out that wind and solar photovoltaic are only unable to meet electricity demand a few times a year. These periods occur during peak demand on winter evenings following overcast days that also happen to have low wind speeds across the region.


Since the gaps are few in number and none exceeds two hours in duration, there only needs to be a small amount of generation from the so-called flexible renewables (those that don’t depend on the vagaries of weather): hydro and biofuelled gas turbines. Concentrated solar thermal is also flexible while it has energy in its thermal storage.

Many regions of the world could operate a 100% renewable electricity system reliably without any baseload power stations.


Considering that Australia has much greater solar energy and wind potential than the European countries, its present renewable contribution and its 2020 target (see chart above) are both modest.


Moving to 100% renewable electricity is safe, technically feasible and affordable. It can cut greenhouse gas and other emissions and land degradation, while creating local jobs and energy security. It is ready to go!

Via UnitingCareAustralia
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This study shows that we can not only eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear power from the energy mix, but we don't even need batteries to meet most demand.  

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from The future of food health and agriculture!

Vertical Farming: Singapore’s Solution to Feed the Local Urban Population

Vertical Farming: Singapore’s Solution to Feed the Local Urban Population | Zero Footprint |

For the island of Singapore, where real estate is at a premium and the land rates are exceptionally high, the only viable option is to go vertical to make the island more self-sufficient in food.

In making this goal of a food self-reliant Singapore a reality, Entrepreneur Jack Ng, with the help of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), has come up with one of the world’s first commercial vertical farms. This soil based vertical farm produces one ton of vegetables every other day and is five to ten times more productive than a regular farm.

The rotation system does not need an electrical generator. It is powered by a unique gravity aided water-pulley system that uses only one litre of water, which is collected in a rainwater fed overhead reservoir. This method also boasts a very low carbon footprint as the energy needed to power one A-frame is the equivalent of illuminating just one 60-watt light bulb. The water powering the frames is recycled and filtered before returning to the plants. All organic waste on the farm is composted and reused.

It’s still up for debate whether vertical farms are more efficient at producing food than traditional greenhouses. As Gene Giacomelli, a plant scientist at the University of Arizona points out, “The limiting factor is light.

Check out this video report on the technology:"

Via Charles van der Haegen
Charles van der Haegen's curator insight, July 25, 2:59 AM

Let's learn the lessons from the failures of the past.

Why are we facing so many intractable problems of our own making?

Because we have caught ourselves in Technological/Institutional Lock-Ins: Prisons of our own making, systems that are living their own life, that have escaped our control, in which we get enslaved...


What is the mistake we made:

Not following the way nature works, diversity, agility, small, cooperation, dying as a way to giving birth...

Collingridge has put the finger on our wound. He warned us of and developed indicators for decision making to avoid getting caught in such Technological/Institutional Lock-ins.

For a summary




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Tax to Pay Externalities - U.S. Carbon Price - Climate CoLab

Tax to Pay Externalities - U.S. Carbon Price - Climate CoLab | Zero Footprint |

A tax on carbon emissions should match the cost to sequester the same amount of carbon, or pay more to mitigate the effects of not doing so.


Enter one of 18 contests on what to do about climate change. Comment, collaborate, share, submit your ideas!

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I am working on this proposal and I invite your comments and criticisms.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Sustainable Futures!

Zero carbon and economic growth can go together, UN study says

Zero carbon and economic growth can go together, UN study says | Zero Footprint |

Guardian Australia: The top 15 emitter countries could make deep cuts to emissions while also tripling economic output, according to the study.


The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways report, released by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, analyzed the 15 countries that account for 70% of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, which includes Australia, the US, Britain and China.


According to the report, compiled by academics from each of the countries, the 15 countries could make deep cuts to emissions while also tripling economic output.


These cuts are needed, the report notes, if the world is to avoid the “catastrophic” impact of failing to keep to the internationally agreed limit of 2C global warming on pre-industrial levels. The study concedes the world is on track to overshoot this.

A further UN report in September will set out the monetary cost of a rapid increase in renewables to cut emissions to zero.


But the newly released study plots a path that involves phasing out coal use almost entirely, shifting electricity generation to renewable sources such as solar and wind, and powering vehicles and buildings with clean electricity rather than fossil fuels such as oil and petrol.


Industrial and farming processes that can’t use such clean technology would be offset by large-scale storage of carbon in soils and trees.

Via Flora Moon
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The Economics of Global Warming

The Economics of Global Warming | Zero Footprint |

“Climate inaction inflicts costs that escalate every day.


It’s suicidal, both economically and literally, to focus on the fossil fuel industry’s limited, short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term prosperity, human health and the natural systems, plants and animals that make our well-being and survival possible. Those who refuse to take climate change seriously are subjecting us to enormous economic risks and foregoing the numerous benefits that solutions would bring.


 The World Bank—hardly a radical organization—is behind one study. While still viewing the problem and solutions through the lens of outmoded economic thinking, its report demolishes arguments made by the likes of Stephen Harper.

Risky Business, a report by prominent U.S. Republicans and Democrats, concludes, “The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change,” especially in coastal regions and agricultural areas.
Those who fear or reject change are running out of excuses as humanity runs out of time. Pitting the natural environment against the human-invented economy and placing higher value on the latter is foolish. These reports show it’s time to consign that false dichotomy to the same dustbin as other debunked and discredited rubbish spread by those who profit from sowing doubt and confusion about global warming.

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New Desalination Technologies Spur Growth in Recyling Water

New Desalination Technologies Spur Growth in Recyling Water | Zero Footprint |
Long associated with turning seawater into drinking water, new desal technologies will allow for the reuse agricultural and industrial waste water.


With world water demands rising and extreme droughts like the one now gripping California expected to grow more frequent and widespread as the climate warms, drawing fresh water from oceans and other salty sources will be increasingly important.

Engineers and entrepreneurs across the globe are now trying to devise greener desalination. Some are inventing new alternatives to traditional reverse osmosis. Among them: Israel, whose own dependence on desalinated water has made it a world leader in the process, has come out with several state-of-the-art technologies, including a novel “semi-batch” reverse osmosis process developed by Desalitech that shrinks energy and brine, and a chemical-free “plant in a box,” produced by IDE Technologies; and Memsys, of Singapore and Germany, is working on hybrid-thermal membrane technology that is energy-efficient enough to run on solar power.


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Deep Decarbonization Draft Offers “Transformational” Climate Strategies (VIDEO)

Deep Decarbonization Draft Offers “Transformational” Climate Strategies (VIDEO) | Zero Footprint |

As unprecedented storms, extinctions, and water, food, and energy wars continue to touch our world, warnings about destructive human-made climate change multiply and increase in stridency. At the United Nations in New York yesterday, some possible solutions were officially released. (VIDEO available here.)

Deep Decarbonization is the first global cooperative program to identify practical pathways for major industrial economies toward a low-carbon world economy by 2050. Unlike many recent assessments, it focuses on potential solutions rather than agonizing statistics and definitions.


The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) is a collaborative initiative to understand and show how individual countries can transition to a low-carbon economy and how the world can meet the internationally agreed target of limiting the increase in global mean surface temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C).

Jeffrey Sachs summarizes:

We are on a trajectory of some four degrees centigrade or more, depending on exactly the assumptions that one makes; and all of the evidence is that the business as usual path would be an absolutely reckless and unforgivable gamble with this planet.

“Change is in the air,” says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Solutions exist. The race is on, and it’s time to lead…. The report we are launching today shows how we can achieve deep decarbonization.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I firmly believe we could progress much faster toward 100% renewable energy and shutting down the fossil fuel industry than this UN plan, if we decide to rally our collective energy and make it happen.

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Global Energy Markets Reach Tipping Point Giving Renewables an Edge

Global Energy Markets Reach Tipping Point Giving Renewables an Edge | Zero Footprint |

Global energy markets are reaching a tipping point. A pathway has opened for climate progress, but only if governments, business and public recognize and exploit the opportunity.


For the first time, a large fraction of the world’s fossil fuels could be replaced at a lower cost by clean energy, with today’s renewable technologies and prices. And virtually no further investments in fossil fuels make long-term economic sense because higher fossil fuel prices over their useful life will be exorbitant.


In country after country, fossil fuels still retain market share no longer justified by cost—the precipitous drop in the price of renewables, accompanied by the escalating marginal cost of extracting oil, gas and coal, have created a fundamentally new market dynamic in which fossil fuels hold on in spite of the fact that they are more expensive, not cheaper.

Fossil fuels are thus no longer the lowest cost energy source in enough of the world’s energy markets to enable disruptive clean energy technologies to scale at a rate which would give them overwhelming market-wide competitive advantages in a relatively short time frame—if markets responded competitively to price signals. But incumbent energy markets may not in fact harvest much of this renewable edge, because they are not price driven.

The world is cluttered with bankrupt projects built on the basis of outdated assumptions about the future. What is true is that companies—or countries—who see the clean energy revolution and act on it sooner will have much better balance sheets in 15 years than those who stick with a sinking fossil ship.

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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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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Solar Energy Advocacy!

Stanford study shows how to power California with wind, water and sun

Stanford study shows how to power California with wind, water and sun | Zero Footprint |
New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.


Jacobson's study outlines a plan to fulfill all of the Golden State’s transportation, electric power, industry, and heating and cooling energy needs with renewable energy by 2050.

The study concludes that, while a wind, water and sunlight conversion may result in initial capital cost increases, such as the cost of building renewable energy power plants, these costs would be more than made up for over time by the elimination of fuel costs. The overall switch would reduce California’s end-use power demand by about 44 percent and stabilize energy prices, since fuel costs would be zero, according to the study.


The plan is analogous to one that Jacobson and other researchers developed for New York state.  The study’s authors are developing similar plans for all U.S. states.

Via Wiser Capital
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

All states, cities, and nations need to make similar plans for how to transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

Wiser Capital's curator insight, July 30, 1:26 PM

Study predicts lower energy costs, huge savings from avoided health impacts, and more jobs for California. Sounds like the right path to us. 

Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Nature!

10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change

10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change | Zero Footprint |

From action in China and the US to falling solar costs and rising electric car sales, there is cause to be hopeful.


Here are ten reasons to be hopeful that humans will rise to the challenge of climate change.


1) Obama's emissions caps on coal power stations, announced last month were the culmination of a massive public relations push and scientific blitzkrieg with Obama as its champion, potentially making the next presidential election a referendum on climate change action.

2) The response of world’s largest emitter of carbon, China, has the potential to be swift and decisive, given its centrally controlled economy. Responding to smog-tired residents in China’s cities, the government has ordered a mass shutdown of coal plants within a few years.

3) According to the authoritative IEA thinktank, the price of installing photovoltaic (solar electricity) systems dropped by two thirds over the past six years. The resulting solar explosion has generated a “prosumer” market, in which the owners of homes and businesses are taking ownership of a growing proportion of the energy supply.

4) Dozens of cities, institutions and investors are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies after the launch of a divestment campaign in the US around 18 months ago.

5) Bangladeshi women who previously lived without electricity have been retraining as solar technicians to bring power to the country’s 95 million people who live without electric light. The country now has the fastest growing solar sector in the world with 2 million households fitted with solar power units.

6) Falling technology prices, innovation and some decent government initiatives have seen renewables taking an increasing share of global electricity generation.

7) In every part of the world (barring the Middle East) governments are taking advantage of the cheapest way to bring down their emissions – by saving energy.

8) Measures to cut emissions are turning out to be not just cost effective but actually a business imperative.

9) Oil and gas companies are finding it increasingly expensive to find and extract their buried gravy.

10) Since 2011 electric car sales have doubled every year. Consumer acceptance of the technology is on an exponential growth curve that researchers say will see more than one million such vehicles driven across the world by the end of 2015.

Via Georges Wagner
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

These are great reasons to be cautiously optimistic.  

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from FUKUSHIMA 311 WATCHDOGS!

Wind Energy Beats Nuclear & Carbon Capture For Global Warming Mitigation

Wind Energy Beats Nuclear & Carbon Capture For Global Warming Mitigation | Zero Footprint |

There's an enduring myth related to wind energy and nuclear energy that needs to be put to bed. That myth is that only nuclear can be scaled to sufficient capacity to reduce the impacts of global warming, and that wind energy is much less scalable so it should be ignored.

And there’s another myth related to carbon capture and sequestration being more significant than renewables that has to be assessed as well.

China is the true test bed for maximum scalability of nuclear vs wind. It has a tremendous gap between demand and generation. It can mostly ignore lack of social license for nuclear. It is building both wind and nuclear as rapidly as possible.   [...] And in four years it has built significantly less nuclear generation capacity than it built of wind generation capacity in 2013 alone.

Globally nuclear capacity has diminished and is expected to continue to diminish over the next few years as France shuts off 33% of its fleet in favour of mostly wind energy, Germany shuts off its fleet, [...]  In empirical terms it doesn’t matter what anybody claims is possible: wind energy is growing rapidly while nuclear is going backwards. That’s reality.

What about the carbon capture and sequestration myth?

When coal burns, the carbon combines with oxygen, and the resulting CO2 weighs 2.86 times the weight of the coal. Close to three times the weight of coal in CO2 must be be shipped to somewhere else for sequestration.

Doing a little math, it’s apparent that CCS will add from $168 to $196 to the cost of a MWh of coal generation. That’s 16.8 to 19.6 cents per KWh which puts existing coal plants impossibly deep into unprofitable territory. For comparison, in the mid-West US states the total price of newly built wind generation including PPA, PTC, grid interconnections and additional ancillary services is 5.4 cents per KWh and dropping.

Where does this leave the claims about nuclear and CCS?

Nuclear isn’t more scalable than wind or other renewables, in fact it’s going in reverse while renewables are being expanded rapidly. And CCS won’t dodge more climate change than renewables because wind and solar are being built in production rapidly and CCS isn’t and won’t be in comparable scales because the economics don’t support it. Both are busted myths.

Via D'un Renard
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Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years

Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years | Zero Footprint |

(April 15, 2014) Asia is now leagues ahead of other regions within the global wind market. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow at an annual cumulative capacity rate of more than 10 percent over the coming five years. A recent Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report shows other significant wind energy markets of the past few years have slowed in comparison. However, overall global growth of wind energy will remain firm with a hopeful measure of expanding growth again.


The wind market for 2013 was an “off” year. Less wind energy capacity was installed in 2013 than in 2012. This disappointment saw the biggest drop in the market’s relatively short life. From 1996 through 2013, annual installed capacity for wind grew at an average rate of more than 20 percent.


Of course, 2013 was still the 5th-best year on record for new wind power capacity, and if you take out the US for all those years (given its exceptionally poor performance in 2013), things look even better.


If you look at the cumulative capacity chart (above), you can hardly notice any dip in growth.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

At the current rate of growth of wind energy, which has been about 25% growth per year, starting from a mere 2.87% of all electrical energy in 2014, we will reach 100% in only 16 years.

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Poll: Carbon Tax Reused for Renewables Could Work for U.S. Voters

Poll: Carbon Tax Reused for Renewables Could Work for U.S. Voters | Zero Footprint |
A recent poll shows that contrary to Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott's assertions, voters will back a carbon tax if it is used correctly.


... support for a carbon tax changes dramatically when it comes to scenarios in which the funds are either reimbursed to taxpayers or used to fund renewable energy projects.

Sixty percent of those surveyed gave thumbs-up to the more creative form of a carbon tax where it is then used to fund renewable energy.

Stats also showed that respondents weren’t really as worried about getting their money back as about seeing the funds go to a useful “green” purpose.

Those numbers clashed dramatically with respondents’ feelings about a carbon tax in which the funds are then used to pay off the federal deficit. Only 38 percent overall said they would go along with that strategy. 

When it comes to the carbon tax, voters say, it’s the results that count.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is just as I thought.   People do want the right thing, and furthermore, they don't want to see their tax contributions wasted.


Another "green" option they didn't explicitly talk about was whether carbon tax revenues could be used to remove carbon emissions.  If we set the tax to a rate that would pay for the cost of removing the carbon emissions being taxed, and if we then actually remove the carbon emissions, that means this particular cause of our global warming problems would be taken care of.   We don't necessarily need to eliminate fossil fuel burning, if we at least cancel out its negative effects.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Change 2020!!

"The World in 2025" Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies

"The World in 2025" Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies | Zero Footprint |

In a recently released vision of the future, Thomson Reuters analysts predict solar power will be the dominant form of energy by 2025.


The report is an extrapolation of today’s emerging technologies. To make their predictions, analysts combined the most cited scientific articles over the last few years with a study of which fields are attracting the most patents.

“Solar Is the Largest Source of Energy on the Planet”
Due to advancements in photovoltaics, chemistry, photocatalysts, and 3D nanoscale heterojunctions, the way we collect, store, and convert solar energy will be far more efficient. From homes and offices to factory floors, solar will be our main source of energy. The most highly cited paper in the last two years relay new methods and materials for solar technology.

“Electric Air Transportation Takes Off”
Improvements in battery technology and new lightweight materials will drive the invention and adoption of electric aircraft and cars. Advances in lithium-ion batteries, reversible hydrogen storage, nanomaterials in fuel cells, and thin-film batteries will stockpile energy to power light, micro-commercial aircraft for short hops. These next-gen planes will be able to take off and land in less space.

“Petroleum-Based Packaging Is History; Cellulose-Derived Package Rules”
Totally biodegradable nanocellulose packaging will replace plastics in food, medicine, electronics, textiles, and consumer products. These pseudo-plastics are derived from biological materials and may also find use in controlled-release pharmaceuticals for ingestion. Plastic packaging will be nearly extinct in a decade.

Via the Change Samurai
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

All this in just 11 years?  Seems a bit too optimistic even for me, mostly because it takes a long time to make such significant changes without a large-scale concerted effort.  But I'm sure many of these will be in various stages of deployment, and there will be many more surprises along the way.

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First-of-its-Kind Map Details Extent of Plastic in Five Ocean Gyres

First-of-its-Kind Map Details Extent of Plastic in Five Ocean Gyres | Zero Footprint |

When a research team set sail on a nine-month, worldwide expedition in 2010 to study the impact of global warming on Earth’s oceans, one of their projects was to locate the accumulations of plastic.

They found plenty. They explored the five huge gyres, which collectively contain tens of thousands of tons of plastic. The result was the creation of a compelling, first-of-its-kind map of this debris.


But in the process, they realized that the plastic in the gyres didn’t begin to account for the enormous amount of plastic that’s been manufactured since the mass production of plastic began in the mid 1940s.

In a National Geographic report, marine biologist Andres Cozar Cabañas, who was part of theMalaspina expedition led by the Spanish National Research Council, said:


“Our observations show that large loads of plastic fragments, with sizes from microns to some millimeters, are unaccounted for in the surface loads. But we don’t know what this plastic is doing. The plastic is somewhere—in the ocean life, in the depths or broken down into fine particles undetectable by nets.”

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Sustainable Futures!

$5.1 Trillion to be Invested in Renewable Energy by 2030 - CleanTechies

$5.1 Trillion to be Invested in Renewable Energy by 2030 - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint |

$5.1 trillion dollars is one very big number. It’s a figure equal to just a little less than one-third of the U.S. economy’s annual GDP. $5.1 trillion is the amount that will be invested by 2030 to build new power plants that use renewable energy, according to a Bloomberg News Energy Finance report.


Out of 5,000 gigawatts of power generation capacity to be added worldwide by 2030, renewable power will account for 4,000 gigawatts—nearly 80 percent of all new capacity. The leading technology in these new clean energy installations will be solar power, say the Bloomberg analysts. They predict that solar will be economically competitive with other power sources by 2020.

Solar and wind power’s combined share of global generation will rise to 16 percent of the world’s total by 2030, up from its current 3 percent, predicts the Bloomberg forecast.

Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is good, but it could be better. Why not use renewable resources for 100% of new capacity?  Why not do even more than that, by replacing the current fossil fuels with 100% renewable, as much as we can afford, as soon as possible?

Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, July 9, 4:54 PM

Since 2011, annual investment in renewable energy technologies has totaled more than the dollars invested in fossil fuel power generation. This upward trend for clean energy shows every sign of continuing to rise.

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World Bank: Climate Change Policies Will Boost Global Economy

World Bank: Climate Change Policies Will Boost Global Economy | Zero Footprint |
World Bank report finds that policies to fight climate change could boost the global economy big-time.


The economic argument against taking action on climate change — i.e., “It’s just too expensive!” — is fast becoming passé, with a World Bank report this month noting that policies to cut carbon pollution might actually boost the global economy by up to $2.6 trillion a year.


The 88-page report, “Climate-Smart Development: Adding Up the Benefits of Actions that Help Build Prosperity, End Poverty and Combat Climate Change,” focuses on five countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the United States – plus the European Union. Big benefits will flow by 2030 if that group implements just three sets of policies on clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry and energy efficiency in buildings, the report asserts.

The World Bank’s finding matches that of the recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, “Energy Technology Perspectives,” according to a ThinkProgress article. The IEA found that an aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency (and energy storage) to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit/2 degrees Celsius would be staggeringly cost-effective, “resulting in net savings of $71 trillion” by 2050.

As the World Bank says, “Thanks to a growing body of research, it is now clear that climate-smart development can boost employment and can save millions of lives.” Smart development policies and projects can also slow the pace of adverse climate changes. “Based on this new scientific understanding, and with the development of new economic modeling tools to quantify these benefits, it is clear that the objectives of economic development and climate protection can be complementary.”


What in the world are we waiting for?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Not only must we move rapidly to shut down the entire fossil fuel industry for environmental reasons, it also makes economic sense. Across the board, it makes more sense to shift to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible compared to the alternative of not doing so.

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How to Leapfrog Carbon

How to Leapfrog Carbon | Zero Footprint |

In the 18th century, Germany was burning wood. In the 19th century, it was burning coal. In the 20th century, it was burning oil. Today it's getting electricity from solar and renewables.

But what if the dozens of developing countries across the globe, that are still stuck in the 18th century and that still rely on burning wood for energy, jumped directly to renewable energy, and leapfrogged the whole carbon cycle?


Can you imagine how that would transform the fight against global warming and climate change?


Well, that's exactly what's going on right now in rural India.

The bottom line is that solar power and other renewable forms of energy are the energy of today and of the future, in both developed and developing nations. Not coal. Not oil. Not natural gas.

And as the richest country in the world, we need to finally embrace that fact, and lead the world in investing more in these clean and green energies that will be powering our country into the future.

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The energy payback for a 2-megawatt wind turbine that lasts over 20 years is... 5-8 months

The energy payback for a 2-megawatt wind turbine that lasts over 20 years is... 5-8 months | Zero Footprint |
Anti-renewable energy people often claim that it takes a lot of energy to make wind turbines so they aren't as clean as they seem. Let's look at the facts.


The first thing to remember is that there's no such thing as a free lunch; building anything requires an upfront investment. Coal and natural gas power plants take a lot of energy to build too, and on top of that initial energy deficit, it also takes a lot of energy to mine coal or frack for natural gas, and then transport it in trains or pipelines, etc. With renewables, the wind and the sun are free, so after the production and installation, you're pretty much done for decades.

A new study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing looks at the cumulative energy payback of 2-megawatt wind turbines that are used in the Pacific Northwest, precisely calculating the lifecycle energy required for manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and turbine end-of-life processing, and looking at how that stacks up against energy production over the life of the turbines (a working life of 20 years or more is not unusual).

The payback for the associated energy use is within about 5-8 months, and even in the worst case scenario, lifetime energy requirements for each turbine only takes 1 year of operation. So for the next 19 years, each turbine will, in effect, power over 500 households without consuming electricity generated using conventional energy sources, and if the turbines end up operating for over 20 years, that's just a bonus.

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78. Chasing Net-Zero: Net-zero 101

78. Chasing Net-Zero: Net-zero 101 | Zero Footprint |
This is the first episode of our four-part mini-series called Chasing Net-Zero. These solar powered, energy efficient homes generate as much energy as they consume in the course of the year and they're making a big splash across North America. In our first episode we dive into the history of net-zero homes and figure out you can build one of these comfortable, beautiful homes that also doubles as a mini-powerplant. 
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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.

Tom Cockburn's curator insight, July 13, 2:52 AM

Vital debate for the future