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50 ideas for sustainable cities

50 ideas for sustainable cities | Zero Footprint |

Since May 2012, ten Fraunhofer Institutes and numerous industrial, commercial and municipal partners have been working together to develop concepts for clean, efficient and life-enhancing urban environments.  Having analyzed six cities identified as global trendsetters for systemic urban solutions, the Morgenstadt: City Insights innovation network now presents over 100 best practices for sustainable urban development.


Cities are the key to a sustainable future. The political and economic foundations we lay today will determine the quality of tomorrow's ecosystems and the extent to which we will be able to safeguard and protect our global resources in future.

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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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IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable | The Guardian

IPCC climate change report: averting  catastrophe is eminently affordable | The Guardian | Zero Footprint |

Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.


The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. 


Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concluded.

“The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” said EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The only reason we might not be able to change directions fast enough is the belief by too many people that we are doomed, combined with the dominant power structure that continues to benefit by leading us to our doom.  In fact, developing the 100% renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and to recycle 100% of our resources should result in enormous economic activity - i.e. GDP.

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Can India Achieve 100% Renewable Energy?

Can India Achieve 100% Renewable Energy? | Zero Footprint |

Energy Central. - Darshan Goswami.

By 2050, India could rely entirely on renewable energy to create a sustainable energy future.

In the coming years, India will face seemingly insurmountable challenges to its economy, environment and energy security.  To overcome these challenges India needs to shift to non-polluting sources of energy.  As Jeremy Rifkin, an economist and activist, said in New Delhi in January 2012,  “India is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and, if properly utilized, India can realize its place in the world as a great power,” and adding “but political will is required for the eventual shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”


India has tremendous energy needs and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet those needs through traditional means of power generation.  Over 40% of rural Indian households don’t have electricity.

Renewable energy is the only technology that offers India the theoretical potential to service all its long-term power requirements.  The Indian subcontinent is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources.  For instance, taking advantage of 300-330 sunny days a year, India could easily generate 5000 trillion kWh of solar energy, which is higher than India’s total yearly energy consumption.  Even if a tenth of this potential was utilized, it could mark the end of India’s power problems.  Using the country’s deserts and farm land, India could easily install around 1,000 GW of solar generation – equivalent to around four times the current peak power demand (India’s present generation capacity is about 210 GW).


Wind energy can also help India convert to 100% renewable energy.  According to the environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), while India has no estimates of its offshore wind potential, up to 170 GW could be installed by 2050 along the 7,500 km of coastline.  Hydropower could generate an estimated 148 GW, Geothermal around 10.7 GW and Tidal power about 15 GW.  


If these abundantly available resources were properly developed and utilized, all of India’s new energy production could be derived from renewable energy sources by 2030.  In addition, all existing generation could be converted to renewable energy by 2050 while maintaining a reliable power supply in the interim.  Barriers to implementing the renewable energy plan are seen to be primarily social and political, not technological or economic.


Supplying almost 100 % of India’s energy demand through the use of clean renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and biogas, etc. by 2050 is technically and economically feasible.  But, a number of political barriers must be overcome.  As examples of needed reforms, Denmark’s Parliament has passed the most ambitious green economy plan to generate 35% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020 and 100% by 2050.  Iceland, Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain 100% of their power from renewable energy. Three years after Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the Japanese province of Fukushima has pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040.

 Renewable Energy (especially solar and wind) is a game-changer for India: It has the potential to re-energize India’s economy by creating millions of new jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce the trade deficit and propel India forward as a “Green Nation.”  Providing 100% renewable energy is not a fantasy for someday, but a reality today.  India has a golden opportunity to solve three huge problems – reducing poverty, ensuring energy security and combating climate change. But it must act soon!  India can no longer afford to delay renewable energy deployment to meet its future energy needs.
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Zero Waste World

Zero Waste World | Zero Footprint |
When the economy goes in circles, everybody wins.


Welcome to the emerging world of the circular economy. Faced with rising prices for energy and raw materials, along with pressures from environmentalists and regulators who have passed “extended producer responsibility laws” in Europe and some U.S. states, forward-thinking companies are finding ways to take back, reuse, refurbish or recycle all kinds of things that would otherwise be thrown away. In contrast to the traditional “take-make-dispose” linear economy, which depletes resources, a circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.

Inspired by nature, a circular economy aspires not merely to limit waste but to eliminate the very idea of waste: Everything, at the end of its life, should be made into something else, just as in the natural world, one species’ waste is another’s food.

The transition to a circular economy could generate savings of more than $1 trillion in materials alone by 2025, according to an analysis by the U.K.-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum, which are collaborating to promote circular thinking.

So are we moving closer to the circular economy — or further away? Accurate data is hard to come by, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates indicate that recycling rates grew rapidly from 1980 through 2000, and only gradually since then. Disposal of waste to landfill declined from 89 percent of the amount generated in 1980 to 54 percent — about 135 million tons — in 2012.

Clearly there’s lots of work ahead for advocates of the circular economy. But the vision they are pursuing is a bold one: In a truly circular economy, where waste becomes nutrients and energy is renewable, economic growth would be decoupled from environmental restraints. Companies could sell more stuff without generating pollution. Consumers could buy more stuff, without guilt. What’s not to like?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

So paying the full cost for products, including the cost to recycle them completely at the end of their life, could end up costing LESS, not more, since we will design products to be reused longer and eventually recycled.

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Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave

Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint |
A rogue ocean fertilization experiment carried out in 2012 may well prove to be the saviour of the world-renowned Fraser River sockeye salmon run.


When details of this experiment emerged it was widely condemned by scientists, and environmentalists.

And yet, here’s the thing; it appears that this rogue experiment may have worked, and worked much more dramatically than anyone could have foreseen.

One of the most critical nutrients required by phytoplankton is iron. 

For this reason, it has been suggested by a number scientists that adding iron to the ocean could have a beneficial effect on marine life. However the scientists who suggested this approach urged caution, since the effects of ocean fertilization on a large-scale are largely unknown.


Another potential benefit of ocean fertilization is that it could offer a way of sequestering atmospheric carbon. As phytoplankton multiply they use carbon in the process of photosynthesis, just as land-based vegetation does. The theory is that eventually the phytoplankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, where the carbon becomes locked up in sediments on the sea floor. Though not yet scientifically verified, there is reason to believe that large-scale ocean fertilization could sequester significant amounts of atmospheric carbon.


After the experiment became public, it was roundly condemned by environmentalists and scientists alike. However within a few months, satellite imagery showed that a massive 10,000 square kilometer phytoplankton bloom had developed in the Gulf of Alaska, centered around the area which was seeded with iron sulfate. The following year, in 2013, catches of pink salmon from the Pacific Northwest showed a 400% increase over the previous year. The latest estimates for the 2014 Fraser River sockeye run are more than double the numbers for 2010. This would be unprecedented, and would represent by far the biggest ever recorded run of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River.

While its potential effectiveness in removing CO2 from the atmosphere remains unproven, many scientists believe that ocean fertilization may be an inexpensive way of countering a significant percentage of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

There have also been charges that ocean fertilization constitutes geoengineering. If this is the case, what about fertilization of agricultural crops, and the runoff of fertilizer into the ocean? This is unintentional geoengineering, with largely negative consequences.

The removal of atmospheric carbon is not about finding an excuse to carry on with business as usual. It needs to be carried out in parallel with decarbonising our economy. Moving to a low carbon economy does nothing about the extra carbon we have already added to the atmosphere. The only way to deal with that is through direct removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, and the take up of CO2 by photosynthesizing phytoplankton is analogous to encouraging forest growth on land, in that natural processes are being used to reduce atmospheric carbon levels. The process of ocean seeding has exactly the same effect as a large dust storm blowing iron-rich dust into the sea, a process which occurs frequently in the natural world.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I strongly agree with the argument that we MUST do more than merely eliminate carbon emissions.  We MUST do two things: (1) eliminate carbon emissions as soon as possible AND (2) remove the excess CO2 from previous centuries of emissions and any emissions going forward.  

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Envisioning a Sustainable World - The Donella Meadows Institute

Envisioning a Sustainable World - The Donella Meadows Institute | Zero Footprint |

In addition to being a brilliant scientist, Donella Meadows was a truly gifted communicator. Her talks and writing displayed a consistent optimism and a unique ability to reach and inspire people. Her talk below, “Envisioning a Sustainable World,” is a moving example of these qualities and an important reminder of the vital role that vision plays in science and social progress. Presented in 1994 at the Third Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Ecological Economics, “Envisioning a Sustainable World” remains an important message for anyone striving for change.

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Amory Lovins: A 40-year plan for energy | Video on

In this intimate talk filmed at TED's offices, energy innovator Amory Lovins lays out the steps we must take to end the world's dependence on oil (before we run out). He shows how to get the US off oil and coal by 2050, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit. The key is integrating all four energy-using sectors—and four kinds of innovation. Some changes are already happening -- like lighter-weight cars and smarter trucks -- but some require a bigger vision.


In his new book, "Reinventing Fire," Amory Lovins shares ingenious ideas for the next era of energy.

Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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The storage necessity myth: how to choreograph high-renewables electricity systems

It's frequently said that variable wind and solar power endanger reliable electricity supply; and so we need either "baseload" fossil fuel-burning power plants, or breakthroughs in bulk storage. That's a myth. Amory Lovins explains why.


A breakthrough in cheap bulk storage of electricity would be helpful, but not vital.  We needn't wait for it, and the market isn't waiting. Only the myth holds us back.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Fact: the variability of wind and solar does not mean they are unpredictable.  It turns out they are at least as predictable as the variable demand for energy, and fairly closely correlated.  We can cover 100% of electric energy needs with renewable sources together with efficiency improvements by only using small scale distributed storage to fill in about 15% of the supply.

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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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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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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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NREL 2012: 80% Clean, Renewable Energy for U.S. by 2050: More Than Possible, But Need More Political Will (& Public Demand)

NREL 2012: 80% Clean, Renewable Energy for U.S. by 2050: More Than Possible, But Need More Political Will (& Public Demand) | Zero Footprint |

 NREL released a report last week (June 2012) showing that we could power 80% of the US with already commercially available clean, renewable energy technology by 2050. Now, before getting into the key findings from the report, I think it's useful to put this into a bit of perspective and historical context.


Even more ambitious than the above, Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi wrote in 2009 about how the whole world could be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2030. These guys aren’t wackos, either. Mark Z. Jacobson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program, and Mark A. Delucchi is a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. I have seen no indication that they were technically wrong.


Another very reputable body, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), noted this year that research it has conducted has found that clean, renewable energy could cheaply supply 48 states of the continental U.S. with 70% of its electricity demand by 2030 (and that’s without including hydroelectric).


Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country. 

Notably, many technologies that we expect will soon be commercially viable weren’t even included in the identified renewable energy potential, because the study focused on commercially available technologies. This includes floating offshore wind turbines, enhanced geothermal, wave energy, tidal energy, ocean thermal energy conversion, and more. Add all of that in and I’m sure 100% renewable energy is more than viable.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is an older report, but I am scooping it for the record and the references to related studies.

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The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter?

The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter? | Zero Footprint |

The solar industry has been very hot. Record amounts of new solar capacity have been installed over the past two years. The accelerating pace of adoption of solar panels for distributed generation (installed at the point of use, rather than sold into the power grid) and the downward trend of module prices have created exuberance over the industry’s future.


The rapidly decreasing costs of solar cells and corresponding growth of the global solar industry have lead people to invoke Moore’s law and predict that the installed capacity of solar PV on homes and businesses will double every two years.  The total installed capacity worldwide and in the U.S. doubled over the last two and a half years.

The longer-term future of the solar industry, and especially the future of distributed solar PV, is exciting and the economic potential is simply immense. The industry will certainly go through a period of exponential growth.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Doubling solar capacity every 2.5 years is a growth rate of about 32%. If that same growth rate continues, starting at 100,000 MW in 2013, the global solar capacity will exceed the current total electrical capacity (5,000,000 MW) in just 15 years.

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Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century | Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice | McKinsey & Company

Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century | Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice | McKinsey & Company | Zero Footprint |

The prophets of doom are wrong. They believe the rapid rise over the next two decades of a new 2.5-billion-person urban middle class—and the unprecedented demand this growth will generate for oil, gas, steel, land, food, water, cement, clean air, and other commodities—must inevitably spur a global economic and environmental crisis. Our new book, Resource Revolution, takes that challenge seriously—but comes to exactly the opposite conclusion.


Instead, we believe, the chance to meet soaring demand in a sustainable way by transforming how companies and societies prosper represents nothing less than the biggest business opportunity in one hundred years. The combination of information technology, nanoscale materials, and biotech with traditional industrial technology can unleash a step-change in resource productivity and generate enormous new profit pools. 

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Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George

Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George | Zero Footprint |
Iron in Sahara dust shown to produce massive Bahama carbon sink with similar effects proposed in ocean regions around the world.


A great mystery about how CO2 in ocean water is converted into solid carbonates is solved which in turn explains the formation of  vast regions of carbonate geology on the world’s seabeds.

This post was inspired by a terrific new and important paper that speaks to the role of Saharan dust, the iron and other mineral micronutrients it carries to the ocean, and how this results in a new explanation of the power and potency of ocean photosynthesis in regulating global CO2.


The dust that blows from land to the oceans proves to have yet another powerful mechanism through which in partnership with ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton it works to manage global CO2. This time the cyanobacteria/blue-green algae are stimulated to fix nitrogen which fuels plankton blooms and directly causes the precipitation and sinking of carbonate minerals sending vast quantities of CO2 to the seabed. 

However dust reaching the oceans and the iron it carries is in dramatic decline!

To make matters worse (from the oceans point of view) our high and rising CO2 improves plant growth on land producing much improved “ground cover” around the world which in turn by covering the ground is preventing dust from blowing out to sea where missing dust and minerals especially iron is the death knell for ocean pastures and their plankton blooms.

The solution to our own and Mother Natures deadly dilemma is of course for us to simple do the right thing. We must and we can restore and revive vital ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton by giving back to them the dust we are denying them. This is amazingly effective, immediately deployable, inexpensive, proven in real ocean large scale work, methodology and technology comes with the bonus that it begins with the fact that it  BRINGS BACK THE FISH, billions of fish to feed our children (feeding the kids, that’s proven too!)

There is a fine write up in FORBES magazine  27 July 2014 about the iron clad proof of CO2 sequestration for geologic time and about my work in this field.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We have a conflict: Since oceans NEED the iron dust blown from the land in order to grow the phytoplankton to sequester carbon and feed fish, if we improve ground cover, growing more land plants, we will end up preventing the dust from blowing out to sea.  


So until we get things balanced again, it appears we MUST fertilize the oceans ourselves.  

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Is Healthy Soil the Low-Tech Solution to Climate Change?

Is Healthy Soil the Low-Tech Solution to Climate Change? | Zero Footprint |
In her book The Soil Will Save Us, writer Kristin Ohlson concludes that the low-cost, low-tech solution to climate change may be directly underfoot—in healthy soil.


Kristin interviews farmers, soil scientists, and agronomists and concludes that the low-cost, low-tech solution to climate change may be directly underfoot—in healthy soil. Crops have an enormous capability to sequester carbon, she writes, but only if the soil is made to thrive with a mix of no-till farming, cover crops, and livestock grazing. Gabe Brown, a farmer and rancher in North Dakota, has been practicing this sort of agriculture for decades—and says it can be successful just about anywhere.


Listen to this interview with Kristin and Gabe on Science Friday.

more...'s curator insight, August 16, 6:52 PM

Yes!   Trees and native vegetation and soil makers activate the water cycle to clean and cool air and water so more vegetation can thrive....cultivating the soil so humans can grow Eden to cool, heat, buffer their habitat from extremes...pleasant environments that will grow if humans let nature grow abundant flows of riches enough for All 100% to share....even with the 1%.    Humans need to count more than metal coins to thrive.

Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Inequality, Poverty, and Corruption: Effects and Solutions!

Building towards 'nearly zero energy' cities - Phys.Org

Building towards 'nearly zero energy' cities - Phys.Org | Zero Footprint |

An ambitious four-year project is to develop and demonstrate replicable strategies for designing, constructing and managing large scale district renovation projects for achieving nearly zero energy cities.


Though the 'zero energy' concept is billed as a means to reduce carbon emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, it remains relatively uncommon in developed countries but is fast becoming a possibility through the progress made in new energy and construction technologies.

Via Jocelyn Stoller
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RMI Blows The Lid Off The “Baseload Power” Myth (Video)

RMI Blows The Lid Off The “Baseload Power” Myth (Video) | Zero Footprint |

Lovins very effectively debunks the myth that a reliable electricity supply from renewable resources will need either giant “baseload” power stations or yet untested cheap mass electrical storage. 

In plain language and with statistical proof from an hourly dispatch simulator (see graph above), Lovins makes the point that baseload energy does not have to start with fossil or nuclear fuels. In fact, that method appears to be one of the costliest ways to ensure the grid flexibility necessary to counter variable supply and demand. A “renewables first” strategy can both even the power load and keep spilled power to only about 5%.

Give the Lovins model a look. If you already get the point, the presentation of stats in these graphics is really first-rate and may help you educate others less knowledgeable than yourself—or more cynical.

Via D'un Renard
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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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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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