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What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity – State of the Planet

What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity – State of the Planet | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
What can we as individuals do to help slow the loss of biodiversity? Since consumption of resources is a root cause of biodiversity loss, we can consume less and be more mindful about what we consume.

 

Biodiversity—the variety of all living organisms including ecosystems, plants, animals, their habitats and genes—is fundamental to life on Earth. We need biodiversity for its invaluable ecosystem services, providing oxygen, food, clean water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, a stable climate and recreation. Tragically, today biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal ratedue to human civilization. Individual species are being obliterated by habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, the spread of pollution and disease, climate change and the over exploitation of resources.


What can we as individuals do to help slow the loss of biodiversity?  Since consumption of resources is a root cause of biodiversity loss, we can consume less and be more mindful about what we consume. We need to leverage our purchasing power to help protect biodiversity by consuming products that do not harm the environment.

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Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030

Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

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

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

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Via John Casey
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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Top Renewable Energy Author “Bullish” on the Future

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

 

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


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


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

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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

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

 

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



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Scotland Aiming for 100% Clean Energy by 2025 - EcoLocalizer

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Inverter and racking cost are also declining.

Installation costs will fall by one third in the US.

Sales/Customer Acquisition Cost will fall even further.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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Sustainability challenged as many renewable resources max out

Sustainability challenged as many renewable resources max out | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

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

 

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

 

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

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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Let's make fossil fuels history

Let's make fossil fuels history | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Together, we will show that we are a truly global and growing force to be reckoned with. As the fossil fuel industry throws more money at fossil fuel expansion, we will turn up the volume of our divestment movement. And we won’t stop until we win.

Join us for Global Divestment Day on February 13 and 14 and together, let’s make fossil fuels history.
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Deutsche Bank Predicts Solar Grid Parity In 80% Of Global Market By 2017

Deutsche Bank Predicts Solar Grid Parity In 80% Of Global Market By 2017 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, and says the collapse in the oil price will do little to slow down the solar juggernaut.

“We believe the trend is clear: grid parity without subsidies is already here, increasing parity will occur, and solar penetration rates are set to ramp worldwide,” Shah notes.

 

In the US, solar demand is expected to jump five fold to 16,000MW in 2016, making it the biggest market in the world ahead of China (which is expected to be about 13,000MW a year).

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The rapid acceleration of solar energy deployment has already started, and grid parity means there's no stopping it now.

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Peru lifts renewable energy target to 60% by 2025, aims for 100% long term

Peru lifts renewable energy target to 60% by 2025, aims for 100% long term | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Peru is looking to lift its renewable energy target from 46% to 60% over the next 10 years, and use solar - not coal - to solve energy poverty.

 

The plans include a program to install 500,000 solar arrays to lift the access to electricity to 99 per cent from the current level of 92 per cent by 2019. Most of these are in rural areas. Of course, they see no need to use coal to end energy poverty.


In the longer term, Peru says it aims to substitute gas with a mix of renewables including hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal. It is estimated that Peru has some 3,000GW of geothermal energy potential, but this has yet to be exploited.



Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Increasingly, "no need for coal" will lead to the demise of that part of the fossil fuel industry.

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World Bank to ditch coal for clean energy

World Bank to ditch coal for clean energy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The World Bank will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need” because climate change will undermine efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, says its President Jim Yong Kim.


Kim was backed by Rachel Kyte, World Bank group vice president and special envoy for climate change. “It will only be in circumstances of extreme need that we would contemplate doing coal again. We would only contemplate doing [it] in the poorest of countries where their energy transition as part of their low-carbon development plan means that there are no other base load power sources available at a reasonable price,” she said.


“The bank has taken an important first step in essentially stopping its support for coal-fired power plants, but climate change is caused by more than just coal,” said Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International. “The vast majority of currently proven fossil fuel reserves will need to be left in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, but last year the bank provided nearly $1 billion in support for finding more of these unburnable carbon reserves.”


Via SustainOurEarth
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

More and more money is turning away from fossil fuels, which signals the eventual collapse of the industry, and the sooner the better.

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Recycling Opens the Door to a Circular Economy

Recycling Opens the Door to a Circular Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Recycling is critically important, but it's only one part of a larger, globally emergent environmental paradigm known as the Circular Economy. 

 

The name is literal, referring to an industrial economy that goes far beyond recycling and which only creates secondary materials from primary ones. The Circular Economy is restorative by intention and based on eliminating material loss. To that end, it employs renewable energy, minimizes or eliminates toxic chemicals and avoids waste through careful design. It looks closely at how we design, make, sell, re-use and recycle products to determine how to secure the maximum value, both in use and at the end of their life.

 

With this all-encompassing approach, the Circular Economy aims to eradicate waste -- not just from manufacturing processes but systematically, throughout the life cycle of products and their components. Consciously designing durable goods to be restorative will keep components and products in longer use, and ensure that biological materials can re-enter the biosphere at the end of their lives.

 

Can it work? "Towards the Circular Economy," a 2014 report from the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, estimates that shifting to this model could add over $1 trillion a year to the global economy by 2025 and create 100,000 new jobs within the next five years if companies put their energies behind developing circular supply chains and increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture.

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

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

 

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


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


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


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

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Why dedicating land to bioenergy won't curb climate change

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

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


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


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


Solar Cells Offer an Alternative

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


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

2. Wind and solar energy costs continue to drop precipitously

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

4. Promising policy advances for clean energy integration

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Citi: Battery storage to hasten demise of fossil fuels

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

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


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

 

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

 

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

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


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


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Ocean warming now off the charts

Ocean warming now off the charts | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

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


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

 

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



Via Vikram R Chari
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Cradle-to-cradle design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

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

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

 

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

 

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


Via Vivalist
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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

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

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How it took just one generation to stuff the planet

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

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


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


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


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


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

 

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


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

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

 

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

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Global Divestment Day — 13–14 February 2015 - YouTube

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

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Poor Nations Go for Solar, Wind at Twice the Pace of Rich Ones

Poor Nations Go for Solar, Wind at Twice the Pace of Rich Ones | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Emerging markets are installing renewable energy projects at almost twice the rate of developed nations, a report concluded

 

The boom in renewables is often made for economic reasons, Ethan Zindler, a Washington-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst, said in an interview. An island nation like Jamaica, where wholesale power costs about $300 a megawatt-hour, could generate electricity from solar panels for about half as much. Similarly, wind power in Nicaragua may be half as expensive as traditional energy.

 

“Clean energy is the low-cost option in a lot of these countries,” Zindler said by telephone. “The technologies are cost-competitive right now. Not in the future, but right now.”

 

The International Energy Agency said Oct. 13 that renewable energy and hydropower will supply almost half of the generation required for growth in Africa through 2040, as the sub-Saharan economy quadruples. Energy use in that region, up 45 percent since 2000, is expected to climb 80 percent through 2040.

 
Via Pol Bacquet
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

So Yes the developing world needs to continue developing, and they will use much more energy than they do now, but it can be mostly renewable, if not entirely so.  

 

And while the world population may grow by up to 50%, the much larger growth of renewable energy will be fueled NOT by population growth, but by the enormous need to replace 100% of OUR fossil fuels while also reducing the extreme disparity between rich and poor countries.  

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Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth

Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Researchers based at Princeton University report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the carbon in soil—which contains twice the amount of carbon in all plants and Earth's atmosphere combined—could become increasingly volatile as people add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, largely because of increased plant growth. The researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil, which includes numerous bacteria, fungi, minerals and carbon compounds that respond in complex ways to temperature, moisture and the carbon that plants contribute to soil.


Although a greenhouse gas and pollutant, carbon dioxide also supports plant growth. As trees and other vegetation flourish in a carbon dioxide-rich future, their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the researchers found.


This effect counters current key projections regarding Earth's future carbon cycle, particularly that greater plant growth could offset carbon dioxide emissions as flora take up more of the gas, said first author Benjamin Sulman, who conducted the modeling work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton Environmental Institute.


"You should not count on getting more carbon storage in the soil just because tree growth is increasing," said Sulman, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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More consumption not necessary for human well-being, says UN report

More consumption not necessary for human well-being, says UN report | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Greater food system efficiency and curbs to the expansion of cropland are necessary to prevent the collapse of global ecosystems, says a report presented today (24 January) by the UN at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

 

The report, by the UN Environment Programme’s science think tank the International Resource Panel (IRP), says that policymakers must break the link between greater resource consumption and human well-being.

 

The IRP calls on governments to take immediate action to prevent the degradation of land and soils and to carry out measures to regenerate destroyed areas, rather than moving agricultural production to new sites, through deforestation, for example.


“Today’s report shows how Europe is consuming more than its fair share of land, at the expense of other world regions, and suggests that Europe needs to reduce its consumption of cropland by around a third,” read a statement by Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE), an environmental campaign group.


Via David Rowing
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U.S. Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050, Study Says - CleanTechies

U.S. Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050, Study Says - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The United States can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, using existing or near-commercial technologies, according to researchers with the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. The study analyzed scenarios with four types of decarbonized electricity: renewable energy, nuclear energy, fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage, and a mixed case.

 

The energy efficiency of buildings, transportation, and industry would need to increase through the use of smart materials and energy-efficient designs, and vehicles will need to be fueled with electricity generated from wind, solar, or nuclear, as opposed to coal, the researchers said. They project the net costs would be on the order of 1 percent of gross domestic product per year.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If we can do this, at a cost of only 1% GDP per year, that's good news, but then we can easily do a lot more, a lot sooner.  We really do need to cut emissions all the way down to 0 in only a couple decades, and we need to go further and sequester everything we have already emitted, and somehow cool the oceans where most of the excess heat is being stored.

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Why it pays to join the circular economy - Forum:Blog

Why it pays to join the circular economy - Forum:Blog | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The circular economy in developing countries will explode over the coming decade, creating up to 7 million new jobs in China alone, writes Danish MP Ida Auken.

 

We all know that the current linear economic model is not sustainable. Materials are extracted, manufactured into products and then discarded into landfill – it’s a system that wastes valuable resources, causes environmental damage and will make it near impossible to satisfy the demands of the 3 billion new consumers in developing nations, who are expected to join the middle class by 2030.

 

The concept of the circular economy is about decoupling growth from resource consumption – and maximizing the positive environmental, economic and social effects. It’s about designing products so that they are easier to reuse or recycle, like Timberland’s Earthkeeper shoes. It’s about making sure that every product ingredient is biodegradable or fully recyclable, like the chemicals company that has replaced fossil-fuel feedstocks in their production methods. It’s about maximizing useful product life by repairing or remanufacturing, like Caterpillar’s parts-refurbishing programme.

 

There are those already catching on to this competitive advantage. Take, for example, anyone involved in the World Economic Forum and Young Global Leader’s first annual Circular Economy Awards, which recognizes ideas leading the transformation towards a truly restorative industrial economy.

 

More on the circular economy
Blog: Why China is embracing circularity
Forum report: Towards the circular economy
Ellen MacArthur: It’s time to invest in regeneration

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