Zero Footprint
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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions | Zero Footprint |

"The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan represents the kind of visionary work that should be eagerly embraced.  It is the first time that I have seen a plan that makes the possibility of zero emissions feasible and affordable.  In particular, solar energy offers so much promise in the dry and sunny continent.  Politicians have been postponing decisions in this area for too long." - Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal 

"100% renewable energy with zero emissions is achievable in Australia in about a decade if politics takes concerted actions…Moreover, Australia can become the initiator for a serious attempt to shift the world to a solar economy. This is the only promising strategy for climate protection and would provide societies around the world with solutions for climate protection, economic development, poverty reduction and conflict resolution. We need action now!" - Hans-Josef Fell


"Every nation in the world should make a plan like this.  If one can get a 100% renewable, zero carbon electricity system by investing 3% of GDP (and 10% of gross investment) for ten years, there is no good reason not to do it. Except, maybe, the straitjacket of old ways of thinking and doing.

This plan lays out a high solar-wind renewable future and then does more.  It looks carefully at the materials requirements of such a future, an aspect of the matter too often left unaddressed.

Australia could be the first large economy to show the way." - John O. Blackburn


"I get to work with people all over the world in the fight against global warming, a fight growing increasingly desperate as temperatures climb and rainfall patterns shift. Since Australia leads the world in per capita emissions, it makes sense that its transition planners would be thinking big. This transition obviously won't be easy or simple or cost-free, but given the alternatives it's very nice to know it's technically feasible!" - Bill McKibben 


"I strongly endorse the broad concept of such a solar and wind plan and applaud the work of the University of Melbourne and Beyond Zero Emissions.  Our own work underway to calculate the feasibility of a 100% solar - wind plan for the United States has so far had the aim of  testing technical feasibility, and the match seems to be 99-100%. " - Dr David Mills




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Fukushima horror will be visited on U.S. unless we shift to 100% renewable energy | Green Shadow Cabinet

Fukushima horror will be visited on U.S. unless we shift to 100% renewable energy | Green Shadow Cabinet | Zero Footprint |

As the horror show at Fukushima worsens by the day, our opposition to atomic energy becomes ever more vital. Now more than ever, we advocate a total "solartopian" shift to renewables for our planet's energy supply.


It has been shown for many years that wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation and much more in terms of green energy can power this planet cheaply, cleanly and safely while creating millions of jobs and taking root far more quickly than any "new generation" of reactors.


We therefore urge that the nations of the world immediately focus their best energies on containing the horrifying contamination radiating from Fukushima while devoting all the technical, scientific and economic resources necessary to transition our global economy onto a Solartopia green-powered basis as rapidly as possible.

  --  Harvey Wasserman   Secretary of Energy, Green Shadow Cabinet
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If nuclear power had started out independent of nuclear weapons, and if the last 50 years had been about developing the really safe technology that has always been possible, well we would all be better off.  But that's not what happened.  


And now, while we may continue research in nuclear technologies, all the large-scale investments should be focused on developing and deploying 100% renewable resources.   Shut down all the subsidies of nuclear and fossil fuel industries, start charging the true costs, and recoup all the externalities, and then channel those funds into renewable energy instead.  

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Renewables future no more costly than fossil fuels : Renew Economy

The Australian government appears to have made a remarkable concession following the release of the 100% renewables report by the country’s energy market operator – a renewables future will be no more costly than a largely fossil fuel alternative.


This should not be a surprise to anyone who has properly considered the costs of new generation – as ACT minister Simon Corbell has – and their likely progress in coming years. Wind, and then solar, clearly offer the cheapest options.


New coal and gas plants will be priced out of the market, an important consideration when taking into account that most current generation needs to be replaced in coming decades. (Some pro-nuclear web-sites and commentators like to say that nuclear energy will be within the same cost bracket, but that is only if the cost of capital is ignored.)

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Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free Energy Economy Is Inevitable

Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free Energy Economy Is Inevitable | Zero Footprint |
While a clean energy future is inevitable, questions remain about how quickly we will get there.


The impossible has become inevitable. A carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy is our future. Despite the energy industry's hard work to keep energy dirty and damaging, the future will be clean and sustainable. Government is not leading the way. The new energy revolution is coming from the ground up, not the top down.


The roadmap to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy


Is this possible? Arjun Makhijani, who has a PhD in engineering with a specialization in nuclear fusion from the University of California, was challenged in 2006 to answer this question.


The result was a book: Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy. When the book was first published in 2007, he predicted we could be carbon-free and nuclear-free by 2050. Today, with advances in technology, he believes the transition could be completed in 20 to 25 years.


His central finding was that "actual physical emissions of CO2 from the energy sector can be eliminated with technologies that are either now available or foreseeable. This can be done at reasonable cost while creating a much more secure energy supply than at present." This would end the need for importation of oil, wars for oil and destruction of the environment to extract coal, oil and methane gas. And Makhijani points to large ancillary health benefits including the elimination of most regional and local air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion.


Among the first steps recommended in Makhijani's roadmap are to eliminate all subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels and nuclear power, including guarantees for nuclear waste disposal from new power plants, loan guarantees and subsidized insurance as well as eliminating subsidies for biofuels from food crops. He recommends a ban on new coal-fired power plants that do not have carbon storage. Obviously, approval for mountaintop removal should be stopped, as should construction of the KXL and other pipelines, the extraction of tar sands for oil and further hydro-fracking for methane gas (which the industry falsely calls "natural" gas for marketing reasons).


Makhijani is not the only person who envisions a clean, renewable energy future. A 2013 report by Synapse Energy Economics for the nonprofit think tank Civil Society Institute found that in the US, reliance on wind, solar and other renewables "could meet or exceed demand in 99.4 percent of hours" by 2050. According to the author of the report, Thomas Vitolo, "Put simply, the message is this: It is a myth to say the United States cannot rely on renewables for the bulk of electricity generation." In fact, they find that relying on carbon and nuclear energy sources by 2050 is "far less feasible, and presents much more daunting technical, economic, and social challenges to human and environmental welfare."

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Estimating the Externalities of Fossil Fuels Isn’t an Easy Job | CleanTechies Blog

Estimating the Externalities of Fossil Fuels Isn’t an Easy Job | CleanTechies Blog | Zero Footprint |

I sympathize with those tasked with putting a precise dollar figure on the externalities of fossil fuels. Sure we know there are costs to society in terms of lung damage and long-term environmental damage, but what are they?


who can estimate even the short-term damage to these people’s lives? And that’s far easier than guessing at the long-term implications to refining “the dirtiest of the dirty fuels” and expelling the poisonous waste into a world that really doesn’t know what it’s buying into. It’s an impossible task. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

There is a relatively easy way to determine the cost of the externalities of burning fossil fuels. First, determine the cost of removing all the emissions that result from the burning, and the mining, drilling, refining, transporting, etc. The cost of removing the emissions can be determined by an auction where bidders would actually provide the removal and cleanup services, and the cost would be billed to those creating the emissions. That should take care of removing the emissions, and thus eliminate the externalities as well. Mission accomplished.

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Mapping All Of The World’s Animals, So We Know Where To Save Them

Mapping All Of The World’s Animals, So We Know Where To Save Them | Zero Footprint |

If your goal is to protect species variety (biodiversity), it helps to have a fine-grained picture. A map showing data for an area 100 by 100 kilometers tells you some useful things about the state of population. But it might miss an awful lot.


"Such a coarse scale of analyzing the data causes many problems," says Clinton Jenkins, a research scholar at North Carolina State. "For instance, a grid cell 100 kilometers across could include multiple Andean Mountain ranges within Colombia, yet we know many species occur only at one or another range, and often only at particular elevations within the mountains."


Jenkins produced these maps, which are about 100-times more fine-grained than normal. They show the diversity (number of species) for mammals, amphibians and birds, across the world. The highest concentrations (red and yellow) are mostly in the tropics. Higher latitudes and deserts are blue, indicating lower numbers of species.

Via Lauren Moss
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Where the species are is one thing we need to know.  How sensitive they are to our disturbance is the other thing.   We are messing up pretty much everywhere, but this map makes it clear we should probably be even more careful in the tropics.  


By the way, the oceans have a few more species, I thought.

degrowth economy and ecology's comment, August 6, 2013 7:00 AM
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Report: Renewables Could Power Nearly All US Energy Usage by 2050

Report: Renewables Could Power Nearly All US Energy Usage by 2050 | Zero Footprint |

Research counters 'myth' that country cannot rely on wind, solar and other renewable sources. By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, April 23, 2013


If the US ceases to burn coal and ratchets down both nuclear and natural gas usage, the resulting reliance on wind, solar and other renewables “could meet or exceed demand in 99.4 percent of hours” by 2050, according to a recent report (pdf) by Synapse Energy Economics for the nonprofit think tank Civil Society Institute (CSI).


Based on these “projected mixes” of existing technology and operational practices, the grid is capable of balancing projected load “for each region, in nearly every hour of every season of the year” demonstrating—the report asserts— that the “strategies to address one of the most pressing challenges faced by our species and our planet are already not only achievable, but cost effective.’’

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I expect we could get to 100% renewable energy even more quickly.  We actually need to shut down all fossil fuel burning as soon as possible, and start removing excess CO2 as soon as possible.

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Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel

Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel | Zero Footprint |

( —Lawrence Livermore scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.

The team demonstrated, at a laboratory scale, a system that uses the acidity normally produced in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution while producing hydrogen fuel and other gases. The resulting electrolyte solution was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration that in turn proved strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric CO2.


Further, the researchers suggest that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced in the process could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification, similar to how an Alka Seltzer neutralizes excess acid in the stomach.


"When powered by renewable electricity and consuming globally abundant minerals and saline solutions, such systems at scale might provide a relatively efficient, high-capacity means to consume and store excess atmospheric CO2 as environmentally beneficial seawater bicarbonate or carbonate," Rau said. "But the process also would produce a carbon-negative 'super green' fuel or chemical feedstock in the form of hydrogen."

Via Darin Hoagland
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Seems natural to build such a process into a large number of offshore wind turbines, maybe combined with wave energy and solar energy systems.  The distribution of acid-neutralizing carbonate and bicarbonate would be as diffuse as the distributed energy generation. 

Darin Hoagland's curator insight, May 29, 2013 10:03 PM

Interesting renewable fuel possibility and global warming correction.

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Enabling environment needed to upscale world’s renewable energy projects

Enabling environment needed to upscale world’s renewable energy projects | Zero Footprint |

Challenges in scaling up implementation of renewable energy must be addressed if the target of 100% sustainable renewables by 2050 is to be achieved, according to a new WWF report.


A previous WWF report, The Energy Report, calls for 100% renewable energy by 2050 as the only viable energy option to meet the plethora of challenges from combating climate change effectively, hedging against risks of volatile and costly fossil fuel imports particularly for poor nations, addressing air pollution health and contributing to sustainable energy services for the poor.


WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith says while setting targets represents a clear commitment to renewable energy, simply setting these targets is not enough. “The real job is to create an enabling environment, including money, ensuring access for the poor, infrastructure and capacity building. This is what will ensure these targets are achieved,” she says.

“Financing is a particularly significant challenge and the WWF’s global campaign Seize Your Power! launched earlier this month urges governments and financial institutions worldwide to increase investment in renewable energy,” says Smith.

WWF Director for Global Energy Policy Dr Stephan Singer says scaling up the implementation of renewable energy is possible “if countries avoid the mistakes and learn from successes” of countries which have pioneered implementation. 


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The Cities We Want: Resilient, Sustainable, and Livable

The Cities We Want: Resilient, Sustainable, and Livable | Zero Footprint |

Resilience is the word of the decade, as sustainability was in previous decades. No doubt, our view of the kind and quality of cities we as societies want to build will continue to evolve and inspire a new descriptive goal. Surely we have not lost our desire for sustainable cities, with footprints we can globally and locally afford, even though our focus has rightly been on resilience, after what seems like a relentless drum beat of natural disasters around the world.


It speaks to the question: what is the city we want to create in the future? What is the city in which we want to live? Certainly that city is sustainable, since we want our cities to balance consumption and inputs to make a footprint that can last into the future. Certainly it is resilient, so our cities are still in existence after the next 100-year storm, now apparently due every few years.


And yet: as we build this vision we know that cities must also be livable. Indeed, we must view livability as the third indispensible—and arguably most important—leg supporting the cities of our dreams: resilient + sustainable + livable.

Via Lauren Moss, ParadigmGallery, luiy
ParadigmGallery's curator insight, May 13, 2013 2:31 PM

We thank you, Lauren Moss, for the interesting post. The post speaks to the three buzz words for our cities now and in the future...livable, resilient, sustainable....


New Yorkers exhibited a lot of personal and psychological resilience after Hurricane Sandy—they picked themselves up and started again, often rebuilding their lives in the same spot. This is true all over: people are resilient in the face of hard times..learn more

ParadigmGallery's comment, May 13, 2013 2:32 PM
interesting post....TY
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Bamboo, Pyrolysis, Bio-Char & Mycorrhizal Fungi: Nature's Machine to Draw Carbon Down Exponentially

Bamboo, Pyrolysis, Bio-Char & Mycorrhizal Fungi: Nature's Machine to Draw Carbon Down Exponentially | Zero Footprint | Charlotte O'Brien, Director of Bio Bamboo and CO2 Drawdown Solutions, explains how to significantly draw down Carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it as a Bio-Char soil conditioner using Bamboo to fuel Pyrolysis. Adding the Bio-Char to depleted soil fosters the spread of Mycorrhizal fungus in the soil, which in turn creates Glomalin (which sequesters even more Carbon). The enriched soil then produces more biomass which can be processed into more biochar...the result is an exponential carbon draw down!
The process also generates a bevy of marketable bi-products.

Via Alan Yoshioka
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Great video about how we can very effectively work with nature to help us repair the centuries of damage we have been inflicting on nature.

Juan Wood's curator insight, July 20, 2013 6:13 PM

Muy bueno, lastima que no tenga subtitulos en Español...

Darin Hoagland's comment, July 26, 2013 10:55 PM
I like how integrated this idea is for it can be brought into the global economy and agriculture while working with nature. I only worry is bamboo can be powerfully invasive and out-compete indigenous plants. Once planted you will have it for a long time so there had better be dedicated harvesting operation.
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Why 100% renewables? Because it is inevitable : Renew Economy

The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is inevitable. Fossil fuels are finite, but will be dumped before they are exhausted on the basis of cost.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Excellent article.  I would quote the whole thing, so go read it instead.

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California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions

California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions | Zero Footprint |

“Our commitment is to make positive environmental contributions from day one,” said Authority CEO Jeff Morales. “High-speed rail will transform the state’s transportation system while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing environmental benefits for years to come.”


The system is to run on 100% clean energy. “To estimate GHG emissions associated with the electricity purchased by the Authority for traction power, which is the power needed to propel the train along the rails, and facilities operations, the Authority assumed a mix of 20 percent solar, 30 percent wind, 45 percent geothermal, and 5 percent biogas (methane capture).” Thus the GHG emission reduction is calculated in terms of the number of passengers that choose to ride the high-speed rail system rather than use a car or airplane.


The CO2 produced during construction is to be offset by a tree planting program. Only recycled concrete and steel is to be used and contractors will be required to divert 75% of their non-hazardous waste from landfills.

Daniel LaLiberte's comment, July 16, 2013 11:32 PM
Elon Musk has been hinting at an idea he calls the Hyperloop — a ground-based transportation technology that would get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour, for less than 1/10 the cost of California’s $69 billion plan.
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With An 'All-Out' Federal Renewable Energy Strategy, How Long Before We Could Be 100% Renewably Powered?

With An 'All-Out' Federal Renewable Energy Strategy, How Long Before We Could Be 100% Renewably Powered? | Zero Footprint |
If an "All-Out" federal strategy on renewable energy started today in the United States, how long would it take for us to be 100% renewably powered? This question was originally answered on Quora by Mark Rogowsky.


Probably 20-30 years to get to 70-80%, but 80 years to get the last 20-30%

There are a lot of roadblocks to 100% renewable energy, but relatively few toward mostly renewable energy — assuming you’ve solved the politics problem. Here’s what you need:

An integrated long-distance grid

Millions of electric cars

Billions of solar panels and millions of wind turbines

X, Y, and Z Prizes

Some amount of biofuel magic will be conjured up

It’s going to take time

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Excellent question, and a well-reasoned answer.  But I suspect that if we really want an all-out effort, we could probably move a lot faster.  How about 5-10 years to get to 70%, another 5-10 years to get to 90%, and then maybe the last 10% will take care of itself.  The faster we move now, the more we will save by not having to deal with as much climate change in the future, so it pays for itself.

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How solar and EVs will kill the last of the industry dinosaurs : Renew Economy

How solar and EVs will kill the last of the industry dinosaurs : Renew Economy | Zero Footprint |

Several years ago, Tony Seba, an energy expert from Stanford University, published a book called Solar Trillions, predicting how solar technologies would redefine the world’s energy markets and create an investment opportunity worth tens of trillions of dollars.


Most people looked at him, he says, as if he had three heads. That was possibly because the book was written before the recent plunge in the cost of solar modules had taken effect, and before most incumbent utilities had woken up to the fact that solar – even with minor penetration levels – was turning their business models upside down.


Seba is now working on a new book, with even more dramatic forecasts than his first. His new prediction is that by 2030, solar will make the fossil fuel industry more or less redundant. Even more striking is his forecast that electric vehicles will do the same thing to the oil industry by around the same date.


The predictions are made on the basis that the cost of solar and EV batteries will continue to fall, while the cost to consumers of sourcing energy from fossil fuels through the grid or liquid fuels will continue to rise. Before the decade is out, Seba says, both technologies will pass a tipping point that will eventually sweep the incumbents aside, just as technology and cost developments have done in the computer, internet, media, photographic and telecommunications industries.


“I am incredibly optimistic that by 2030, nuclear, coal, gas, big hydro, and oil will be all but obsolete,” Seba told RenewEconomy in an interview in San Francisco last month. “The world will be mostly powered by solar and wind, and most new vehicles will be electric. The architecture of energy markets is going from centralized to distributed – in liquids and the electric market.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is why we CAN imagine we are headed toward a 100% renewable energy future.

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Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day | Zero Footprint |

August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day 2013, marking the date when humanity exhausted nature’s budget for the year. We are now operating in overdraft. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Just as a bank statement tracks income against expenditures, Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for and supply of natural resources and ecological services. And the data is sobering. Global Footprint Network estimates that in approximately eight months, we demand more renewable resources and C02 sequestration than what the planet can provide for an entire year.


Not all countries demand more resources and services than their ecosystems can provide.  Australia, for example, uses half the capacity of Australia but its ecological reserve has been eroding over time.


We are well over budget, and that debt is compounding. It is an ecological debt, and the interest we are paying on that mounting debt—food shortages, soil erosion, and the build-up of CO₂ in our atmosphere—comes with devastating human and monetary costs.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is important to recognize that the accelerating overshoot is powered mostly by the wealthier half of the population, where consumption is higher and population growth is lowest.  So the overshoot is not about population growth, but unsusatainable consumption by a few. 

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Amy Larkin, "Environmental Debt: The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy" | Talks At Google

For decades, politicians and business leaders alike told the American public that today's challenge was growing the economy, and that environmental protection could be left to future generations. Now in the wake of billions of dollars in costs associated with coastal devastation from Hurricane Sandy, rampant wildfires across the West, and groundwater contamination from reckless drilling, it's becoming increasingly clear that yesterday's carefree attitude about the environment has morphed into a fiscal crisis of epic proportions.

Amy Larkin has been at the forefront of the fight for the environment for years, and in Environmental Debt she argues that the costs of global warming, extreme weather, pollution and other forms of "environmental debt" are wreaking havoc on the economy. Synthesizing complex ideas, she pulls back the curtain on some of the biggest cultural touchstones of the environmental debate, revealing how, for instance, despite coal's relative fame as a "cheap" energy source, ordinary Americans pay $350 billion a year for coal's damage in business related expenses, polluted watersheds, and in healthcare costs. And the problem stretches far beyond our borders: deforestation from twenty years ago in Thailand caused catastrophic flooding in 2011, and cost Toyota 3.4 percent of its annual production while causing tens of thousands of workers to lose jobs in three different countries.

Provocative and hard-hitting, Environmental Debt sweeps aside the false choices of today's environmental debate, and shows how to revitalize the economy through nature's bounty.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

"Environmental Debt" is the same as a positive footprint, so we need to reduce both to zero.  


It is not just about being more efficient, and using less energy, though we can easily do that to reduce about 30-50% of the footprint. But if we only focus on efficiency, we would have to reduce our energy use to zero, which is obviously not practical, and moreover, not necessary.   Instead, we need to replace our fossil fuel burning with 100% renewable energy.


We can motivate businesses to help us get to that goal faster by factoring in the real cost of pollution, the true cost of environmental damage.  The costs will be passed on to consumers, and thus consumers, when they have the choice, will reward the competing producers that create the least environmental debt.


"Pollution can no longer be free."

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Wind power could generate all the world's electricity needs without large atmospheric disturbances

Wind power could generate all the world's electricity needs without large atmospheric disturbances | Zero Footprint |

There is enough energy for people to reap from the wind to meet all of the world's power demands without radically altering the planet's climate, according to two independent teams of scientists.


Wind power is often touted as environmentally friendly, generating no pollutants. It is an increasingly popular source of renewable energy, with the United States aiming to produce 20 percent of its electricity by wind power by 2030. Still, there have been questions as to how much energy wind power can supply the world, and how green it actually is, given how it pulls energy from the atmosphere.


To learn more, climate scientist Katherine Marvel at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Calif., and her colleagues developed a global climate model that analyzed how wind turbines would drag on the atmosphere to harvest energy from winds at the planet's surface and higher altitudes. Historically, people have built wind turbines on the ground and in the ocean, but research suggests kite-borne turbines could generate more power from steadier, faster high-altitude winds.


Adding wind turbines of any kind slows winds, and Marvel and her colleagues found that adding more than a certain amount of turbines would no longer generate more electricity. Still, their simulations suggest that at least 400 terawatts -- or 400 trillion watts of power -- could be generated from surface winds, and more than 1,800 terawatts could be extracted from winds throughout the atmosphere. In comparison, people globally currently use about 18 terawatts of power.


Simulating a century's worth of amped-up wind-energy production suggests that harvesting maximum power from these winds would have dramatic long-term effects on the climate, triggering major shifts in atmospheric circulation.


In contrast, extracting enough wind energy to satisfy current global power demands would only have minimal climate effects, as long as wind turbines were spread out. Doing so might affect surface temperatures by about 0.1 degree Celsius and affect average precipitation by about 1 percent.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Since the maximum amount of wind energy is over 100 times all of our current energy needs, it is easy to see that enough wind turbines to satisfy our relatively small needs would have minimal impact on the environment. 


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World Bank kicks coal, but will the rest of the world follow? : Renew Economy

World Bank kicks coal, but will the rest of the world follow? : Renew Economy | Zero Footprint |
The World Bank will cut coal from its portfolio of investment projects, another domino fallen for the fossil fuel industry.


New coal powered generation will now receive financial support only in “rare circumstances”. Gas will remain in the Bank’s investment mix but as a transitional fuel. But will this decision change anything?

The World Bank’s change in focus favouring renewable energy won’t have a great impact on the spending priorities in the near future because its last loan to a coal-fired plant was in 2010. Much larger will be the impact on other lending institutions. A reasonable expectation is that the decision to spurn coal will also permeate the domestic policies of countries continuing to build coal-fired power plants.

The International Energy Agency might also have been influential in the Bank’s change. The agency is emphasising the need to keep most coal in the ground to avoid catastrophic warming.

The three goals of the World Bank by 2030 are:


universal access to electricitydouble the rate of improvement in energy efficiencydouble the rate of uptake of renewable energy.

It is easy to fall into pessimism about the chances of timely transformation of world energy supplies. But the policy shift by the World Bank is another domino fallen. Greater appreciation of the risks of climate inaction, the successful application of renewables, combined with global knowledge transfer, will surely see many more dominoes go down in the near future.

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The giving tree: Agroforests can heal food systems and fight climate change

The giving tree: Agroforests can heal food systems and fight climate change | Zero Footprint |

Growing numbers of farmers are using agroforestry -- integrating tree crops and grazing animals -- to create more resilient soil, a diverse range of foods, and even fight climate change.


Shepard calls his approach “restoration agriculture” (that’s also the name of his recently published book), and his hope is to mimic nature as much as possible to produce high-quality crops while restoring the health and fertility of the land.


“There are two problems with agriculture — even organic agriculture,” said Shepard recently on the phone. “You are either trying to keep something alive that wants to die, or you are trying to kill something that wants to stay alive.”

Agroforestry — a broad term to describe ways in which forests and forest management are combined with agriculture — is key in understanding Shepard’s system.

Multi-species grazing on silvopasture — the intentional combination of livestock, forage, and trees on grass — now plays an essential part in the operation.

“We’ve generated numbers that show our system is capable of out-yielding corn by 30 percent on calories per acre,” says Shepard. “And as far as nutrition per acre, it’s off the charts. Then throw in the fact that the whole system is perennial — we don’t have any more planting costs, maintenance costs are minimal, no pest or disease control, no [fertilizer] inputs.”

Via Darin Hoagland
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Integrating with nature, rather than fighting it, is key to achieving the goal of Zero Footprint.

Darin Hoagland's curator insight, December 12, 2012 9:14 PM

Agroforestry, agroecology, integrated farming and permaculture all are exibited here in this article about Wendell Berry.  It is amazing how many mutually beneficial ecological interactions a farmer can get when all these things mentioned above - and more -- are being executed.

Darin Hoagland's comment, December 12, 2012 9:19 PM
The Wendell farm reminds me of Joel Salatin's famous Polyface farm. I think its the moveable foraging cages he uses for his pasture animals.
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Renewables Growing, But Struggling To Keep Pace | EarthTechling

Renewables Growing, But Struggling To Keep Pace | EarthTechling | Zero Footprint |

A new international energy outlook sees renewables growing quickly, but will it be fast enough to keep pace as India's and China's needs skyrocket?


“Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year; however, fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040,” the EIA said in a statement introducing its newly released International Energy Outlook 2013.


“Coal grows faster than liquid fuels consumption until after 2030, due to increases in China’s consumption of coal and tepid growth in liquid fuels demand attributed to (1) slow growth in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, and (2) high sustained oil prices,” the report said.


The other reason is natural gas, the fasted growing fossil fuel in this forecast. “Global natural gas consumption grows by 1.7 percent per year,” the EIA said, as “increasing supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane support growth in projected worldwide gas use.”


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I don't believe there is any necessary reason for the increasing use of coal and natural gas, but only economic choices made to continue using these non-renewable resources and continue emitting CO2 and methane into the atmosphere without paying the full cost of removing those emissions.  


In other words, the economic reason would not stand once it is exposed as a fraud, a theft of the commonwealth, a crime against humanity and all of nature.


Instead of investing any more in fossil fuels, we should invest the same amount or more in renewable energy, including more liquid biofuels to run transportation until electric vehicles replace the liquid fueled vehicles.

Daniel LaLiberte's comment, July 28, 2013 1:29 PM
ThinkProgress covered the same story with the headline: "Absent Climate Policies, Global Coal Use Will Soar In Coming Decades, EIA Report Says" -
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The Future of Renewable Energy: Quayle Hodek at TEDxMaui 2013

Quayle Hodek, CEO of asks "Am I doing enough?"


A billion and a half people don't have electricity, not even a light.


If you make the renewable energy system and light small enough, it could actually be cheaper than candles.  So now, every family, no matter how far from the grid, no matter how poor, could have light.


By mobilizing millions of communities around the globe to leapfrog directly to renewables, we can at least point the way towards the end of poverty, because there is no path to global properity that doesn't at its core involve access to clean, abundant, and affordable electricity for absolutely everyone.  I believe that is our greatest global challenge and our greatest opportunity over the next 10 years.


If we unite together as a global community, then we can create the properous, clean, and equitable future that we all desire and deserve.

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Global Power Shift: Phase 1 Report-Back

Global Power Shift is the starting point for a new phase in the international climate movement. 


Join as at In June, 2013, over 500 young leaders converged in Istanbul for Global Power Shift -- an unprecedented gathering designed to scale up the climate movement worldwide. Now it's time for Phase 2.

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Michael Pollan on Agriculture’s Role in Fighting Climate Change

Michael Pollan on Agriculture’s Role in Fighting Climate Change | Zero Footprint |

Now, instead of just exposing the faults of the industrial agricultural system, Pollan is suggesting radical new ways to make agriculture work for both people and the planet.


With the right kind of technology, Pollan believes that eating meat can actually be good for the planet. That’s right: Raising livestock, if done properly, can reduce global warming.


“Depending on how you farm, your farm is either sequestering or releasing carbon,” says Pollan. Currently, the vast majority of farms, in the United States and around the world, are releasing carbon—mainly through fertilizer and fossil fuel applications but also by plowing before planting. “As soon as you plow, you’re releasing carbon,” Pollan says, because exposing soil allows the carbon stored there to escape into the atmosphere.


... even if annual emissions of greenhouse gases drop to zero, global temperatures will keep rising and climate impacts keep intensifying for decades to come, thanks to the inertia of the climate system. The only way to possibly reduce impacts in the years ahead is to address what is fundamentally driving them: the 400 ppm of CO2 currently in the atmosphere.


“When you have a grassland, the plants living there convert the sun’s energy into leaf and root in roughly equal amounts. When the ruminant [e.g., a cow] comes along and grazes that grassland, it trims the height of the grass from, say, 3 feet tall to 3 inches tall. The plant responds to this change by seeking a new equilibrium: it kills off an amount of root mass equal to the amount of leaf and stem lost to grazing. The [discarded] root mass is then set upon by the nematodes, earthworms and other underground organisms, and they turn the carbon in the roots into soil. This is how all of the soil on earth has been created: from the bottom up, not the top down.”


The upshot, both for global climate policy and individual dietary choices, is that meat eating carries a big carbon footprint only when the meat comes from industrial agriculture. “If you’re eating grassland meat,” Pollan says, “your carbon footprint is light and possibly even negative.”


Pollan calls this approach “open source carbon sequestration.” He emphasizes that more research is needed to understand how best to apply it, but he is bullish on the prospects. Using photosynthesis and reformed grazing practices to extract atmospheric carbon and store it underground “gets us out of one of the worst aspects of environmental thinking—the zero sum idea that we can’t feed ourselves and save the planet at the same time,” says Pollan. “It also raises our spirits about the challenges ahead, which is not a small thing.”

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Can city farms feed a hungry world?

Can city farms feed a hungry world? | Zero Footprint |

There will be billions more hungry people in 2050. Growing our food on vertical farms or under radical new lighting systems may be key to ensuring they have enough to eat.


Mankind’s awareness of our food supplies has been heightened by massive crop failures due to millennial level floods, protracted droughts, and numerous food-borne disease outbreaks caused by microbes such as salmonella, E. coli strain 0157, toxoplasma and listeria. Consumers the world over now demand to know where their food comes from and how it is produced.


As a species, we need to know whether modern farming is sustainable and compatible with the rest of the natural world, or is it causing irreparable damage to the environment that will eventually turn today’s serious problem of today into a food crisis of epic proportions in the near future?


If trends in urbanisation continue at their current rates, cities could evolve into places where intolerable numbers of people may have to live, and who are forced to live well below the poverty limit, threatening to overwhelm sanitation systems and housing. Food and drinking water would be even scarcer than in many of today’s developing cities.


But this doesn’t have to happen. Most urban centres are experiencing a re-birth of their direct connections to agriculture. Within just the past 10 years, an increasing interest in city farming has been paralleled by the creation of the slow food and locallly sourced, or "locavore" movements, a foundation for the rise of urban farming initiatives.


Included in the mix of successful city-based agricultural projects are rooftop gardens, rooftop greenhouses (both low tech and hydroponic), above-ground planting beds, the use of empty lots as farmland, and vertical farms that occupy tall buildings and abandoned warehouses. Collectively, these examples show the validity of growing food in the city. Not only could be they be carried out efficiently – such as rooftop greenhouses giving much higher yields than outdoor farms – but they could also operate without the pollution associated with outdoor farming.


Urban agriculture has the potential to become so pervasive within our cities that by the year 2050 they may be able to provide its citizens with up to 50% of the food they consume. In doing so, ecosystems that were fragmented in favour of farmland could be allowed to regain most of their ecological functions, creating a much healthier planet for all creatures great and small. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The goal for producing enough food for the people living in urban areas should be 100%.  The same is true for renewable energy and recycling of all resources.  That way the urban areas can scale as large as needed to accommodate all the people living there.

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