Sustainability Science
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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
Curated by PIRatE Lab
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Wind Power Rivals Coal With $1 Billion Order From Buffett

Wind Power Rivals Coal With $1 Billion Order From Buffett | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The decision by Warren Buffett’s utility company to order about $1 billion of wind turbines for projects in Iowa shows how a drop in equipment costs is making renewable energy more competitive with power from fossil fuels.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Cheaper wind turbine costs.

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Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Across the country, home buyers are embracing subdivisions that make farms a central amenity.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Awesome!  I love the idea of structuring subdivisions around food systems rather than golf courses!

 

I am curoius to see if these folks can turn a profit.  So far the indicatons are good if all their home lots sold out within a day of the offering.

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Washing Hands in Hot Water Wastes Energy, Study Says

Washing Hands in Hot Water Wastes Energy, Study Says | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The United States wastes energy equal to the fuel demand of Barbados on a practice with no proven health benefit: washing hands in hot water rather than cool, a study says.

Via SustainOurEarth
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California Resources Agency - Climate Adaptation

California Resources Agency - Climate Adaptation | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The California Natural Resources Agency invites you to submit comments on the DRAFT Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk-an update to the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy. Comments can be submitted in person at public workshops (January 22, 2014 in Sacramento or on January 27, 2014 in San Francisco), electronically to safeguarding@resources.ca.gov, or via regular mail.   Please submit all suggestions by February 28, 2014.

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Justices may back EPA on air pollution rule

Justices may back EPA on air pollution rule | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Supreme Court may salvage a federal rule regulating cross-state air pollution.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Oral arguments were held Tuesday to determine the legality of a rule that regulates air pollution crossing state lines. Before the U.S. Supreme Court was the issue of whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority by designing state limits for air pollution when it developed theCross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was intended to take effect in January 2012. In particular, the court considered whether the EPA’s determinations of upwind states’ “significant contributions” to air pollution in downwind states were consistent with the language of the Clean Air Act (CAA). In August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule, which required 28 upwind states in the South and Midwest to cut ozone and fine particle emissions, primarily from power plants.

 

Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart likened the EPA’s situation to that of a basketball coach answering a question about whether the missed layup or missed desperation shot at the buzzer “contributed significantly” to the loss of a game. Under the CAA, he said, the EPA has to decide which of the states that transported pollution across a border “contributed significantly” to a neighboring state’s inability to satisfy a federal clean air standard.

 

Revival of CSAPR may be in the offing, the Associated Press suggested. “It’s certainly hard,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the task of allocating responsibility, “but it is what the [Clean Air Act] statute says, and it seems to me that if EPA had taken a different view, it would have been contrary to the statute.” The National Journal, however, saw no clear indication of which direction the justices were leaning. A tie vote, the Washington Post reports, would leave the earlier ruling in place and send the EPA back to the drawing board.

 

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) was also before the court Tuesday. The MATS rule, which aims to reduce mercury and other air toxics from the country’s coal- and oil-fired power plants, also faced challenges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this week. Industry groups have claimed the agency’s rulemaking process was “substantively and procedurally flawed.”

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China's state media under fire for arguing the benefits of smog

China's state media under fire for arguing the benefits of smog | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Two Chinese state media outlets are under fire for releasing a list of "surprising benefits" of smog that include making you smarter and funnier.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Apparent the Chinese think smog makes those choking in it more knowledgeable, funnier, better aware and more unified, as well as "unifying the Chinese people" and cloaking China's military systems from spying foreign eyes.

 

These claims quickly raised eyebrows among those with firsthand experience of China's record-breaking air pollution (or did it? I can't quite see their faces through all the solidifying air). Other newspapers, even other state-run ones, roundly denounced the claims, with one editorial lamenting that the fact-free reports left people unsure "whether to laugh or cry." 

 

This reminds me of a joke. Two Chinese dudes walk into a bar...to ber able to breathe!

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Business no longer sees red over being green

Business no longer sees red over being green | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
There have been many disagreements, even monumental clashes, over the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the environmental Superfund legislation, among other initiatives.
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Small-house movement: Living in 120 square feet

Small-house movement: Living in 120 square feet | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Hopping into a waist-high metal bathtub smaller than a shower stall, Shafer swung a faucet over his head to demonstrate how one bathes in the combination tub/shower/sink.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Microhousing.

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Getting Sustainability Assessment Right

Getting Sustainability Assessment Right | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
When we want to know how sustainable any specific product really is, where do we collect accurate and insightful information?
PIRatE Lab's insight:

General intro to LCA for those new to thinking about life cycles.

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A Sustainable Dialogue: Toxic waste 'major global threat'

A Sustainable Dialogue: Toxic waste 'major global threat' | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

More than 200 million people around the world are at risk of exposure to toxic waste, a report has concluded. The authors say the large number of people at risk places toxic waste in a similar league to public health threats such as malaria and tuberculosis. The study from the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross calls for greater efforts to be made to control the problem. The study carried out in more than 3,000 sites in over 49 countries.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

Ummm...okay.  I agree we have some good candidates for places so polluted you don't want to live there.  But the bigger issue is outright ecosytem destruction/fragmentation and overharvesting of non-renewable resources.

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Infographic: What is natural capital?

Infographic:  What is natural capital? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Valuing nature may be complex but it could prove vital for future wellbeing and economic development

This infographic illustrates the economic benefits of wood compared to those that are gained from trees.


Via Lauren Moss
PIRatE Lab's insight:

These concepts be best encapsulated by the phrase "ecosystem services."

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Bhopkins's curator insight, October 28, 2013 12:38 PM

The value of trees as natural capital compared to trees as wood.

Alison D. Gilbert's curator insight, November 9, 2013 3:52 PM

The value of wood versus trees. Seems we have things backwards.

Peter Fagerström's curator insight, December 14, 2013 5:33 AM

The wood part is overly simplified but the point is valid.

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Stuff Gadget Awards 2013: The Philips Hue + Ambilight is our Home Gadget of the Year | Stuff

Stuff Gadget Awards 2013: The Philips Hue + Ambilight is our Home Gadget of the Year | Stuff | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Philips' Wi-Fi enabled Hue lightbulbs have been casting coloured mood lighting around our houses since their launch – and it didn't take long for some bright spark to think, "What if we paired up the Hue lights with our Ambilight TV?" Now you can extend the soothing glow of your Ambilight tellybox out across an entire room, with your Hue lights picking up on the ambient colours shown on the screen. A real lightbulb moment.


Via Dean Ernst
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Earth's atmosphere to take beating at World Cup

The World Cup may be great for planet soccer, but it isn't so good for planet Earth.

FIFA says the 2014 tournament, which will require huge amounts of air travel to venues across Brazil, will produce the equivalent of 2.72 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

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Even An 85 MPH Highway Can't Fix Austin's Traffic Tangle

Even An 85 MPH Highway Can't Fix Austin's Traffic Tangle | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A toll road was built east of the Texas capital to address its traffic woes, but few drivers use it.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Changes in behavior and a massive non-single driver car-based culture is the only hope for "keeping Austin weird."

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Waterless World: China’s ever-expanding desert wasteland

Waterless World: China’s ever-expanding desert wasteland | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
As climate change makes vast parts of Inner Mongolia uninhabitable, an official declares: ‘Land desertification is China’s most important ecological problem.’
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Great story and graphic video demonstration of one compenent of climate change.

 

I still find it amazing this lack of will amongst most scientists in China  when it comes to criticizing Chinese policies.  This may be something of a misquote, but my experience shows it may well not be:

 

"Our biggest concern today is not man-made problems, it is climate change and water resources"  Excuse me???  Climate change and you overdrafting of water supplies ARE FUNDAMENTALLY a "man-made" problem.  We have all seen the consequence of such incorrect phrasing and articulation.  We are creating this mess.  I would hope we could be mature enough to own up to the problem and face it head on.

 

This story also does a good job of putting yet another face of the greatest victims of climate change; the poor who eek out a living in marginal environs.

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NOAA Report Provides a Snapshot of U.S. Marine Protected Areas

NOAA Report Provides a Snapshot of U.S. Marine Protected Areas | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center recently released a new report on the state of MPAs in the United States.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Overview of U.S. MPAs

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Marauders Are Overwhelming Beaches in Rio as Brazil Takes a Dangerous Turn

Marauders Are Overwhelming Beaches in Rio as Brazil Takes a Dangerous Turn | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The return of violent mobs to Rio's most populated beaches is a sign of what's to come. And none of it's good.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The beaches of Rio have long been a place where tourists and the well off could be relatively confidant that the poor would not show up (or at least not do so visibly on the highest "rent" locales).  This appearrs to be changing and falling back into some of the anarchy and in-your-face inequality that has in recent years been motly confined to the hillside slums.  

 

It is clear from my travels and work over the past many years that inequality and corruption must be solved and justly addressed before any true semblance of effective management can be brought to bear across any particular segment of the coastal zone. 

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U.S. Solar Market Insight Report (Q3 2013)

United States Poised to Top Germany in Solar Installations

PIRatE Lab's insight:

As the International Energy Agency signals higher than previously forecast global oil demand in 2014, this new report indicates that total installed solar power grew 35 percent in 2013 compared with last year in the United States. Developers are on pace to nearly double the 930 megawatts of photovoltaic solar installed in the third quarter—the second-largest quarter for solar installations in U.S. history. States leading installations this quarter included California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Nevada.

 

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s report predicts U.S. solar capacity could rise 27 percent by the end of the fourth quarter, putting the United States ahead of Germany for the first time in 15 years.

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FDA to phase out non-medical antibiotic use by farms

FDA to phase out non-medical antibiotic use by farms | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
In a major shift of national food policy, the Food and Drug Administration is phasing out the non-medical use of antibiotics on farm animals in an effort to combat growing human resistance to the crucial drugs.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Fantastic.  The only question iswhy has this taken so long?

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Bill Palladino - MLUI's curator insight, December 12, 2013 6:17 AM

This story sounds almost too good, and too logical, to be true.

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CA oil: the Monterey Shale's high-profile skeptics

CA oil: the Monterey Shale's high-profile skeptics | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
To hear the oil industry tell it, California stands poised for an economic boom. Development of the Monterey Shale, a vast geologic formation that could hold 15.4 billion barrels of oil, will flood...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Yes. There has been much too much hype here and little evidence of mobilization in practice.

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Megatons To Megawatts: Russian Warheads Fuel U.S. Power Plants

Megatons To Megawatts: Russian Warheads Fuel U.S. Power Plants | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
After the Cold War, Russia converted surplus uranium to nuclear fuel for power plants — in the U.S.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

While there are significant issues/downsides to nuclear power, clearly using nuclear weapons for power generation is nothing but a positive.

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800,000 people ‘lifted’ out of fuel poverty – by redefining it

800,000 people ‘lifted’ out of fuel poverty – by redefining it | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Government is attempting to manipulate official figures to bring down fuel poverty, it is claimed today.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Lame...

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Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon

Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
More than two dozen major American corporations are preparing to pay climate-related taxes, departing from conservative orthodoxy and exposing divisions between the Republican Party and its business supporters.
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Canyon Lights: Christmas Lighting in a Rainforest | Philips Lighting

Canyon Lights: Christmas Lighting in a Rainforest | Philips Lighting | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Continuing my quest to show you some of the most magnificent, unusual and fun Christmas lighting in the world, today I am taking you off the beaten path into the Rainforest of Canada’s Pacific coast. If you enjoy reveling in nature, exploring the illuminated beauty of Capilano Suspended Bridge Park, one of BRITISH COLUMBIA’s unconventional gems during the holiday season will definitely appeal to you.


Via Dean Ernst
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Awesome LED Xmas light!

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Lighted LED Carpet May Light the Way to the Future - Or the Bathroom

Lighted LED Carpet May Light the Way to the Future - Or the Bathroom | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Can't find your way to the bathroom in your new office complex? No worries. Lighted LED carpet will do it for you -- light emitting carpet; yes, it's true.

Via Dean Ernst
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