Tag Archive: energy


Happy Earth Day!


Earth Day 2013 - Earth Day Network

Earth Day 2013 – Earth Day Network

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Credit: Linda Schumacher

I’ve got two articles to share today about food waste from both sides of the Atlantic. Over in the Land of the Free™, a new paper released by the environmental action group, National Resource Defense Council,  examines the American food system that wastes 40% of all food in the country — equal to $165 billion a year. There’s a nod to some recent efforts in Europe to identify the causes and possible solutions, but the older republics have significant food waste, too. Some excerpts:

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. [A]lmost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

Nutrition is also lost in the mix — food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.…The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. This means there was once a time when we wasted far less, and we can get back there again. Doing so will ultimately require a suite of coordinated solutions, including changes in supply-chain operation, enhanced market incentives, increased public awareness and adjustments in consumer behavior.

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Credit: Overpopulation by VESAPELTONEN at deviantArt

This is from a summary via the blog wmtc (we move to canada) about the book Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis by Ian Angus and Simon Butler. The authors examine the arguments behind the notion that overpopulation is the leading factor of environmental degradation, addressing issues of reproductive freedom, food shortages, immigration, lifestyle choices, and other related topics. I haven’t read the book, but from this summary, it looks like good, thought-provoking read. Read the full article here and buy the book if you’re so inclined. For a countering viewpoint, check out this post from Enough of Us—C&C

 

Throughout the history of the modern environmental movement, there has always been a school of thought that the central problem (or at least one huge part of the problem) is overpopulation. Under this view, in order to preserve natural resources, we must slow global human population growth.

Historically and today, this involves changing reproductive patterns in developing or third-world nations, here called the global south. In short, women in the global south must have fewer babies, for the sake of the survival of the planet.[…] The more people who live on the planet, the more CO2 emissions there are. That’s easy to show. The correlation between population growth and emissions growth seems obvious. On further inspection, though, the link proves to be illusory.

Consider the facts:

  • Between 1980 and 2005, Sub-Saharan Africa had 18.5% of the world’s population growth, and accounted for just 2.4% of growth in emissions.
  • During that period, the US had 3.4% of the world’s population growth, and 12.6% of the growth in emissions.[…]

The “per capita” problem

A country’s emissions are often expressed per capita – the total emissions from that country divided by its total population. But per capita figures are a convenient way to make any social problem appear to be an individual problem.

[But consider if] half the population of Canada suddenly disappeared, my per capita share of emissions, and that of very other remaining Canadian would increase dramatically overnight, without any change being made in my – or anyone else’s – personal levels of carbon consumption. The population fetishists would realize their fondest wish (a dramatic reduction in population levels) while the per capita emissions levels would soar!

[B]laming individual choice for the environmental crisis ignores gross income equality within the global north. Poverty is rampant. Millions of people are struggling to eat and keep a roof over their family’s heads. When we hear and read about how much Americans (Canadians, Australians, etc.) consume, we generally hear averages. But in the US, the wealthiest 20% of the population receives and spend 60% of all income. The average means very little.

 

Read the full article at wmtc: what i’m reading / marxism 2012 program notes: “too many people?” population, immigration, and the environment.


Green Uncle Sam

The Fourth of July is a great time to get some sun, have a little fun and forget about the daily grind as we celebrate our nations birthday. But just because its an excuse to party hardy, we shouldnt forget that keeping things green and protecting our environment over the holiday is just as important as making the perfect apple pie or lighting up the barbecue. With this in mind, weve rounded up seven ways you can add a little bit of green to your patriotic party and still have plenty of fun – read on!

Via 7 Tips for a Red, White and GREEN Fourth of July! | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

OK, it’s obvious that I’m reposting this purely because I’m too lazy to find or write a decent article about sustainability and the U.S. 4th of July holiday. Buy this overpriced compostable picnic set instead of styrofoam! (Because plain old paper plates are too passé). Help the earth “breathe easier” by burning less-dirty fuel in the grill! Clean up the mess you make after you party! Yes, these are some of the tips this blog post from Inhabitat offers to the green-curious.

YUMMY!

On the other hand, I mightily approve of this photo gallery of 6 (not 8) BBQ recipes for summer.


energy-generating paver

What if you could charge your cell phone (or power your home) by dancing?

Well, you actually can.

A London-based company called Pavegen has created a tile (or energy-generating paver, is how I’m guessing the company name came to be) that creates and stores energy by simply walking (or dancing) on it.

The company deployed a 6-tile array of their tiles at a UK music festival and charged over 1100 mobile phones in one weekend, just by dancing.

The pavers (or tiles) could be placed in high-traffic areas such as train stations, malls, office buildings, and the like to power nearby lights, electronic signs, and more.

As a matter of fact, Pavegen tiles will be installed at a mall near the site of this summer’s London Olympics that will create enough energy to power half of the malls’ outdoor lights.

Check out the video for more info on how the Pavegen tiles work at Eco-Snobbery Sucks.


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, otherwise known as Rio+20, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Over 135 heads of state and government and up to 50,000 participants, including business executives and civil society representatives, will be present when the conference opens on Jun. 20. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls it “one of the most important conferences in U.N. history”.

Make no mistake, the world is watching. With today’s unprecedented interdependence, sustainable development is the only way to address the inter-locking economic, social and environmental challenges that confront billions of people, and threaten our shared planet.[…]

In today’s world, what happens on one side of the globe can easily reverberate on the other. Living on borrowed time and consuming resources as if there were five planets, we can no longer afford a business-as-usual attitude. 

Rio+20 is not “just another U.N. conference”. So why is the United Nations convening this conference? It is not about enforcing rules or regulations at the cost of quality of life, but rather to encourage and facilitate better, wiser choices by individuals, local communities, businesses and governments. 

Read the full article at OP-ED: Rio+20 is Everyone’s Conference – IPS ipsnews.net.

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