.

Ever volatile fuel prices, security of supply, renewable energy cost reductions and environmental-climate concerns are dramatically accelerating the demand for greener alternatives.

It has become a global imperative that we break our addiction to fossil fuels. Providing for the ever increasing energy and transportation needs of the planet is going to take a wide range of alternative energy sources, cleaner fuels, the smart grid and advanced storage solutions.

These technologies are finally establishing themselves in the energy mix and becoming mainstream .....an emerging multi trillion dollar market rapidly becoming one of the most significant industrial sectors this century. The future is bright for renewable energy sources and a greener sustainable world.

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Toward a greener economy

17 10 08 - 14:55 Toward a greener economy




By Moises Velasquez-Manoff





New York - Market bubbles occur when goods are traded at prices that greatly exceed real value. They burst when they grow so bloated that they become unstable. The current economic turmoil, widely viewed as the worst since 1929, is one example of what can happen when the difference between market value and actual value becomes too great.

Environmentally minded economists have long warned that equally burstable ecological bubbles can occur if humanity lives beyond earth's capacity to regenerate. The problem, they say, is that we're addicted to economic growth. Mainstream economics assumes that the economy, the engine of modern civilization, can grow perpetually. If growth means ever-increasing consumption of natural resources (and it has, since the start of the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago), then it can't continue indefinitely. Earth and its resources are finite.

Herman Daly, an economist at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy in College Park, says that humanity is already at or beyond the point where economic growth is counterproductive, where the environmental and social costs more than cancel the gains.

"So-called 'economic' growth already has become uneconomic," Professor Daly stated in a talk last spring. "The growth economy is failing."

For some time, Daly and others have called for a rethinking and restructuring of our economy before nature restructures it for us. The notion of perpetual economic growth warrants scrutiny before it drives us over a cliff, they argue. The science of economics must be overhauled to better account for earth's physical realities. Civilization won’t have to stop in its tracks, just shift emphasis, says Daly. The "steady state economy" he foresees emphasizes qualitative development over quantitative growth. "Growth is more of the same stuff," he says. "Development is the same amount of better stuff."

In his 2000 book, "Something New Under the Sun," John McNeill, professor of environmental history at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., tells how unprecedented the past two centuries of human history have been.

"Most economists are under the impression that 2 to 6 percent annual growth is a normal condition for human society," says Professor McNeill. "A longer historical view would tell you such growth is a peculiar period in human society."

Growth unprecedented in history

For the vast majority of human history, stasis was the norm. After AD 1, it took the human population 1,500 years to double in size to between 400 million and 500 million. But since 1820, population has increased more than sixfold, to 6.6 billion. That's an incredible achievement for a species that, at the beginning of the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, was outnumbered by baboons, writes McNeill.

In the past 200 fossil-fueled years, the per capita growth of the gross world product (the total market value of goods and services) has far outstripped population increase. People are richer and live longer. But no one should overlook the cost, says McNeill. In that period - and especially during the 20th century - humankind has transformed the earth.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, English demographer Thomas Malthus foresaw problems with growth. If populations grew while resources remained constant - the tendency, he thought - there would be less for each person. Most people would end up poorer and more miserable.

That generally hasn't occurred. On average, people are much richer. (In absolute terms, about the same number of people are poor today - 800 million - as in Malthus's time.) Malthus failed to account for innovation and technology, which have let humanity squeeze more and more from the same quantity.

Or is it just 'the new Malthusianism'?

For this reason, Pat Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., a libertarian think tank, dismisses any talk of the need for sustainable development as "the new Malthusianism." The market will self-correct, he says. When materials become scarce, prices will go up. Consumption will drop. That will spur innovators to develop alternatives. It is this very dynamism that makes modern societies sustainable. "In reality, the development that we have is, ipso facto, sustainable," he says.

Peter Victor, an economist at York University in Toronto and author of the forthcoming book "Managing Without Growth," has a slightly different view. Yes, innovation theoretically could keep the economy humming along forever, he says. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened.

"The pace at which we've become more efficient hasn't kept pace with the rate of growth," Professor Victor says. For example, prices for raw materials have gone down even as the environment has become increasingly degraded. This suggests a flaw in market pricing.

"We would have thought that the price system would have given us a signal that we were doing this," Victor says. "And it's not giving us that signal."

This is a recurring complaint among environmental economists: The science of economics often treats economies as if they exist in a vacuum. Environmental costs - greenhouse gases, waste, overfishing - are rarely reflected in market prices.

That was fine in times past, when a large margin separated the edges of the human sphere from the limits of earth's biosphere, says Robert Costanza, director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, Burlington. But now the margin is much slimmer - perhaps totally gone - and omitting the true cost has become a liability.

"When the markets get out of kilter with reality, that's what causes bubbles," Professor Costanza says. He doesn't advocate squelching the market, but guiding it - and not being guided by it: "The market is a good servant, but it's a poor master."

Ecological economists say we can start by examining economic yardsticks like Gross Domestic Product. GDP counts oil spills and other calamities that cost money to fix as additions, or positives. GDP has no way of counting important things like growth of leisure time or the contributions of stay-at-home parents.

"You get what you measure," says Jim Barrett, executive director of the nonprofit Redefining Progress in Washington, D.C., which has developed an alternate Genuine Progress Indicator. "And we don't measure things that matter."

Shift tax from income to raw materials

Daly, a former senior economist in the World Bank's Environmental Department, has other recommendations. Scarce resources should be taxed at the point of extraction. Cap-and-trade systems should tax waste returning to the environment. Reduce personal income taxes to keep the overall tax burden the same. As Costanza says, "Tax bads rather than goods."

These structures will drive the economy in the direction of frugality, which begets efficiency, says Daly. The economy's emphasis will shift from production to service and maintenance, from "more and more" stuff to the same amount of ever-better stuff. In such an economy, companies would probably shift from selling products to leasing them. He points to Interface Inc., in Atlanta, a "closed loop" company that leases out carpeting and then gathers it for recycling when it wears out.

"We can't live without polluting and depleting," says Daly, "but it's a question of keeping it within the limits of the biosphere."

To this list Costanza adds the creation of new institutions to manage property owned by all, like air and sea.

"We need to develop new institutions that own global commons like the atmosphere," says Costanza. "Right now, nobody owns the atmosphere, so dumping whatever you want into it is OK." Used tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Most actors invest their time and efforts poorly.
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Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?

Saturday 16 July 2011 at 06:07 am Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?


By Pete Spotts


The images are stark: soot-grimed firefighters steering bulldozers or wielding shovels to clear underbrush; curtains of orange flame tracing the contours of summits; aircraft dumping chemicals to slow a fire's progress.

Between Jan. 1 and early July of 2011, slightly more than 38,000 wildfires charred the landscape in the United States at a record pace. So far this year, wildfires have consumed just under 4.9 million acres of forest and grassland, a cumulative expanse the size of New Jersey.

That's 1 million more acres than fires consumed during the same period in 2006, which saw a record 9.9 million acres burned for the entire year.

Beyond the numbers, this year's fires may provide the first large-scale tests of the effectiveness of projects undertaken over the past decade to help forests survive wildfires, several specialists say.

The West's forests are adapted to deal with certain types of wildfires, researchers note. But since the mid-1980s, they add, some of these forests have experienced an increasing number of fires to which they are not well adapted.

Many researchers trace this shift in part to climate change. more

Hybrid Moves Into Housing

Sunday 22 May 2011 at 01:14 am Hybrid Moves Into Housing


By Brenda Krueger Huffman

(Chicago) – Recycling - Check. Conserving energy - Check. Hybrid car - Next car, check. Hybrid home system - What? Yes, it’s here. Hybrid has seamlessly, successfully moved into housing.

Safety Power, Inc. was initially started to provide homes with back up power. The company quickly grew to include renewable energy options and advising commercial and industrial clients with electrical conservation. Recently the company has come full circle and began marketing a new more capable type of renewable energy system for homes.

The award winning firm was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” and continues to grow its residential client base in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Safety Power also serves larger firms on the national level.

Robert Brazzale, President of Safety Power, a master electrician turned entrepreneur, began Safety Power in 2007. An avid member of Local First Chicago, Rob believes in assisting sustaining local economies with green collar jobs and belongs to many green orientated groups in Chicago and around the country. more

Are electric car makers missing the trick?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 11:12 am Are electric car makers missing the trick?


by Martin Ott

I believe that electric car makers may be driving us all down the road that may result in the same sort of technology failures that we have seen in the past.
I'm not referring to the Sinclair scooter here but cast your mind back to the débâcle of Betamax v VHS home recording systems. The eventual winner was the technically inferior VHS but the battle was not resolved until innumerable consumers had paid out for worthless Betamax systems. Back in the 70's a similar conflict occurred over audio systems when America fell in love with the 8 track tape system that moved magnetic tape in a loop over the player head at a high speed resulting in a better sound. The world market finally dictated that the audio cassette was the way to go but not until millions of consumers had been lumbered with home and in-car systems that went down the technological cul de sac. more

Wind Turbine Manufacturer Acknowledges SGS´s Contribution towards Successful Project Completion

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:57 am by Suresh Varma

The Theni Wind Farm project was developed by CLP India Pvt. Ltd., one of the major wind farm project developers in India. Located in the south western part of Tamilnadu, a southern state of the country, the facility consists of 60 Vestas V82 geared wind turbines. As recognition of its contribution towards the successful execution of this wind power project SGS received Vestas award.

Each turbine at the wind farm has a capacity of 1.65 MW IEC Class IIB machine with a blade diameter of 82 m. After a six-month long completion period, the Theni Wind Farm was officially opened in May, 2010.

Acting as contract engineer during project execution, SGS was responsible for ensuring that all activities were carried out at the site by the contractor in line with the final agreement. In doing so, SGS supervised the quality of construction works, the fulfillment of the technical parameters and kept the project within the scheduled time and contracted price. more

E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:37 am E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

by Power Plus Communications

Mannheim - Power Plus Communications AG (PPC), the leading provider of Broadband Powerline Communication systems (BPL) for smart grids has taken on a key role within an E.ON smart grid project to facilitate an extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution.

E.ON Westfalen Weser AG is currently trialing smart grid technology within its network of 1.3 million inhabitants and PPC's proven medium voltage BPL solution has connected substations in the project using the existing power grid.

Using BPL technology, standard compliant and IP-based data transfer rates of 5-30 Mbit/s can easily be achieved via the medium voltage cable itself. Within E.ON’s smart grid project, PPC's medium voltage technology facilitated the extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution. The Cisco smart grid Router and Switches used in the project are highly compatible with BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optic networks – which can be much more expensive where cables are not pre-existing.

By combining their technology at Westfalen Weser, PPC and Cisco have ensured the evolution of fast and efficient smart grids which are controlled on an IP basis. This increases the reliability of the power grid, fulfills regulations and drives down costs. At the same time this modern smart grids communications technology makes it possible to effectively integrate renewable energy into the grid. more

MIT Infrastructure "Life Cycle" Study is Progress Both Left & Right Can Embrace - Part 2, Fiscal Responsibility

Saturday 19 February 2011 at 09:02 am By Brenda Krueger Huffman


Chicago – Perhaps moving to the center is where we all need to be politically on the environment and effective spending compatibility. Not all green technology is crazy, and not all business profit or government expenditure is evil.

Even if you do not believe in man caused climate change, we can all agree leaving a cleaner planet and a more fiscally responsible government for the next generation is preferable to not doing so.

Perhaps green technology can be cost effective, and government fiscal responsibility may realistically include affordable green initiatives. Honest “life cycle analysis” and “life cycle cost analysis” study considerations should be a political compromise starting point both the left and the right can embrace. more

Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 11:05 am Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

By Pete Spotts


Washington - A long-term retreat in snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere is weakening the ability of these seasonal cloaks of white to reflect sunlight back into space and cool global climate, according to a study published this week.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the cooling effect from this so-called cryosphere – essentially areas covered by snow and ice at least part of the year – appears to have weakened at more than twice the pace projected by global climate models, the research team conducting the work estimates.

The study, which appeared online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, represents a first cut at trying to calculate from direct measurements the impact of climate change on the Northern Hemisphere's cryosphere. The study was conducted by a team of federal and university scientists who examined data gathered between 1979 and 2008. more

EPA presents plan on greenhouse gases

Wednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38 pm By Mark Clayton


Washington - Setting the stage for a New Year battle royal between Congress and the White House over greenhouse gas emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency Thursday laid out a timetable for the nation's largest carbon emitters – power plants and refineries – to begin curbing those pollutants.

Republicans have said all year that they plan to pull out all the stops to keep the EPA from phasing in greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations beginning in 2011, saying they would damage the energy industry, raise prices, and cost jobs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he opposes the regulations on greenhouse gases and indicated he would lead efforts to revoke EPA regulations in the next Congress. The new regulations, he says, will likely lead to the shut down of coal-fired power plants.

"To protect jobs and fortify our energy security, we should be working to bring more power online, not shutting plants down," Mr. Upton said in a statement. "We are woefully unprepared to meet our nation's growing energy demands, yet this administration's 'none of the above' energy policy will do nothing but cost jobs, make energy more expensive, and increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Environmentalists lauded the EPA's move. more

Supreme Court takes global warming case that targets power companies

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:21 am By Warren Richey,


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit - filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts - targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a "public nuisance." It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants' greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years. more

Outside Cancun climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:09 am By Ezra Fieser,


Bayahibe, Dominican Republic - This summer's extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States.

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

If diplomats attending the two-week global climate change talks that opened Monday in Cancun, Mexico, want more evidence of the negative and potentially devastating affects of warming temperatures, they need look no further than the blue sea outside their hotels. Researchers say that throughout the Caribbean coral reefs are "bleaching," a condition that occurs when they are under extreme stress due to warmer-than-normal sea temperatures. more