Showing posts with label forecast earth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forecast earth. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2009

E-Waste: Dark Side of Digital Age

These days, it's often cheaper and more convenient to buy a new PC than to upgrade an old one. But what happens to those old computers once they've been abandoned for newer models?

The refuse from discarded electronics products, also known as e-waste, often ends up in landfills or incinerators instead of being recycled. And that means toxic substances like lead, cadmium and

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Solar Dream from Israeli Kibbutzim

A promise of double-digit returns nowadays might seem like just another Ponzi scheme to investors. But a group of solar energy fans from a kibbutz, or collective, in southern Israel believes it can offer just that, by using government backing to turn farmland into photovoltaic fields. With water an increasingly scarce commodity in Israel—and both sun and land in abundance—the band of new-age socialists envisages turning the desert into a vast solar power plant. The first 5-megawatt field at Kibbutz Ketura is expected to be up and running by early next year.

"Within five years we'll have 200 megawatts of photovoltaic fields on more than a dozen kibbutzim in southern Israel," predicts Yosef Abramowitz, president and founder of Arava Power Co. Under a recently announced Israeli government subsidy for electricity produced by solar power plants, that translates into $110 million in revenues. The money would go directly to the kibbutzim and a group of mostly American investors in Israel's first green energy utility.

The subsidy is part of a government initiative approved last month to produce at least 10% of Israel's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Another recent decision requires the government-controlled Israel Electric Corp. to purchase electricity generated by renewable energy producers under 20-year contracts—a way of ensuring long-term demand and price stability, and thus encouraging investment.

"Southern Israel boasts some of the best solar conditions in the world, and the proximity to the grid makes the venture even more attractive," says Amit Mor, chief executive of Eco-Energy, an Israeli energy consulting firm. Despite its ideal climatic conditions, the Jewish state was until recently slow to jump on the solar electricity bandwagon. This is true even though Israelis for decades have gotten most of their hot water from rooftop solar water systems, not to mention that Israel is home to several cutting-edge solar energy companies including Solel Solar Systems and richly funded BrightSource Energy, which is also working in Southern California's Mojave Desert.

Now, for strategic reasons, Israel is more interested than ever in weaning itself off dependence on traditional fuel sources. Indeed, the country's Defense Ministry is becoming a proponent of alternative energy partly because the recent military operations in Gaza underscored the vulnerability of Israel's large power plants, two of which were in range of Hamas rockets. The military has expressed particular interest in solar power as a means of making electricity production more secure.

Abramowitz founded Arava Power three years ago after immigrating to Israel and settling in Ketura, situated 30 miles north of Eilat. The recent sharp drop in oil prices isn't apparently a major concern: When the 44-year-old Boston native got started in 2006, oil was at $40 a barrel, just about where it is today. "The volatility of oil prices in the past few years only underscores the need for a country like Israel to sharply reduce its dependency on fossil fuel," Abramowitz says.

The most convincing argument for the 600 members of Ketura was that solar energy could be far more profitable than growing fruits and vegetables—a traditional primary source of income for most of the kibbutzim in the region.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Five Ways to Fix the Future of Water

Rather than trying to solve the water shortage through conservation, some radical entrepreneurs are doing something ingenious -- making more of it.

By Doug Cantor

Please read;

Monday, February 4, 2008

Teachers teaching Green

Hundreds of profs in many disciplines hold green 'teach-in' to encourage environmental actionCollege campuses: Hundreds of professors hold “green” teach-in

By JULIA SILVERMAN Associated Press WriterFriday, February 1, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Global warming issues took over lecture halls in colleges across the country Thursday, with more than 1,500 universities participating in what was billed as the nation's largest-ever "teach-in."

Organizers said the goal of the event, dubbed "Focus the Nation," was to move past preaching to the green choir, to reach a captive audience of students in many fields who might not otherwise tune in to climate change issues.

Faculty members from a wide spectrum of disciplines — from chemistry to costume design — agreed to incorporate climate change issues into their lectures on Thursday. Community colleges and some high schools also took part.

"It's about infusing sustainability into the curriculum of higher education, so students can graduate prepared to deal with the world they have been handed," said Lindsey Clark, 23, who organized events at the University of Utah.

The day's activities were the brainchild of Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland who authored a widely used collegiate textbook on economics and the environment. Major funding came from Nike, Clif Bar and Stonyfield Farms, among other companies and foundations.

Goodstein, who has spent years training people to speak on climate change, said he issued a call to arms to fellow professors across the country a few years ago, as his certainty grew that time was running out to address global warming.

Some participating professors said the climate change issue already had been woven into their syllabus, in areas as disparate as philosophy and urban planning.

"For my students, three years ago, it felt like I was shoving this down people's throats. Now it feels mainstream," said Jane Nichols, who teaches interior design at Western Carolina University. "Students don't want their future clients to know more than they do."
Nichols said global warming is relevant to interior design because a designer's choice of materials has environmental implications. Bamboo floors and furnishings, for example, are more environmentally sustainable than old-growth wood, she said.

Other schools held panel discussions with political luminaries, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who participated via video satellite at the University of Nevada's campuses in Las Vegas and Reno.

A few schools took the concept beyond the classroom. At Lewis & Clark, student actors portrayed presidential candidates for a mock debate on climate change issues, with the Hillary Rodham Clinton character stressing the need for "green collar" workers and the John McCain figure echoing the candidate's calls for a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions.
Glendale Community College in Arizona and the University of Kentucky have been serving "low carbon" meals all week. Organizers at New York's Fordham University put up a mock wind farm to show people that "solutions are close at hand," said philosophy professor Jude Jones.
Western Carolina University hosted a recycled fashion show. And at the University of California at San Diego, a student dressed as a polar bear sat in a mock electric chair to illustrate how climate change could erase the species' habitat.

Goodstein said the event comes at a crossroads for those involved in the climate change movement: There's less debate over whether global warming is happening, but many people have the sense that it's too late to change course.

"If you go back to 1960, most Americans felt that segregation was wrong, but they were fatalistic about it," Goodstein said. "But now, 40 years later, Barack Obama is a serious contender for the presidency. And 40 years from now, when our young people have finished the job of rewiring the planet, they will look back and say that 2008 was the year Americans woke up."

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