The Block Island Wind Farm

The Block Island Wind Farm – America’s ONLY operational offshore wind farm

The Block Island Wind Farm, in Rhode Island, ACTUALLY is America’s ONLY operational offshore wind farm. This wind farm was built by Deepwater Wind for $300 million, and is 4 miles off the coast of Block Island, RI. – CLICK FOR MORE INFO. ON THE:  Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm

It is only 30 MW. In comparison, the London Array offshore wind farm is 630 megawatts and powers “half a million UK homes every year, which works out to two-thirds of the homes in Kent”.(source :http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/london-array-paving-the-way-for-efficient-wind-energy-farms.html)

blockisle

Scotland recently powered most of their country with wind energy, along with countries like Germany, Denmark, and Ireland (and much of that is offshore wind energy – 5-countries-leading-the-way-toward-100-renewable-energy)

Americans who discount offshore wind energy (or wind energy in general), in favor of an energy mix including dirty fossil fuels, might want to consider this energy source as a higher priority. What do you think?

solar pv

12 Surprising Ways You Can Help the Environment

It’s not hard to combat climate change and help the environment at the same time. By doing just a few things differently every day, you can be kind to the planet. Here are 12 things you can do to help the environment:

  1. Re-use the Same Glass/ Use Reusable Water Bottles & Mugs

Every time you run the dishwasher, you use valuable energy and water. Cutting down on the number of wash cycles you run is a great way to conserve those resources. Get in the habit of only using one or two glasses each day. If you’re refilling it with water over and over again, there’s no need to wash it out. The same goes for coffee and tea cups.

  1. Start a Compost Pile

We create an incredible amount of natural waste through peels, shells, other food/ garden waste and grounds. Instead of tossing all that in the trash, start a compost pile and recycle it in your yard.

  1. Use Energy Star Appliances

Appliances that require less than a specific amount of energy when compared to their traditional counterparts, receive an Energy Star mark, indicating to the consumer that the item in question will reduce energy consumption when compared to items not carrying the label. Certain products have additional stipulations that must be met in order to receive the Energy Star mark.

energy-star-logo

  1. Turn off faucets when not using water

Save water by running faucets only when you really use water.

  1. Stamp Out Energy Vampires

Unplug any appliances that you’re not using, including electronic devices like computers. Use smart electric power strips when you can, or power strips you can turn on/ off manually. Don’t keep chargers plugged in, either. These all suck up energy even when they’re not in use.

  1. Stay in For Dinner

From the gas your car uses to bring you to the restaurant to the trucks needed to deliver the food to the kitchen, dining out is a major cause of environmental distress.

  1. Buy Local

Go to a farmer’s market rather than the grocery store for your produce. It will taste fresher and you’ll be supporting local companies rather than gas-sucking national ones.

  1. Turn Out the Lights/ Use Eco-friendly Lights

Turn off the lights in rooms/ patios when you’re done using them. Use energy efficient CFL or LED lights when you can.

led4

  1. BYOB

Not bring your own beer, but rather bring your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store to reduce the number of plastic bags floating around.

  1. Recycle

Yes, you’ve probably been recycling your soda cans and milk jugs for decades, but did you know you can also recycle batteries? TVs and cell phones? Cardboard? Old sneakers?

clearview-domed-recyling-bins

  1. Grow a Garden

The planet likes it when you grow things. It helps filter out bad air and is a great sustainable practice. Plus, you can’t beat a home-grown tomato or herbs.

  1. Go Solar

If you’re not ready for solar panels on your roof, try solar garden/ patio lights to get your feet wet. Also, depending on your location, you might have community solar available in your neighborhood or clean energy/ renewable power options available from your utility.

This post is by:

James White Freelance Writer

Website: http://www.infobros.com

carbon reduction plan

The battle against climate change: national carbon reduction goals

As part of the ongoing battle against climate change, numerous countries in the developed world have set themselves carbon reduction goals. They’re fairly self-explanatory; by a certain year, a certain nation aims to have reduced its carbon emissions by a certain amount compared to a previous, certain year.

Essentially every major country has joined in, but are any of them doing enough? Analysis by the CAT Consortium’s ‘Climate Action Tracker‘ suggests that none of the world’s great powers are coming close to leading the way on carbon reduction as you might expect, and in fact it is smaller countries that are achieving the most impressive things in this area. This odd disparity needs to be investigated further.

First of all, let’s take a look at the promises made by various major states. In March 2015, President Obama confirmed that the United States aims to cut its emissions by 26-28% by 2025, in comparison to 2005 levels. The EU demands a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030, and this is not merely an aim either; it’s legally binding.

The really good aspect of the EU’s current carbon reduction plan is that it should dramatically overachieve on its commitments made for the Kyoto Protocol, but less promising is that it doesn’t look likely to meet its more ambitious Copenhagen Pledge, which aimed to reduce emission levels by 30% from 1990 levels by 2020. Once one of these high profile pledges has been broken, you start to have less faith that others of them will be achieved.

Ahead of the Paris United Framework Climate Change Conference in 2015, China announced it would be cutting its carbon emissions by a sizeable 60-65% compared to its 2005 level. While this may be a lot more than the other states included in this article, China is of course comfortably the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas, and its attempts to meet its carbon intensity targets are so ineffective that they would be rated ‘inadequate’ by the Climate Action Tracker if taken in isolation.

India intends its carbon emissions to be between 33-35% lower in 2030 than they were in 2005. They also intend to generation additional forest and tree cover, but on this and indeed their overall emissions targets, India can be alarmingly vague on how it plans to achieve them. Elsewhere, Australia targets a 26-28% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, and Canada has set a 30% reduction target from 2005 by 2030.

This excel spreadsheet lists NDC* targets by country:

Nationally Determined Contribution

Table of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions from selected countries

Many of these figures sound fairly impressive. Considering how overwhelming swathes of the world are currently powered in not particularly environmentally friendly ways, numbers like 30-35% sound like ambitious targets from nations prepared to make sacrifices in order to safeguard the future for generations to come.

But all is not as it seems. Campaign group The CAT Consortium run the Climate Action Tracker, which grades each nation on how useful its promises actually are. The results are not good. None of the countries listed above are rated higher than a ‘medium’ on their scale, and Australia and Canada are deemed ‘inadequate.’ The five countries whose reduction targets have been deemed ‘sufficient’ by the Climate Action Tracker are Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Morocco and the Gambia.

Major countries like the United States are simply not pulling their weight. Their Nationally Determined Contribution towards limiting climate change to an increase below 2°c will not be enough unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. The CAT is particularly scathing about Australia, whose environmental policies are entirely at odds with its commitments.

If it keeps going at its current rate, Australia’s carbon emissions in 2030 will, astonishingly, be 27% higher than 2005 levels. In 2014, the Australian government abolished its Clean Energy Future Plan, which was going some way to helping the country meet its targets. If most countries mistakenly followed Australia’s example, global warming would comfortably exceed 3-4°c.

Of course, there are pressures that come with being a massive global economy that nations like Bhutan and Morocco don’t face, but that’s no excuse for the broken promises, nor the lack of ambition. Costa Rica’s targets are at the most ambitious end of its fair contribution. The United States’s targets are at the least ambitious end.

Why are smaller nations putting in the most amount of effort? Perhaps the most developed nations in the world, having grown used to a comfortable lifestyle, find it hard to comprehend the sheer destruction that climate change could cause; that’s the most logical conclusion when you see the disparity in the figures.

Our day to day lives are fairly easy- we wake up in homes that are well heated or air conditioned depending on the weather, food stocks are plentiful when we go to stores, electricity is available on demand anywhere we go. All of these things could change if global warming takes full effect, but we take them for granted and perhaps don’t truly believe deep down that they will ever change. These comforts have been there for us since we were born, so surely they will still be there when we die? Well, unfortunately not.

For this reason, environmentally conscious people living in nations deemed ‘inadequate’ or merely ‘medium’ need to be hyper vigilant about holding their ruling class to promises made about carbon emissions reduction, and cajoling them to go further still. In the long run, this is the only way to maintain a standard of living similar to what we enjoy today. Climate change is the most pressing problem posed to the planet, and unless we take an enthusiastic role in stopping it, we will one day rue the consequences. Does our generation want to be remembered for the planet’s destruction?

*NDC= Nationally Determined Contribution

solar concentrating plant

The largest solar concentrating plant in the world

Jointly owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) sprawls across the California and Nevada border in the Mojave Desert. Ivanpah is a “hybrid solar plant”, relying on both solar power and power from natural gas. Ivanpah began operations in 2014 is still considered the largest concentrated solar plant (CSP) in the world, with facilities that stretch over 3,500 acres (development of CSP plants that will surpass the size of ISEGS are underway in Morocco and Dubai, but the entire Morocco plant won’t come online for a couple of years, and the Dubai plant not until well after that). The 377 to 400 megawatt ISEGS solar complex is revolutionizing the solar energy industry, proving that large scale renewable energy projects are not only possible, but can both thrive and surpass expectations.

With a complex including three CSP plants, ISEGS produces enough clean, renewable electricity to power 140,000 homes during peak hours, and almost double that amount during off peak hours. In fact, ISEGS produces double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy than any other plant in the United States.

ISEGS officially broke ground on October 27, 2010 and opened for business in February of 2014. Despite being one large complex, the project was actually broken down into three separate plants, each with their own 400-plus foot tower affixed with water filled receivers/ boilers. The specific technology used is known as Luz Power Tower 550, which was developed by BrightSource Energy with the goal of creating a unique take on traditional energy generation that harnessed and increased the power of the sun.

Ivanpah covers 3,500 acres, and each plant relies on solar receivers filled with water nestled atop the towers (as well as natural gas). By using 300,000 mirrors, known as heliostats, to increase the sun’s energy and reflect the light directly onto the solar receivers at strategic angles, the water in the receivers is heated to such high temperatures that it dissolves into steam. From here, the steam is then piped into a conventional turbine to generate electricity, which feeds into the power lines connected to the adjacent communities.

This large scale renewable energy project eliminates 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent to removing 70,000 cars from the road.  And because the complex uses dry cooling to condense the steam, it consumes significantly less water than similar steam-powered plants. However, when it’s cloudy, or the sunshine is otherwise not readily available, the plant is able to run on natural gas, as well as the stored thermal energy from the solar concentrating power system.

Awarded Plant of the Year by POWER Magazine in 2014, the Ivanpah complex is proof that large-scale renewable energy projects are not only possible, but efficient as well. This massive complex was constructed in just 4 years, added jobs and funds to a somewhat dwindling economy, and is already dramatically reducing the amount of carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere.

Please see: http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/ivanpah-solar-electric-generating-system.html

donald trump's ireland golf course

Trump’s push for a seawall on his Irish golf course – due to CLIMATE CHANGE

Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, in County Clare, home of Doonbeg Golf Links course, a course Trump owns in Ireland. [ABOVE]

Donald Trump wants to build a seawall to protect one of his golf courses (in Ireland) due to, of all things, the rising sea levels that will undoubtedly result from climate change. He is a huge climate change denier, but global warming will cause rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events that will, in all certainty, threaten his ocean-front golf course in Ireland -(http://time.com/4345367/donald-trump-climate-change-golf-course/).

 Yet, global warming is a “hoax”? Hmmm, how does THAT work?

 Donald Trump and his campaign is entirely reactive and then pandering. Of course global warming is a hoax because many of his voters believe it’s a hoax. But his rhetoric is more like a bad tick. Many of his voters are xenophobic, or even outright bigots (sorry to those Donald Trump supporters who are sincerely what you would call good people) – (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/06/racial-anxiety-is-a-huge-driver-of-support-for-donald-trump-two-new-studies-find).

If he and his campaign feel that his supporters will like a speech that day around anti-immigration, or “closing off the borders”, that’s what they will do. If his completely ignorant views on climate change seem like good fodder for his supporters, that day, that will be included in the day’s speech. Facts notwithstanding.

 Facts are not apparently important to Trump or Trump’s campaign. Money is. Power is. The truth behind Trump’s motive to try and defund climate initiatives and play ignorant to climate science is that, that is what his voters want to hear. Science, facts and even common sense play no role in Trump’s rhetoric. He plays off people’s ignorance, gullibility and fear – entirely.

world-water-day-polluted-drinking-water-a-serious-threat-to-public-health

6 ways to aid the world water crisis

How important is clean drinking and potable water for household use? 1/3 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. The water used for cooking, cleaning and bathing must also be clean, as many diseases (especially in developing countries) are water-borne diseases, from bacteria or other microorganisms in unclean water (see: http://globalhydration.com/resources/waterbone-disease). In fact, over 10% of the world’s population doesn’t even have access to clean potable water. Meanwhile, over 70% of the earth is covered in water.

water nano-water filter

1(a). The most immediate way to help the world water crisis is to provide filters to people who lack clean water, primarily to the 3rd world and low-income people of the world. This takes relief funds, both established by governments and private charities. There are many promising and emerging water purification technologies such as LifeStraw. “LifeStraw technology was originally introduced in 2005 as an emergency response tool to filter water…” (http://lifestraw.com)

(more clean water technologies are described here)- http://www.cleverism.com/water-purification-new-technologies-change-world/

Established, available filter technologies also range from: activated charcoal (or other carbon-based materials) to new nanotechnologies which use materials such as graphene, silver and titanium which are made into microscopic filtration membranes. There are a variety of very promising uses of graphene in newly designed and developed filters -(https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/07/can-graphene-make-the-worlds-water-clean/).

More media on nanotechnologies (including graphene materials used in combination with other nanomaterials):

Another great example of the use of graphene in water filters and water systems comes from the company G2O: http://g2o.co/

“G2O’s graphene filter technology addressing a $2Bn market and reducing energy costs by up to 97%. In addition to use in filter technologies, this company sees applications for its graphene technology in:

  • Environmental maritime applications in aquaculture and oil & gas production
  • Drain water and waste water management
  • Desalination of seawater”

1(b). Develop more water treatment (storm water, river/ stream/ lake water, industrial use water, sewage) plants (http://www.waterworld.com/waste-water/treatment.html)

clean_waterdrop_Fotolia2. Improve and create new rainwater collection systems such as the ones found here: http://www.rainharvest.com/

3. Water reclamation:

desalination

4. Develop more desalination plants…(please check the desalination article on our website: desalination-clean-water-for-a-thirsty-world and also http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/27/desalination-quest-quench-worlds-thirst-water

5. Improve water infrastructure (reservoirs, aqueducts, piping networks…) and 6. Utilities (especially in 3rd world countries) to further develop the use of micro-payments via mobile/ smart phones (also great for solar electricity, in addition to water)

world energy mix

Shortfall in International GHG Pledges

There is a shortfall between the pledges that the nearly 200 countries independently, and internationally as a whole, have made at the COP 21 in Paris last November, compared to the reality of what the planet has in its future. There is also a genuine effort to limit global temperature rise to 2 degree celsius average global temperature increase above the normal numbers (using historical numbers as a baseline for comparison) by the end of this century – the number that represents saving the planet from the worst effects of climate change.

In order to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change, the international community has pledged, in Paris, to increase the use of such sustainability technologies as renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, while decreasing fossil fuel use, in order to mitigate GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions…emissions which lead to global temperature rise. The idea is to keep global temperature rise to under 2 degrees celsius above normal (compared to historical values) by the end of this century.

scoreboard banner: result of international climate change action

The reality is that the average global temperature rise will be significantly greater than what was promised at Paris. A 5-8+ degrees fahrenheit rise in average temperature would result if the world simply maintains the status quo. The pledges in Paris, as well as actions by nations and private investors before and after COP21, demonstrate a genuine global effort in the research, development and effective use of sustainable technologies and measures. Of course, this is great, but global temperature rise still will be over the global temperature goals committed to in Paris.

In other words, at least 2+ degrees celsius change over the acceptable 2 degrees limit by the end of this century will result, even if all pledges by all countries are actually met. Even in this positive scenario (and the best-case scenario discribed below), as of now, there is still a shortfall – this NYTimes infographic clearly illustrates this problem — http://tinyurl.com/gct333

If all nearly 200 nations keep all of their promises from COP21, temperature rise will be limited to just 0.035°C (0.063°F) annually (best case). Even if every government on the planet that participated not only keeps every Paris promise, reduces all emissions as promised by 2030 (2030 was the year of note discussed in Paris), and shifts no emissions to other countries, but also keeps these emission reductions going throughout the rest of the century, temperature rise will be kept to just 3°C (5.4°F) by the year 2100.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his moratorium on drilling for oil in the Atlantic, the U.S.’s 3 year moratorium on building coal mines on federal land, China’s 3 year ban on building new coal mines, and their shutting down of thousands of older coal power plants are all very positive signs. Other promising signs include the U.S.’s increased development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies (as well as in China, India and much of the developing world). Europe has been leading the way for many years, in many respects, in terms of sustainability technologies. However, optimism, in the face of the undeniable math of climate change which clearly tells us more needs to be done, should be weighed carefully against climate change realities.

Green City Times is a resource on sustainability, urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency and green building. Find facts on renewable energy including: hydroelectric (from dams, mills, waves, currents and tides), solar, wind, geothermal, biomass (and biofuel). Also get info. about everything from recycling to clean coal…

You will discover information on 7 of the world’s most sustainable cities. Green City Times also features articles on the latest sustainability technology. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

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desalination

World water crisis solutions: desalination

Desalination

The two desalination plants featured in this article, one in San Diego, California, and one in Tel Aviv, Israel, represent the two largest of these plants in the world. Desalination represents a part of the solution to the world water crisis, along with wastewater treatment, and distributing water filters to the poor, especially in 3rd world areas. Worldwide, only 1 in 9 people have access to clean drinking water, Although Carlsbad and Tel Aviv don’t represent the struggles with water scarcity in the third world, they do represent solutions to the growing need for clean water in the world, as a whole. Both plants use a technology called reverse osmosis as part of the process.

http://www.citylab.com/tech/2015/12/a-look-inside-the-largest-desalination-plant-in-the-western-hemisphere/420501/

The largest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is open in Carlsbad, San Diego, heralding what may be a new era in U.S. water use.

http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/533446/desalination-out-of-desperation/

Global desalination output has tripled since 2000: 16,000 plants are up and running around the world, and the pace of construction is expected to increase while the technology continues to improve. Desalination is ripe for technological improvement. A combination of sensor-driven optimization and automation, energy-efficient technology that is said to nearly halve energy consumptionplus new types of membranes, could eventually allow for desalination plants that are half the size and use commensurately less energy. Among other benefits, small, mobile desalination units could be used in agricultural regions hundreds of miles away from the ocean, where demand for water is great and growing. Already, some 700 million people worldwide suffer from water scarcity, but that number is expected to swell to 1.8 billion in just 10 years. Some countries, like Israel, already rely heavily on desalination; more will follow suit.

http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/534996/megascale-desalination/

10 miles south of Tel Aviv, Israel, a vast new industrial facility hums around the clock. It is the world’s largest (larger than the Carlsbad plant) modern seawater desalination plant, providing 20 percent of the water consumed by the country’s households. Thanks to a series of engineering and materials advances, however, it produces clean water from the sea cheaply and at a scale never before achieved, demonstrating that seawater desalination can cost-effectively provide a substantial portion of a nation’s water supply.

cop21

COP21 – good news for the planet

 On the 12th of December, 2015, high-level representatives from 195 nations, including many presidents and prime ministers, agreed to try to hold warming “well below” 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures. On April 22, at the UN in NYC, the agreement takes full effect (once nations representing a majority of the planet’s GHG emissions sign the agreement). Unfortunately, the truth is that, even if the agreement in Paris is carried out by every nation, and to the letter, global temperatures will still be on course to rise by around 2.7°C by the end of the century.

Luckily, the best news of the entire COP21 came on Day 1 with the announcement of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (breakthroughenergycoalition.com). The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a group of more than 20 billionaires (including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg {CEO of Facebook}) who have agreed to invest in innovative clean energy. The Coalition wouldn’t be able to fund and meet all of its goals without the most important international commitment by governments to invest in clean energy to date. Mission Innovation (mission-innovation.net) is a group of 20 countries including the U.S., Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, who have pledged to double government investment in clean energy innovation and to be transparent about its clean energy research and development efforts. In a statement from the Coalition, the importance of both groups is highlighted –

“THE WORLD NEEDS WIDELY AVAILABLE ENERGY that is reliable, affordable and does not produce carbon. The only way to accomplish that goal is by developing new tools to power the world. That innovation will result from a dramatically scaled up public research pipeline linked to truly patient, flexible investments committed to developing the technologies that will create a new energy mix. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is working together with a growing group of visionary countries who are significantly increasing their public research pipeline through the Mission Innovation initiative to make that future a reality.”

Brazil was one of the last countries to join the ‘high ambition coalition’, while China and India were hold outs to this section of the pact. The ‘high ambition coalition’ are a group of countries, including most of the “Mission Innovation” countries and a group of the most vulnerable (smaller generally, and poorer) nations, that are looking towards a more ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. China and India are the major emitters in the developing world, and were the last agree to the main pact, but not the high ambition goal, at COP21.

Below are some major resources for more information on the COP21:

 

COP21 Paris – breakdown of the event

coal plant

Stabilize greenhouse gasses

There are numerous ways that we can stabilize greenhouse gasses, thereby “stopping” climate change. Governments of 1st world and even developing nations must implement some of the following policies (and most might, at least implement some of the following, especially after the upcoming COP meeting of the UNFCCC in Paris). Clearly, the path to stabilize GHG emissions includes making it a priority for governments to financially invest in at least some of these solutions:

 

1. A carbon tax, or carbon cap-and-trade system, or both

2. Further investment in, and development of all forms of renewable energy including: wind, solar, geothermal and biomass/biofuel etc…

3. Carbon capture and storage

4. Widespread adoption of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, as well as sustainable mass transportation using biofuel or electricity (bus systems, light rail etc…)

5. More use of, and development of smart grid infrastructure – smart meters, home energy management systems etc…

6. Energy, especially renewable energy, storage

 

 

This is certainly an incomplete list, so please feel free to add points.