Tag Archives: sustainability

Life After Oil and Gas – NYTimes.com

24 Mar

As renewable energy gets cheaper and machines and buildings become more energy efficient, a number of countries that two decades ago ran on a fuel mix much like America’s are successfully dialing down their fossil fuel habits. Thirteen countries got more than 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2011, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, and many are aiming still higher.

Could we? Should we?

A National Research Council report released last week concluded that the United States could halve by 2030 the oil used in cars and trucks compared with 2005 levels by improving the efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles and by relying more on cars that use alternative power sources, like electric batteries and biofuels.

via Life After Oil and Gas – NYTimes.com.

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Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com

13 Mar

A group of scientists and energy analysts has laid out a path under which New York State could, in theory, eliminate its use of fossil fuels and nuclear power — including for transportation — by 2050. The graph above charts the contributions played by improved efficiency and adoption of renewable electricity sources as well as hydrogen fuel cells (with the hydrogen generated with renewable energy).

In particular, note this:

Rapid expansion of micro WWS [wind, water, sunlight] generation and associated decentralized infrastructure: rooftop solar, micro-wind, V2G, smart grids. These are mainly upgrades and additions to infrastructure, rather than replacement. And again, the correct evaluation basis is full social cost-benefit analysis over the entire physical lifetime, at near-zero discount rate.

via Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com.

An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts – Katherine Ellison – National – The Atlantic

9 May

Alec Loorz turns 18 at the end of this month. While finishing high school and playing Ultimate Frisbee on weekends, he’s also suing the federal government in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The Ventura, California, teen and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change — the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013.

Of course I’m glad the kids are doing this. But it’s also sad that they have to do it and that they’re the ones doing it, not their parents.

via An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts – Katherine Ellison – National – The Atlantic.

Beyond .350: Measuring New Thresholds of Global Collapse | Environment | AlterNet

23 Feb

But in today’s issue of the journal Nature, Rockstrom and 27 of his fellow environmental scientists argue that we have to conceive of many tipping points at once. They propose that humans must keep the planet in what they call a “safe operating space,” inside of which we can thrive. If we push past the boundaries of that space — by wiping out biodiversity, for example, or diverting too much of the world’s freshwater — we risk catastrophe.

Unfortunately, the authors of the Nature paper maintain, we’ve already started pushing out beyond these boundaries without knowing where they actually are. “We’re sitting on top of a mesa right now, and we’re driving around, but we don’t have our lights on and we don’t even have a map,” says Jonathan Foley, a co-author of the new study and the director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. “That’s a dangerous way to move around.”

via Beyond .350: Measuring New Thresholds of Global Collapse | Environment | AlterNet.

McDonald’s Will Phase Out Gestation Crates – NYTimes.com

14 Feb

On Monday, after years of internal and external pressure, the company announced a laudable course of action regarding the sows (female pigs) in their supply chain: McDonald’s is requiring, by May, that its suppliers of pork provide plans for phasing out gestation crates. Once those plans are delivered, says Bob Langert, the company’s vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s will create a timetable to end the use of gestation crates in its supply chain. “Considering that 90 percent [of the pregnant sows] in the United States are in gestation stalls, this is a huge issue,” he says, and he’s right.

MacDonald’s is so large that this move will force the entire pork industry to improve living conditions for pigs.

via McDonald’s Will Phase Out Gestation Crates – NYTimes.com.

Transition Videos – YouTube

11 Jan

About The Transition is Now!

Inspiring videos about a wide variety of topics including Transition Town Movement, consciousness, culture, Permaculture, Evolver Social Movement, spirituality, philosophy, and much more. We focus on solutions and strategies to create a more beautiful, sustainable world. We love to engage with other like minds through conversations in person and through this world wide web.

via CosmicRevolutionKS’s Channel – YouTube.

In Phoenix, the Dark Side of ‘Green’ – NYTimes.com

7 Nov

Whereas uptown populations are increasingly sequestered in green showpiece zones, residents in low-lying areas who cannot afford the low-carbon lifestyle are struggling to breathe fresh air or are even trapped in cancer clusters. You can find this pattern in many American cities. The problem is that the carbon savings to be gotten out of this upscale demographic — which represents one in five American adults and is known as Lohas, an acronym for “lifestyles of health and sustainability” — can’t outweigh the commercial neglect of the other 80 percent. If we are to moderate climate change, the green wave has to lift all vessels.

via In Phoenix, the Dark Side of ‘Green’ – NYTimes.com.

Sustaining a Life in the Desert

10 Mar

The New York Times just ran a story about John Wells, who lives off the grid on 60 acres of West Texas desert. He calls his place the “Southwest Texas Alternative Energy And Sustainable Living Field Laboratory.” As Wells hit middle age got tired of a city-based life style and mounting debt. His father died and Wells began to rethink his life. As he says at his website:

Several years ago I began experimenting with alternative energy. I feel that the technology today has advanced enough and the costs have dropped to the point where just about anyone can make the move to off the grid living. This just happened to coincide with discovering accounts of pioneer life of some of my relatives from over 100 years ago. Their lives were difficult back then, but I sensed a feeling of great joy and accomplishment in overcoming hardship – where hard work payed off and living life was a fulfilling experience. I began to envision my life as a pioneer in the 21st century, and have chosen to follow that path.

In taking inventory of my life to this point in time, I believe that over the years I have picked up just the right skills and mentality to live my dream of how I would do it if I had it to do all over again. I suddenly found myself at the perfect point in my lifetime to go for that dream.

And so he sold his house for $600K, paid off his debts, and moved from upstate New York to Texas. He lives on rainwater, solar power, composts his wastes, and is grows vegetables. He’s got a blog going back to 2008, and a bunch of photos at his Flickr site.

Wells, of course, is in a long tradition of go it aloners. One suspects he’d be doing this regardless of the society-wide need for Transition. And that’s the point, our society needs to make such a radical decision. We don’t all have to make the decision together, but by ones and twos and tens and more, we’ve got to start moving and start changing our communities.