We are well-aware of the negative effects of air pollution on human health and on the environment, but a recent study at Duke University has revealed that global solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust.
Back in 2011, utility-scale solar power cost a little over $4 per watt on average. In February of that year, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the SunShot initiative, which had the goal of reducing the total cost of photovoltaic systems by 75% to the target value of $1 a watt by the year 2020.
A recent report from the Energy Information Administration notes that for the first time in 40 years, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are less than those from transportation. The reason is that power plants nationwide are abandoning the use of coal and turning to cleaner burning natural gas, as well as newer sources such as solar and wind power.
The global efforts to reduce carbon emissions are marked by a conspicuous omission: the aviation and shipping industries. These two industries contribute 6% of all man-made CO2 emissions, but have so far managed to avoid international control. And not only are they major sources of carbon emissions, their contributions are growing three times faster than overall global CO2 emissions.
We have talked about food waste before. It is a big problem in this country: some 31% of our food supply is wasted, more than 130 billion pounds a year. Food waste makes up 21% of solid waste in municipal landfills, which means that it accounts for the bulk of landfill methane emissions. Methane is more than 20 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and landfills are a major source of it.