Despite efforts by the new administration to increase support for fossil fuels, there is increasing momentum towards a clean-energy future. State and local efforts are driving the country to a 21st-century energy infrastructure, with or without the federal government.
Batteries have never been more important. Not only do we all depend on cell phones, tablets and laptop computers that run on batteries, but two enormous industries are in major transitions that rely upon battery technology: personal transportation and the utility industry. The electricity grid is increasingly turning to solar and wind power for generation and both will require effective energy storage if they are to truly become the predominant sources of electricity.
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.
Hundreds of thousands of reindeer roam Russia’s Yamal Peninsula, which is located in northwestern Siberia, and are herded by the indigenous Nenets people, reportedly among the Arctic’s last truly nomadic reindeer herders. Reindeer provide these indigenous people with transportation, food, clothes, and even tools made from their bones. Reindeer are well suited for the freezing temperatures and thick snow of this climate. But they are not well suited for climate change.
Combating climate change is a bit like treating a disease whose early stage symptoms are not very severe. People are not as motivated as they should be. Businesses have to comply with new regulations and spend money on new technologies, which seems like a losing proposition.
The Red and White Fleet has been ferrying tourists around San Francisco Bay since 1892 and is a company committed to environmental sustainability. When looking for ways to reduce the emissions from its fleet of passenger ferries, the company wondered if there was a way to eliminate emissions entirely. That question was put to researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in a very specific form: Is it feasible to build and operate a high-speed passenger ferry solely powered by hydrogen fuel cells? According to a recently-released report, the answer is yes.
Electric cars are gradually becoming more popular, but there are still real concerns about their driving range, the availability of charging infrastructure, and their price. Adoption of the technology is still rather slow.
There are 35 megacities in the world – metropolitan areas with more than 10 million people. Fifteen of them have populations above 20 million. And many of these teeming metropolises have to contend with some of the worst air pollution on the planet.
In a recent article in Science entitled “Waste not, want not, emit less,” Danish researchers looked at the problem of food waste in both developed and developing countries. Overall, about a third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, but the reasons for this vary in different parts of the world.
We hear a great deal about electric cars these days. Will people buy them? Are they worth it? And, of course, there is the tremendous buzz surrounding Tesla’s forthcoming moderately-priced car. But there is also lots of activity in electrifying larger vehicles, including garbage trucks, city buses, and medium-sized trucks used by freight companies like FedEx.
In March, United Airlines began using a new biofuel for flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The fuel is a renewable product called Honeywell Green Jet Fuel that can replace up to half of the petroleum jet fuel used in flight without any changes to the aircraft technology and it meets all current jet fuel specifications.
Augmenting food with preservatives is not a recent practice. For thousands of years, we have canned fruits with sugar, preserved meats with salt, and pickled vegetables so that they could keep in hot humid environments.
In the Northeast, many are enjoying the last of autumn’s bounty. When we grow fruits and vegetables, we can choose to forgo pesticides, GMOs, or industrial fertilizer. When we shop at farmer’s markets, we support family farms and help maintain open space that we all enjoy.