Green Choices and Alternatives
A New Kind of Hydropower Is Spreading Fast
Digital Journal, Karen Graham
Pumped storage hydropower (PSH), a type of hydroelectric energy storage, is gaining ground around the globe. It uses the same gravitational qualities of water as a conventional dam but doesn’t displace communities and destroy ecosystems. It is a configuration of two water reservoirs at different elevations that can generate power as water moves down from one to the other (discharge), passing through a turbine. When electricity generated from nearby power plants exceeds demand it pumps water back into the upper reservoir (recharge). PSH turns the upper reservoir into a giant storage battery because it can store power and then release it when needed.
I’m in Wyoming to celebrate the next nuclear breakthrough
Gates Notes, Bill Gates
The Natrium plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming which opens around 2030, it will be the most advanced nuclear facility in the world, and it will be much safer and produce far less waste than conventional reactors. We need nuclear power if we’re going to meet the world’s growing need for energy while also eliminating carbon emissions. None of the other clean sources are as reliable, and none of the other reliable sources are as clean. It uses liquid sodium instead of water, so it can absorb all the extra heat generated in the nuclear core. Even if the plant loses power, the sodium just keeps absorbing heat without getting to a dangerous temperature that would cause a meltdown. It also includes an energy storage system that will allow it to control how much electricity it produces at any given time. That’s unique among nuclear reactors, and it’s essential for integrating with power grids that use variable sources like solar and wind.
Hope for the future of energy in fusion power
Buffalo News, Kenneth Chang
Scientists studying fusion energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced they had crossed a long awaited milestone in reproducing the power of the sun in a laboratory. It was the first fusion reaction in a laboratory setting that produced more energy than it took to start the reaction. If nuclear fusion can be deployed on a large scale, it would offer an energy source devoid of the pollution and greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the dangerous long-lived radioactive waste created by current nuclear power plants, which use the splitting of uranium to produce energy. But it will take quite a while before fusion becomes available on a widespread, practical scale.
The Inflation Reduction Act could push climate change tech into the future
Washington Post, Pranshu Verma, Evan Halper
The Inflation Reduction Act could make experimental green energy solutions more appetizing for investors to fund, as start-ups, researchers and established companies get tax credits and grants. Here’s a few of the more intriguing solutions being studied and developed. 1. Direct air capture machines – designed to eliminate carbon by sucking it out of the air and storing it deep underground or by converting it into something solid, removing it from the atmosphere permanently. 2. Carbon capture rail cars – putting carbon sucking machines that look like rail cars on existing trains, powered by the train’s braking system eliminating energy costs. 3. Superhot rock energy – harness the intense heat generated from the Earth to develop an alternative energy source that could be a limitless source of energy that emits zero greenhouse gases. 4. Carbon-free building blocks – create concrete blocks primarily out of a less-carbon intensive material called calcium hydroxide. 5. Green hydrogen – a zero-emissions hydrogen fuel capable of powering vehicles, jets and homes. 6. Small modular nuclear reactors – small scale, zero-emission nuclear plants could be used to power factories or small communities. 7. Fusion energy – scientists have been working for decades to replicate the same process as the sun in a lab, producing unlimited clean, safe renewable energy at a low cost.
The energy in nuclear waste could power the U.S. for 100 years, but the technology was never commercialized
CNBC, Catherine Clifford
The technology to turn nuclear waste into energy, known as a nuclear fast reactor, has existed for decades but wasn’t economic to develop. Nuclear reactors that operate in the U.S. are light-water reactors which use uranium-235 fuel to power a fission reaction. This reaction leaves waste, which is radioactive but still has a tremendous amount of energy potential. Light-water reactors only use a half a percent of the energy that’s in the uranium that’s dug out of the ground. You can get a large fraction of that energy if you were to recycle the fuel through fast reactors. Some waste would have to be disposed, but the amount of long-lived waste can be significantly reduced. Innovators are looking at redesigning fast reactor technology to make them more cost-effective and are pushing for domestic fuel supply chains to be developed to reprocess nuclear waste so it can be used to power fast reactors.
Poop to Power: Turning Wastewater into Clean Energy
Through the Poop to Power Project, Portland is on its way to maximizing the reuse of the methane produced at the treatment plant and turning this waste into a valuable resource. The resulting renewable natural gas (RNG) will be used to replace dirty diesel in commercial vehicles. Harnessing biogas that is produced as a by-product of the wastewater treatment process helps fight climate change and is an important step in creating a low-carbon future. The alternative is to burn the gas through a flare, which means releasing the methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By turning these gases into renewable energy, we keep these harmful greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and put them to a beneficial use.
Hedges Do Way More Than Block Your View
The Atlantic, Katarina Zimmer
Hedgerows form a vital reservoir of biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes where many species might otherwise struggle to survive. By nurturing pollinating insects, they can enhance the yield of crops. And they do it all while pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.
Toronto is home to the world’s largest lake-powered cooling system
The Washington Post, Tik Root
Deep lake water cooling (DLWC) is used to cool over 100 buildings in the city. It saves enough electricity to power a town of 25,000 — and it’s so popular the city is pursuing an expansion. The technology is relatively simple. Instead of relying on energy-intensive compressors and chillers to dissipate heat from buildings, DLWC uses water from nearby Lake Ontario to whisk away the warmth.
A recipe for fighting climate change and feeding the world
The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan
Most commercial crops are annual. They provide only one harvest and must be replanted every year. Growing these foods on an industrial scale usually takes huge amounts of water, fertilizer and energy, making agriculture a major source of carbon and other pollutants. Scientists say this style of farming has imperiled Earth’s soils, destroyed vital habitats and contributed to the dangerous warming of our world. But a new grain, Kernza, a domesticated form of wheatgrass developed by scientists at the nonprofit Land Institute, is perennial. A single seed will grow into a plant that provides grain year after year after year. It forms deep roots that store carbon in the soil and prevent erosion. It can be planted alongside other crops to reduce the need for fertilizer and provide habitat for wildlife. In short, proponents say, it can mimic the way a natural ecosystem works — potentially transforming farming from a cause of environmental degradation into a solution to the planet’s biggest crises.
Nations Go Nuclear as Prices Spike & Renewables Fail
National leaders around the world are announcing big plans to return to nuclear energy now that the cost of natural gas, coal, and petroleum are spiking, and weather-dependent renewables are failing to deliver. Finland has joined France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic in lobbying the European Union to categorize nuclear power as sustainable. Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida came to power on a pro-nuclear platform. In South Korea, a growing majority of the public supports a return to nuclear energy, creating an opening for pro-nuclear presidential candidates. Scientific reports to the EU commission all recommend allowing nuclear plants financing, and the grassroots pro-nuclear movement in Europe continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The victories the pro-nuclear movement is achieving are proof of our original vision. All of the main problems facing nuclear power result from the public’s ignorance, which stems from the decades-long war against it.
Transforming Agriculture to Unleash the Regenerative Power of Nature
The Nature Conservancy
As the world community struggles with the challenge of feeding a growing population and the consequences of a warming planet, billions acres of agricultural lands have already been depleted of their productive value. Regenerative agricultural practices can replenish the soil on the world’s existing croplands and pastures, conserve the water and rich biodiversity of surrounding areas, and change the agriculture sector from a greenhouse gas emitter to a climate change solution. What’s required is a major transformation away from extraction and depletion and toward practices that use the magic of biodiversity to improve and sustain farmland’s vigor and productivity, as well as to maximize agriculture’s potential to take carbon out of the atmosphere and sink it into the ground. To be scaled up quickly, the market itself must start calculating the value of the future productivity of agricultural land, rather than only this year’s harvest. By applying what is known as “true-cost accounting,” we can begin to quantify the market value of ecosystem services without which lands cannot produce. When we look at it this way, strengthening habitats, biodiversity and soils is about more than simple ecology – it is also a solid business proposition.
Finally, They Admit Renewables Are Terrible for The Environment
Researchers at Princeton University and Bloomberg News have just published research showing that wind farms require 370 times more land than nuclear plants, and that shifting away from nuclear and toward renewables would have a devastating impact on America’s natural environments. The better alternative, Bloomberg notes, would be to rely far less on wind and solar and instead build hundreds of nuclear plants and natural gas plants outfitted with systems to capture the carbon dioxide before it escapes into the atmosphere. California is suffering from blackouts and price spikes stemming from over-dependence on weather-dependent energies. The U.S. would need to triple the amount of transmission lines under a high-renewables future, and every place that deploys renewables energies at scale makes electricity more expensive. This is because while solar panels and wind turbines can be produced for less, integrating them into electricity grids requires more and more land, labor, transmission lines, and storage, which all serve to drive up costs.
State Sen. Borrello Backs State Land Conservation
The Post-Journal, John Whittaker
State Sen. George Borrello, seeing a tool in his fight against industrial wind turbines in undeveloped areas, voted for S.6191 would change the Environmental Conservation Law to support and contribute to the national goal of conserving 30% of the land in New York state by 2030. It prioritizes investments that promote biodiversity protection, habitat restoration, wildfire resiliency, regenerative agriculture, sustainably managed landscapes and water protection. It would also direct the state Department of Environmental Conservation to find ways to accelerate the natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Cutting Methane Emissions Quickly Could Slow Climate Warming Rate by 30%
A recently published paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that a rapid, full-scale effort to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, large-scale agriculture and other human sources could slow the worldwide rate of warming by as much as 30%. By reducing emissions of methane, which has more than 80 times the warming power of CO2 for the first 20 years it’s in the atmosphere, we can hit the brakes on the increasingly rapid warming responsible for stronger storms, hotter fire seasons and rapidly melting Arctic sea ice. Fully deploying known solutions in the six sectors responsible for the largest share of emissions could cut the amount of methane from human sources in half by 2030, avoiding a 0.5 degree Fahrenheit of additional global-mean warming by midcentury. The paper encompasses a broad suite of solutions which exist today that, if implemented over the next decade, could cut projected 2030 methane emissions in half, with half of that reduction achievable at no net cost.
Humanity’s greatest ally against climate change is Earth itself
Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan
The earth itself is our greatest ally our efforts to solve climate change. Ecosystems absorb about half of the greenhouse gases humans emit. We must protect them and address the biodiversity crisis, restoring ecosystems and the creatures that inhabit them. Farmers can reduce or eliminate the practice of tilling, displacing essential microbes and increasing erosion. By allowing fields to lie fallow, or planting cover crops, they can return nutrients to the soil. Adding carbon-rich materials such as compost or biochar can boost carbon storage and enhance soil health. Natural climate systems such as planets are capable of storing almost 24 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, roughly two thirds of what people emit. In October, global leaders will gather in Kunming, China, for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. They are expected to hammer out a plan for protecting ecosystems, a “Paris agreement for biodiversity,” Several nations, including the United States, will advocate for setting aside 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans for nature by the end of the decade. Such protections would go a long way toward reducing carbon emissions, as well as boosting animal and plant populations and improving planetary health.
Firms backed by Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Gates have funded an electric motor company that slashes energy consumption
TechCrunch, Jonathan Shieber
The operation of buildings is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions worldwide. Smart building technology adds an intelligent layer to eliminate this waste and inefficiency by automatically controlling lighting, air conditioning, heating, ventilation and other essential systems and Turntide’s electric motors can add additional savings. Turntide’s basic innovation is a software-controlled motor, or switch reluctance motor, that uses precise pulses of energy instead of a constant flow of electricity. The average energy reduction in buildings has been a 64% reduction. If we can replace all the motors in buildings in the U.S. that’s the carbon equivalent of adding over 300 million tons of carbon sequestration per year.
Could We Pay Back The Earth For What It Provides? A New Report Offers A Roadmap
NPR, Eric McDaniel
The “Review on the Economics of Biodiversity”, commissioned by the British government, frames nature as a financial asset that provides humanity with food, water, shelter and “spiritual fulfillment.” It argues that nature’s contributions to global productivity should be quantified and, in essence, repaid. Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognizing that our long-term prosperity relies on re-balancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them. The gross domestic product fails to account for certain costs, including the degradation of the environment, and in ignoring those costs, the metric can obscure the risks that damage poses to future economic growth. The report calls for national and corporate accounting systems to estimate the value of “natural capital” and compensate nature for what it provides through investment in environmental stewardship.
Restoring Farmland Could Drastically Slow Extinctions, Fight Climate Change
The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn
Returning strategic parts of the world’s farmlands to nature could help mitigate both climate change and biodiversity loss, a new study found. A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature, identifies a path to soaking up almost half of the carbon dioxide that has built up since the Industrial Revolution and averting more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinctions on land. The key? Returning a strategic 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature. “It’s one of the most cost effective ways of combating climate change,”.
What is the Circular Economy?
The Circular Economy aims to keep products, components and materials in use for longer, and reuse them, so we get more value (usefulness, or productivity) from them.There are widespread savings from reduced material use, efficiencies in production and the supply chain. These lead to lower levels of waste, pollution and emissions.
Mini-Reactors Are Gaining Traction in the Push for Greener Grids
Bloomberg, Will Wade
As governments around the world set ambitious plans to wean themselves off fossil fuels, there’s a growing awareness closing coal or natural gas plants could lead to electricity shortfalls, as seen in California’s rolling blackouts earlier this month. Nuclear power accounts for 20% of U.S. power, a number that could grow if small nuclear sites are put in place to ease that transition.
New York Has 1,300 Reasons Not To Close Indian Point
Forbes, Robert Bryce
Since then, numerous other towns in the state have been battling the encroachment of Big Wind. The towns of Yates and Somerset, along with three upstate counties — Erie, Orleans, and Niagara – have been actively fighting a proposed 200-megawatt project called Lighthouse Wind, which aims to put dozens of 600-foot-high turbines on the shores of Lake Ontario. Solar projects are also facing opposition. Last year, the town of Cambria rejected a proposed 100-megawatt solar project that would have covered about 900 acres with solar panels. In short, the premature closure of Indian Point – and the raging land-use battles over renewable energy siting in New York – should lead environmental groups to rethink their definition of what qualifies as “green.” Just because wind and solar are renewable doesn’t mean they are green. In fact, the land-use problems with renewables show the exact opposite.”
Transparent Solar Panels turn Windows into Green Energy Collectors
The Open Mind
Researchers from Michigan State University developed completely transparent solar panels, which can have numerous applications in architecture, and other fields like mobile electronics or the automotive industry.
Local inventor’s wind turbine dubbed ‘wave of the future’
Lockport Union Sun & Journal
If Stimm’s turbine catches on as he envisions, energy-related carbon emissions will plummet — as will energy costs. “It’s going to cost less money to drive your (electric) car, less to heat your home; there will be more money available to the average family,” Stimm said. “And it’s clean energy — totally clean.” “This is the wave of the future,” he said
(2013 video applicable to the growing eagle population along the south shore of Lake Ontario)
Why the Eagles Returned
Delaware Highlands Conservancy at www.delawarehighlands.org on Vimeo
In 1972, there was a single pair of nesting American Bald Eagles left in New York state. Today, there are hundreds in New York, Pennsylvania and surrounding states. What does the story of the American Bald Eagle’s return teach us about the impact we have on our environment, and our responsibility to conserve our shared habitat?
Natural solutions can reduce global warming
US forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands could absorb a fifth of greenhouse gas pollution — equivalent to emissions from all US vehicles
Natural Solutions to Climate Change
The Nature Conservacy
In response to climate change, land is key. Today, agriculture, forestry, and other land uses account for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions. But adopting sustainable land management strategies could provide more than one-third of the near-term emission reductions needed to keep warming well below the target—2°C above pre-industrial levels—set by the Paris climate agreement.
The Greenest Energy is the Energy You Don’t Use
SOS Reference/Resource Sheet
Easy ways to reduce consumption and save money
Carbon Footprint Ltd. (Carbon offset company)
Tips and Advice to help you cut carbon and energy costs
Small Footprint Family
Small Footprint Family’s goal is to empower and inspire you with the tools and ideas you need to live a simpler, healthier, more sustainable life.
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