Environment Forum

A better way to clean water?

CHINA WATER

Treating water for human consumption is costly and energy intensive. Is there a more efficient way to do it?

Gunter Pauli thinks so.

In the first innovation explored by PhD, entrepreneur and eco-designer Pauli in the ZERI Foundation’s two-year essay and video project The Blue Economy, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs, the self cleansing mechanism found in natural water sources is identified as a possible solution to treating water without the huge cost in chemicals and energy.

Rivers clean their own water all the time, and for free, Pauli says in his essay. Their secret? A combination of gravity and a swirling motion called the vortex. If there were a way to replicate that function in water treatment facilities, it would mean energy savings and less cost for producers down to consumers.

This is the idea that inspired Swedish inventors Curt Hallberg and Morten Oveson to design and build the technology to replicate the self-cleansing function of the vortex.

Based on this technology, they started a company, Watreco AB, initially serving water-dependent businesses like ice rinks and golf courses.

This Earth Day, call for clean energy

TAIWAN/

– Michael Brune is Executive Director of the Sierra Club, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States and author of Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. –

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and people are looking back at an amazing 40 years of environmental successes. Americans have come together in their neighborhoods, cities, states and nationally to demand cleaner air and water – and they have been successful.

This should serve as an inspiration for the current and future work to help our planet and the challenges we face along the way. While our rivers were at one time catching fire, it is now our rapidly warming planet we turn the focus to.

from Global News Journal:

Biofuels’ green credentials called into question

Biofuels were once seen as the perfect way to make transport carbon-free, but a series of EU studies are throwing increasing doubt on the green credentials of the alternative fuel.

The latest to be released gave a preliminary assessment that biodiesel from soybeans could create four times more climate-warming emissions than conventional diesel.

The European Commission has not helped itself by keeping many of the studies hidden -- the most recent being an annex cut from a published report that was only released after Reuters and several NGOs used transparency laws to gain access.

Factbox: Rich nations’ greenhouse emissions down 2.2 percent

Greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized nations fell by 2.2 percent in 2008, the steepest fall since 1992 as the world economy slowed, a Reuters compilation shows.

Following are official national greenhouse gas emissions data submitted to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in recent days.

A few are not yet available. (Thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent unless stated, excludes land use, land use change and forestry):

from The Great Debate UK:

Impact of the volcano disruption on the airlines

Joris Melkert

- Joris Melkert, MSc BBA, is assistant professor in aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Despite the announcement that air space could begin to re-open in Northern Europe, the Icelandic volcano eruption could prove to be a major turning point for the global airline industry with short- to medium-term questions already being asked by some about its future financial viability.

One of the biggest questions, which engineers will be grappling with right now, is whether there is a cost-efficient way to ‘design out’ the current problems that aircraft experience with dust clouds.

Skipping the risk mismanagement

BRITAIN/

Felix Salmon is a Reuters Blogger. This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

About a decade ago, Miguel Torres planted 104 hectares of pinot noir grapes in the Spanish Pyrenees, 3,300 feet above sea level. It’s cold up there and not much good for grapes—at least not these days. But Torres, the head of one of Spain’s foremost wine families, knows that the climate is changing.

His company’s scientists reckon that the Rioja wine region could be nonviable within 40 to 70 years, as temperatures increase and Europe’s wine belt moves north by up to 25 miles per decade. Other winemakers are talking about growing grapes as far north as Scandinavia and southern England.

Betting on climate change

NORTHWESTPASSAGE/

Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired.  This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

Last year, Beluga Shipping discovered that there’s money in global warming.

Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multi-ton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.

from The Great Debate UK:

Why the Icelandic volcano could herald even more disruption

Andy_Hooper- Dr Andrew Hooper is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and is an expert on monitoring deformation of Icelandic volcanoes. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War.  Thousands of flights have been cancelled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected.

The economic consequence to our ‘just-in-time’ society is incalculable at this stage given the disruption to holidays, business plans and indeed the wider business supply chain.  However, the global cost of the disruption will surely ultimately result in a cost of billions, with the share price of several airlines in particular already taking a hit.

What’s up with all the earthquakes?

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global_post_logo

This article by Julia Kumari Drapkin originally appeared in Global Post. The views expressed are her own.

The quake that hit China Wednesday was the latest in a string of earthquakes in the news lately. Many people are wondering what’s going on, so we decided to ask NASA. Eric Fielding is a geophysicist who uses satellites to study earthquakes at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California.

GlobalPost: So first question is the one on everybody’s mind. What on earth, literally, is going on? What’s up with the earthquakes?

Global area planted to biotech crops

(Reuters) – Genetically modified crops were planted on 134 million hectares (335 million acres) in 2009, up 7 percent from 2008, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The following is a look at the global area planted to biotech crops since the world’s first crop, a biotech soybean, was introduced in 1996. table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;} Year Hectares
(million) Acres
(million) 1996 1.7 4.3 1997 11 27.5 1998 27.8 69.5 1999 39.9 98.6 2000 44.2 109.2 2001 52.6 130 2002 58.7 145 2003 67.7 167.2 2004 81 200 2005 90 222 2006 102 252 2007 114.3 282 2008 125 308.8 2009 134 335

Source: ISAAA
(Reporting by Carey Gillam)

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