The next time you think of going on a vacation to the Bahamas, maybe stop and consider an environmentally friendly resort in order to contribute in reducing your own carbon footprint. One such resort is the Star Island in the Bahamas, which has the distinction of being entirely energy self sufficient. It generates its power from solar, wind and micro-hydro generators, furthermore the resort’s construction, interior and grounds have also been planned so that its details are environmentally sustainable. The luxury resort is a 10-minute boat ride from Harbour Island, near Eleuthera, and combines private homes, resort residences and bungalows with leisure facilities like a spa, restaurants, bars, pools and a “no fuel” marina. Guests can get in touch with nature through outdoor activities such as diving, sailing and deep-sea fishing. The building’s structure is designed to meet or exceed LEED requirements, through the use of materials such as cold formed steel (CFS), a mostly recycled material which relies on its manufacturing process to give it the same strength as virgin steel. The heat-free manufacturing process also reduces its carbon footprint. Additionally, construction time, shipping demands and waste are reduced through the use of insulated concrete forms – lightweight forms that are filled with concrete on site.
Brazil sugarcane workers are soon to feel the corporate axe, Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) said 80% of the 500,000 jobs would be gone within three years and admitted that moving to a tractor-based system would cause pain and upheaval for its migrant workforce. Behind the move to phase out sugar cane cutters are tales of exploitation that have damaged the image of Brazilian biofuels in big importing countries such as Sweden and potentially in Britain, where the government has mandated that 2.5% of all petrol come from biofuels. The condition of sugar workers was rarely noticed when the commodity was exported for sugar but the position has changed now that Brazil is the world’s second-largest exporter of sugar-based ethanol to use as a biofuel in petrol. Sugar cane cutters who have been working Brazil’s land since 1525, when Portuguese colonialists first experimented with growing the crop, are to make way for mechanization. Manual labor is also blamed for poor environmental practices such as crop wastage and the burning of stubble.
The United Nations kick started this year’s World Environment Day by urging the world to kick an all-consuming addiction to carbon dioxide and said everyone must take steps to fight climate change. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said global warming was becoming the defining issue of the era and will hurt rich and poor alike. World Environment Day, conceived in 1972, is the United Nations’ principal day to mark global green issues and aims to give a human face to environmental problems and solutions. Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are rising quickly and scientists say the world faces rising seas, melting glaciers and more intense storms, droughts and floods as the planet warms.
Find yourself looking at bus schedules instead of a trip to the gas station? The rise of gasoline prices, coming at a time when most Americans are tightening their belts, has led to a spike in demand for public transit. This in turn is great for the environment as more people choose environment friendly alternatives than their gas guzzling 4x4s and Humvees for everyday transit.
Sarah Featherstone’s cutting-edge green home has been sold for a record-breaking $14.2million USD! The building, known as Orchid House, is one of the key homes on Lower Mill Estate, a project to turn a disused gravel pit into a beautiful 450-acre nature reserve. At $5800 per square foot, its one of the pricey real estate markets in the UK. The aim of the building is to produce more energy than it consumes by way of geothermal heating. The form is created using laminated veneer lumber which is more long lasting than conventional timber but isn’t too great for the environment.
If you feel that a rainy day is an opportunity for water harvesting and aren’t keen with the upside-down umbrella that collects water, a more practical solution is in the works. The FilterBrella actually collects water on the move in the handle which acts a portable bottle. The canopy is made of compostable polylactic acid plastic blends, which makes it environment friendly. Adding to the environmental friendliness is the innovative activated carbon filter in its hollow rod. The hollow rod actually lets in rainwater, which, then gets purified by the activated carbon.
Siemens Energy will be soon opening its first U.S. based wind turbine R&D competence center in Boulder, Colorado. The facility is expected to employ an estimated 50 people and will focus on atmospheric science research, aerodynamic blade design, structural dynamics, wind turbine dispatch prediction and reliability. The new Siemens R&D Center is expected to create 12-15 green-collar positions in the first year, followed by 5-10 additional careers every year thereafter, resulting in approximately 50 new positions by 2013. Most employees will be new hires with a PhD or master’s degree in the desired disciplines.
The fuel crisis has many switching to the alternative transport solutions, but finding a station that sells hydrogen or is capable to charge your electric vehicle in a jiffy is very rare. That could soon change as Shell is planning to sell hydrogen fuel from its gas stations in LA, as part of a research program run by the US Department of Energy in conjunction with GM. Shell’s hydrogen is created on-site with an electrolyzer, but all parties agree that this is only a short-term solution. Shell will build a few more stations on its own in the next few months, and they will be part of “mini networks” of hydrogen filling stations that will hopefully help spark mass production of fuel cell vehicles. These are needed in big cities since the only emission would be water, but paradoxically, the source for the hydrogen is fossil fuels.
Globalization may have brought the world closer in terms of producing goods cheaper and yet maintaining the costs and quality of the produced product. This however has caused a rampant illness to the eco system of the planet, termed as Ecological Greenlash. Ecological greenlash occurs when human action aimed at increasing the supply of a desired ecosystem service (e.g. food production) inadvertently degrade other ecosystem services (e.g. climatic regulation or pollination) that are essential for the provision of the desired ecosystem service, consequently reducing the supply of the desired ecosystem service. The world is also becoming highly interconnected through the movement of people and the transport of goods locally to globally. Among ecologists, there is an increasing realization that these connections can have profound influences on the long-term dynamics of ecological systems.
Tokyo will target reducing greenhouse gas emission by a total of 25 percent by 2020 from the 2000 level. Shintaro Ishihara, an acclaimed novelist turned politician, is known for his blunt nationalistic remarks including denunciations of other Asian nations. But he is also known for environmental consciousness and imposed a total ban on heavily polluting diesel vehicles inside Tokyo. He has now proposed a new ‘cap-and-trade’ system to manage carbon emissions in Tokyo, Japan. Under a “cap-and-trade” system starting in 2010, the Tokyo government would require major businesses to reduce carbon emissions while creating an economic incentive by allowing the trade of emissions credits. The move by Tokyo — which with 13 million people is one of the world’s largest cities — is reminiscent of action taken by California, the biggest US state, which launched climate measures despite resistance from President George W. Bush. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has vowed to push forward action on global warming at the July 7-9 summit of the Group of Eight rich nations. Environmental activists said they hoped the rest of Japan would follow Ishihara on climate change.