Tag Archives | Environmentalism
Brazil's biggest bank — the state-run Banco do Brasil — is being sued for allegedly funding deforestation in the Amazon. Public prosecutors say the bank lent money to companies that illegally cleared the rainforest and used labour practices bordering on slavery. The smaller state-owned Banco da Amazonia is also being sued. Brazil says it has drastically reduced the rate of deforestation in the Amazon in recent years. Prosecutors in the state of Para said they had uncovered 55 loans worth nearly $5m (£3m) that the Banco do Brasil approved to farms that had broken environmental and employment laws. They also said they had uncovered 37 loans worth $11m given to farms with similar violations by the Banco da Amazonia. The loans violated Brazil's constitution, environmental laws, banking regulations and international agreements signed by Brazil, the independent prosecutors at the Public Ministry said.
Pepsi is trumpeting its creation of a plastic bottle made entirely from plant matter. Great — now we’ll be filling our landfills with plastic forever, even after we run out of oil. Via Gizmodo:
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Soda’s bad for you, but plastics—especially the petroleum-based PET plastics used widely for bottles—are bad for everyone. Thankfully, after millions of dollars and years of research, Pepsi thinks it’s cracked the code on a 100% plant-based PET bottle.
It looks…just like the old bottle. “It’s indistinguishable,” says Rocco Papalia, PepsiCo’s senior vice president of advanced research. But instead of drawing from our planet’s diminishing supply of petroleum, it’s made entirely from plant waste—currently switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and eventually incorporating orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other materials leftover from its food business.
Pepsi’s going to test the bottle with a run of a few hundred thousand in 2012, and if all goes well they plan on converting all their products to the new bottles thereafter.
Can poop be turned into power? The city of Orlando has been working with private-industry partners on turning sewage into electricity in an attempt to answer the age-old question: ‘What if you could take sewage and get rid of it cleanly and quickly, without dumping it in rivers or landfills — and generate pollution-free electricity at the same time?’ Orlando Sentinel reports:
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Orlando officials think they’ve perfected a technology that has flummoxed scientists for decades — one they hope will be used worldwide to turn sewage into electricity and earn the city tens of millions of dollars in royalties.
If city officials and their private-industry partners are right, it could be the biggest thing in sewage treatment since the flush toilet.
“We call it poop to power in five minutes,” said project consultant Roy Pelletier.
While the five-year, $8.5 million project has drawn little attention locally, a small, experimental test plant off busy Alafaya Trail near the University of Central Florida has drawn visitors from Mexico, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi, Canada, Europe and elsewhere in recent weeks.
SkySails has invented a method that could cut down on ‘fuel consumption, costs and carbon footprints’ for commercial ships by developing giant kites. The Raw Story reports:
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The blue-hulled vessel would slip by unnoticed on most seas if not for the white kite, high above her prow, towing her to what its creators hope will be a bright, wind-efficient future.
The enormous kite, which looks like a paraglider, works in tandem with the ship’s engines, cutting back on fuel consumption, costs, and carbon footprint.
“Using kites you can harness more energy than with any other type of wind-powered equipment,” said German inventor Stephan Wrage, whose company SkySails is looking for lift-off on the back of worldwide efforts to boost renewable energy.
The 160-square-metre (524-square-foot) kite, tethered to a yellow rope, can sail 500 metres into the skies where winds are both stronger and more stable, according to the 38-year-old Wrage.
One of the most polluted countries has become number one in clean energy. The US ranks number three. The Guardian reports:
China has overtaken the US for the first time in a league table of investments in low-carbon energy among the G-20, according to a new report by not for profit group the Pew Charitable Trusts published this week.
The report found that despite an overall 6.6 per cent global decline in clean energy investments last year, China invested almost twice as much as the United States in clean energy during 2009.
But the US still leads in energy capacity. It’s interesting for the UK too:
• third in overall clean energy investments
• fourth in five-year clean energy investment growth rate
• fifth in the percentage of total power it receives from clean energy sources ahead of France, China and the US
Has the disposable plastic bag been unfairly scapegoated? The Independent reports on a contrarian U.K. study which found that, with typical use, plastic grocery store bags actually have less of an environmental footprint than paper ones or cotton tote bags. The lesson: avoid needless consumption, and don’t imagine your screen-printed tote is saving the planet:
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Hated by environmentalists and shunned by shoppers, the disposable plastic bag is piling up in a shame-filled corner of retail history. But a draft report by the Environment Agency has found that ordinary high density polythene (HDPE) bags used by shops are actually greener than supposedly low impact choices.
HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the Co2 emissions than paper bags which are given out by retailers such as Primark.
Most paper bags are used only once and one study assumed cotton bags were used only 51 times before being discarded, making them – according to this new report – worse than single-use plastic bags.
Looking for a place to stay in Madrid? Make an ec0-friendly reservation at the Beach Garbage Hotel! The Leader Post reports:
A new hotel has opened in the heart of Madrid proudly declaring that it’s complete rubbish.
More of a wooden shack than a five-star establishment, the walls of the Beach Garbage Hotel are strewn with detritus dragged up by the tide, recovered from landfills or snapped up at flea markets.
Among the wall decorations: Plastic drums, wooden frames, musical instruments, striped socks, tyres, and children’s books.
In the five rooms there are street lights, wobbly sideboards, and torn Persian rugs, ready to welcome the lucky winners of a Facebook competition whose prize was a free stay.
Out front, there is a small patch of sand and palm trees.
[Continues at Leader Post]
Looking for that perfect dress that will turn heads? Well, this one is made with pollutant-absorbing concrete, so you can clean the air too! Discovery News reports:
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A collaboration between London College of Fashion, University of Sheffield, and the University of Ulster, “Herself” is a prototypical dress sprayed with a concrete mixture that purportedly absorbs pollutants in nearby air. The details of the process remain a little hazy, although pollutant-absorbing concrete does actually exist — in fact the same Italian company that made this “transparent” cement (as some readers pointed out, this should have been concrete, which is actually the mixture of cement plus gravel and sand) has already built some air-friendly structures in Europe with it. Using sunlight as a catalyst, titanium dioxide on the surface of the material reacts with pollutants in the air, reportedly decreasing nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide in the surrounding area by up to 65 percent.
It’s not often that politicians apologize for their actions without having to, but Al Gore voiced his regrets at a green energy business conference in Greece. From The Washington Post:
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Former vice president Al Gore said Monday that he regrets supporting first-generation corn-based ethanol subsidies while he was in office.
Reuters reports that Gore said his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies was rooted more in his desire to cultivate farm votes for his presidential run in 2000 than in doing what was right for the environment:
“It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol,” said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens, Greece. First-generation ethanol refers to the most basic, but also most energy intensive, process of converting corn to ethanol for use in vehicle engines.
Gore went on to say that “first-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.” Gore now supports so-called second-generation technologies that do not compete with food — using farm waste or non-food sources such as switchgrass to make ethanol.