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The Dummy's Guide to Climate Change

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globalwarming101

There is a beautifully written article on Eco Preservation Society on the basics of climate science. Much of the information on climate change out there isn't very simple and easy to understand. So here are some of the basics on what we know and what we don't know about climate change.

- The earth and the moon receive the same amount of solar radiation

- The average temperature on the earth is 15 deg C while it is -153 deg C on the moon. Why is this?

- The atmosphere of the earth is responsible for this temperature difference. What is the earth's atmosphere made of?

- 99% of the earth's atmosphere is composed of Nitrogen and Oxygen that do not have any impact on its temperature. Greenhouse gases, like CO2, make up the remaining 1% of the atmosphere and are the reason behind the warmer temperature experienced on earth

- While we know for a fact that greenhouse gases make the earth warmer and that human beings are causing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to increase, (the concentration of greenhouse gases has been increasing steadily since the start of the industrial revolution) what we aren't sure of is exactly how much of the warming is natural or not man-made. All the recent papers published by the scientific community places a high probability on the warming being man-made, but it isn't 100%


Why the electric car is a hoax

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Electric car is a hoax resized 600

Electric cars have been around since the mid 19th century. They enjoyed popularity until early twentieth century when advances in internal combustion engine technology made it possible for the average person to own a car that is far superior in every single way - cost, range, speed - save one.

Pundits claim that the electric car is environmentally friendly because it runs on electricity and not not fossil fuels. We should thus support the electric car even though it costs more and has less range and speed. But isn't a major percentage of electricity produced from fossil fuels like coal in North America? In the US, around 70% of electricity is generated from coal and natural gas.

So the electric car is essentially a coal powered car. The one main difference between the electric car and the traditional automobile is the release location of the emissions. With the electric car the emissions are released at the power plant where electricity is generated and not where the car is located.

The electric car is no better than the conventional automobile in terms of its eco-friendliness. Check out this interview of Vinod Khosla. He echoes the same point of view at the 28 minute mark.


UNFI to Utilize Green Power at New Texas Distribution Facility

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UNFI

United Natural Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: UNFI), a leading national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and related products, has extended its commitment to utilizing renewable energy by purchasing 6,200 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity and renewable energy from EcoElectrons Renewable Energy for its new Lancaster, TX distribution facility. The renewable energy purchase is expected to reduce carbon emissions at its Lancaster facility by approximately 4,500 metric tons, the equivalent of nearly 10,400 barrels of oil, and complements UNFI's effort to obtain LEED(R) (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the 590,000 square foot facility. EcoElectrons Renewable Energy specializes in supplying green power to organizations through renewable energy credits.

The renewable energy purchased by UNFI is certified by Green-e Energy, a leading renewable energy certification program in the U.S. Green-e provides independent, third-party certification to ensure renewable energy meets strict environmental and consumer protection standards.

Lisa M. Madsen, UNFI's Director, Sustainability & Philanthropy, commented, "Throughout our organization we remain deeply committed to implementing environmentally sustainable practices. By successfully collaborating with EcoElectrons at ourLancaster facility, we're able to reinforce our long-term focus to reduce our ecological footprint by utilizing green power and technologies."

UNFI produces over 2 million kilowatt hours of clean energy annually through solar electric systems installed at its Rocklin, CAand Dayville, CT facilities. It also utilizes 100% Green Power in its Ridgefield, WA distribution facility and is also member of the EPA's Green Power Partnership. This voluntary program encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use.

"UNFI's purchase of renewable energy credits is a terrific complement to the organization's existing Green initiatives including on-site solar power generation," said Rahul Chitrapu, Chief Executive of EcoElectrons. "We are very excited about UNFI's renewable energy purchase and the standard it sets amongst companies thinking about a sustainability strategy."

UNFI joins a growing list of companies and organizations that are taking tangible action to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions from their electricity use. Electricity generated from renewable sources results in less environmental pollution, and displaces conventional fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas from the electric grid. Currently, renewable energy accounts for only three percent of total electricity generation across U.S. UNFI's deployment of electricity generated from nearly emissions-free renewable sources avoids greenhouse gas emissions and serves to build the market for renewable energy, while increasing incentives for building new facilities.

UNFI's Lancaster, TX distribution center is currently scheduled to commence operations during September, 2010 and is strategically located 15 miles south of downtown Dallas at the intersection of Interstates 20 and 35. It will support UNFI customers and retailers throughout the Southwest including TexasOklahomaNew MexicoArkansas and Louisiana.

About United Natural Foods Inc.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (www.unfi.com) carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to more than 23,000 customer locations in the United States and Canada. The Company serves a wide variety of retail formats including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the food service channel. United Natural Foods, Inc. was ranked by Forbes in 2005 as one of the "Best Managed Companies in America," ranked by Fortune in 2006 - 2010 as one of its "Most Admired Companies," winner of the Supermarket News 2008 Sustainability Excellence Award, and recognized by the Nutrition Business Journal for its 2009 Environment and Sustainability Award.

About EcoElectrons Renewable Energy

EcoElectrons helps organizations reduce their environmental footprint by supplying renewable electricity through Green-e certified Renewable Energy Credits. To learn more, visit www.ecoelectrons.com.

About Green-e Energy

Green-e, a non-profit, provides forward-thinking organizations with a simple, nationally recognized tool they can use to communicate their commitment to renewable energy to their customers and stakeholders. Green-e is the nation's leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy in the retail market. To learn more, visit. www.green-e.org/

via PR Newswire


How imminent is peak oil?

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Peak Oil

Peak oil is the point in time when global oil production reaches its maximum and enters into a permanent decline. The peak oil year of United States was 1970. It was accurately predicted by M. King Hubbert in 1956. According to Hubbert peak theory, the rate of oil production in any region tends to follow a bell-shaped curve. 

While the peak oil year for the world as a whole is a matter of intense debate, there have been numerous predictions over the years. The two variables that make the peak oil year tough to estimate is demand for oil (effected by population growth and economic development of countries like India and China) and technological advances. For instance, Canada has the world's largest deposits of oil sands. Not all of it is accessible however. But technological advances increase the amount under human reach year after year. 

Nevertheless, the predictions continue to roll out. A recent study by a German Military Think Tank leaked to the internet states that there is "some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010." If peak oil is in fact imminent, there will be very serious economic consequences - one other reason to support renewable energy. 

Photo credit: adpowers


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Seventh Generation Goes to Walmart

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Seventh Generation goes to Walmart

Seventh Generation is the U.S.’s leading eco-friendly household products brand. Based in Burlington, Vermont, Seventh Generation has made a commitment to both green living and green business for the past twenty years. From making products without toxic chemicals to educating consumers about how their individual choices make a difference, Seventh Generation works hard to live up to its environmental mission each day.

Walmart has shifted its direction to be much more aware of its environmental impact. For the past five years, Walmart has focused their energies on reducing waste and energy consumption and on carrying more sustainable products. Walmart now insists on certain environmental ethics and standards from all of its suppliers. It seems like a natural transition that as Walmart tries to become more environmentally friendly and to offer more ecologically sound products to its consumers that it would want to carry one of the best eco brands.

For a long time, Seventh Generation avoided any association with the largest retailer in the world. But when Walmart began to incorporate sustainable business practices into their mission, Seventh Generation co-founder Jeffrey Hollender saw a way to make his products accessible to a wider audience and to potentially make a big difference in educating people about living in greater harmony with our planet.

Walmart has asked Seventh Generation, the Environmental Defense Fund, and others to help in their mission to become a model of green business practices. They are starting to screen the products they sell in order to avoid stocking items that contain harmful chemicals. They plan to gradually introduce Seventh Generation’s green household products to their stores, with a full offering available through Walmart.com this fall.

Phot via joshspoon


Why Does Green Power Cost More Than Conventional Power?

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Wind turbine

Most green electricity costs just a couple of cents more per kilowatt hour to produce than traditional energy, according to many sources. One advantage that green power has over fossil-fuel based energy sources is that most renewable sources are not subject to fluctuating fuel prices. It does not actually cost any money to get energy from the sun, the water, or the wind. The money is spent investing in the technology and infrastructure necessary to harness that energy efficiently and distribute it to power customers.

Some people are resistant to a switch to green power, because it involves a large investment up front, and we already have the existing infrastructure to produce energy in a conventional manner. However, many people are starting to see that the investment in green power is the investment in a premium product, the energy of the future. Climate change, oil spills, and coal mining disasters continue to remind us that the old way is not always the best way.

Some governments around the world are encouraging green power country-wide. In other places, it is up to people to choose for themselves. Individuals and businesses can easily purchase green power in a variety of ways. In the U.S, some utility companies offer the option of investing in more renewable energy sources. Power customers around the U.S. pay upwards of 0.2 cents extra per kilowatt hour to their utility company if they wish to participate in purchasing green power in addition to paying their usual utility bill.

Other people do not have the option of purchasing green power through their utility company, or perhaps they prefer to consider purchasing certified green energy through organizations such as Green-e, Eco Electrons, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership.

One advantage of purchasing green power and becoming a member of the Green Power Partnership is good publicity for businesses and organizations. For example, the U.S. EPA has just released this year’s top purchasers of renewable energy. According to a publicity email from the EPA, “The top 10 on the list are Intel Corporation, Kohl’s Department Stores, Whole Foods Market, City of Houston, Dell Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Cisco Systems, Inc., Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, U.S. Air Force, and the City of Dallas.” It might cost a little more money, but these sustainable businesses and localities are now seen as environmental leaders based on their commitment to green energy use. 

Sustainable Business Tip: Get Green Recognition

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Lenovo and its green efforts

Lenovo, a computer company based in Hong Kong, has just gained recognition for their green business efforts by being chosen as one of 30 companies to be a member of a new Hong Kong and China corporate Sustainability Index. Energy efficiency, recycling, and carbon emissions have long been on the mind of Lenovo as they have continued to incorporate sustainable business practices into their global company. Such recognition makes environmentally aware consumers more likely to turn to companies such as Lenovo (or Dell or Hitachi) for their green technology needs.

Not all sustainable companies will be sought out for this kind of recognition and publicity. Many companies need to be proactive in sharing their green business practices in order to increase customer interest.

Purchasing green power that is Green-e certified is one way to get recognition for corporate sustainability. The US EPA’s Green Power Partnership is another organization that offers support and publicity to companies that wish to shrink their carbon footprint while boosting business. Green companies that are at the forefront of environmentally friendly business practices might even win Green Power Leadership Awards.

Businesses seeking a market share with green consumers should also consider launching promotional programs for Earth Day or Earth Month each April, detailing their eco-business practices on their websites, and coming up with innovative green products such as PepsiCo’s compostable SunChips bags. Continue to improve your business’s environmental policies while coming up with new ideas for getting publicity and gaining customer interest.


Get green powered and lower your energy costs

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Get green powered and lower energy costs

 

Renewable Energy or Green Power is the solution to some major challenges like climate change, dependency on foreign oil and sustainable economic development thatface us today. Consumers have become sophisticated enough to realize this and they have started to support only those businesses that have sustainability built into their core values. Getting your organization green powered is thus not only the right thing to do but it makes sense from a business standpoint. Businesses are also realizing this as can be seen from the dramatic increase over the last few years in renewable energy purchases made specifically by commercial parties.

Due to deregulation of the electricity markets in select states, it is now possible for organizations in such states to run on green power while they cut down on energy costs. Our new whitepaper gives the reader some background on green power, its benefits to business and how an organization in deregulated electricity markets can go green while realizing energy savings at the same time.

Click here to download the whitepaper and learn how organizations can go green while realizing energy savings.


Solar Powered Plane Triumphs

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Solar Plane

A lightweight solar-powered plane set records for flying for 26 hours nonstop over Switzerland. The plane averaged a ground speed of 26 miles per hour and reached speeds as high as 78 miles per hour. The plane set records for the longest and highest flight by a solar plane, reaching over 28,000 feet above sea level.

The Solar Impulse plane used 12,000 solar panels to power propellers and four small electric engines. The plane charged during the day and used the stored power to continue to fly through the night. In theory, such a plane could stay aloft indefinitely. Its 208 foot wingspan equals that of a standard jetliner, but this mode of travel is not quite ready for consumer travel yet.

Retired Swiss fighter pilot Andre Borschberg squeezed into the vehicle’s tiny cockpit where he experienced both turbulence and subzero temperatures which caused his water to freeze and his iPod batteries to die. Despite these difficulties, Mr. Borschberg said, “I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career.”

Solar power is a renewable energy source which is growing in popularity worldwide as a source for green power for homes and businesses. Solar power has also been used experimentally to power some cars and commercially to power some boats. Swiss engineers have come up with a car, the Solartaxi, that uses both electricity and solar power to successfully travel on roads worldwide. Solar powered aircrafts are not nearly as common as other modes of transportation.

Project founders for the Solar Impulse airplane next hope to successfully fly a solar powered plane around the world.

Photo via Deutsche Bank AG


Green Shipping with UPS

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Green Shipping with UPS resized 600

Demand for sustainable products and services worldwide continues to expand. Green businesses are thinking in new ways about how to protect the planet and satisfy their customers at the same time. UPS began a carbon neutral shipping program last fall to serve customers who wish to pay a little extra to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from shipping their packages. UPS was the first package delivery service to offer this kind of green shipping option.

This popular program has now expanded to UPS locations across the United States, online, and around the world. For only 75 cents, a customer can ship a package carbon free from the United States to any international location. Domestically, the optional surcharge is as low as five cents for customers to ship their packages without pollution or guilt. In 2010, customer purchases of offsets will go twice as far, since UPS will match their investments.

UPS currently purchases carbon offets from the Garcia River Forest Climate Action Project. This organization is overseen by The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund to ensure its validity as a provider of reliable carbon offsets. It is important for businesses and consumers to purchase offsets or renewable energy credits that are certified or verified. UPS also plans to support other offset projects worldwide.

Offering a simple and inexpensive way for customers to feel better about the sustainability of their purchases is an excellent idea for any business to increase business and improve customer satisfaction

Photo via Justinls


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