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Environmental News Network - Commentary





 



A High-Risk Energy Boom Sweeps Across North America

Mon, 11 Oct 2010 12:19:00 EST

Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom. The most direct path to America's newest big oil and gas fields is U.S. Highway 12, two lanes of blacktop that unfold from Grays Harbor in Washington State and head east across the top of the country to Detroit. The 2,500-mile route has quickly become an essential supply line for the energy industry. With astonishing speed, U.S. oil companies, Canadian pipeline builders, and investors from all over the globe are spending huge sums in an economically promising and ecologically risky race to open the next era of hydrocarbon development. As domestic U.S. pools of conventional oil and gas dwindle, energy companies are increasingly turning to “unconventional” fossil fuel reserves contained in the carbon rich-sands and deep shales of Canada, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain West.(image)



Majority of Executives and Consumers Think Businesses Not Committed To Sustainability

Wed, 22 Sep 2010 09:27:00 EST

The majority of executives and consumers polled in a survey in July do not think the majority of businesses are committed to "going green." Only 29 percent of executives and 16 percent of consumers polled think that the majority of businesses are committed to "going green." Almost half (45 percent) of executives and 48 percent of consumers think that only "some" are businesses committed to sustainability. Harris Interactive polled 2,605 U.S. adults over 18 years old, and 304 Fortune 1000 executives for Gibbs & Soell Public Relations. Gibbs & Soell is the eighth largest independent public relations agency in the U.S.(image)



Water Crisis in Asia

Tue, 24 Aug 2010 06:49:00 EST

As the contradictions of Asia’s water challenges have been laid bare this summer—with millions affected by flooding while others are hit by droughts—one thing has been made clearer: the coming water crisis could exacerbate already simmering domestic and regional tensions. Heavy monsoon rains have produced the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, with more than three weeks of flooding leaving at least 1,500 dead and more than 4 million homeless. Millions of Pakistanis already require humanitarian assistance, yet the likelihood that many more could be added to this list has grown with the announcement that 200,000 have been evacuated as flood waters continue to rise in Singh Province in the country’s south. Meanwhile, flash floods and mudslides have submerged some villages in China’s Gansu Province, killing hundreds and leaving more than a thousand missing. Today, Chinese state media announced 250,000 had been evacuated in the north of the country after the Yalu River burst its banks.(image)



LEED Building Standards Fail to Protect Human Health

Mon, 16 Aug 2010 10:54:00 EST

The LEED program — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is playing an increasingly important role in the drive to make buildings in the United States greener and more energy efficient. LEED is now the most prominent and widely adopted green building certification program in the country, with architects and developers striving to earn LEED’s coveted platinum or gold rating, and an increasing number of local, state, and federal regulations beginning to incorporate LEED standards into official building codes. But LEED — sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, an industry group — has a glaring and little-known drawback: It places scant emphasis on factors relating to human health, even as the largely unregulated use of potentially toxic building materials continues to expand. One of LEED's major accomplishments — saving energy by making buildings more airtight — has had the paradoxical effect of more effectively trapping the gases emitted by the unprecedented number of chemicals used in today’s building materials and furnishings.(image)



OPINION: Sanitation Too Often Overlooked in Developing Nations

Mon, 09 Aug 2010 11:07:00 EST

For most of us, finding a bathroom or toilet isn't hard. Chances are it's not more than a short walk away - you may even be there now. For 2.5 billion people around the world, however, it isn't that easy. Their bathroom is likely shared, has no running water and is a walk from their house. And you thought port-a-potties were bad. The lack of access to sanitation is a huge challenge to the 1 billion people living in urban slums in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The dangers of inadequate sanitation infrastructure are well known - contaminated drinking water and disease transmission become difficult to avoid.(image)



Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles

Mon, 02 Aug 2010 11:32:00 EST

The new generation of electric cars that are set to hit the market promise to help end the world's dependence on fossil fuels and clean the air. However, they are not without flaws. One particular flaw in their charging system may even make them less environmentally friendly than the most fuel efficient conventional cars. A new technology by the company Evatran, uses induction charging to automatically keep the car's batteries at full charge. Drivers would just have to park over the base unit that is fitted to the floor and an intelligent control system in the vehicle will request charging.(image)



Here Come the Electric Cars: "Leaf" and "Volt"

Sat, 31 Jul 2010 12:01:00 EST

Here's an article from Triple Pundit talking about the launch of two new electric cars: the Nissan "Leaf" (eco-friendly name, huh) and the GM "Volt." Read the article and let us know - would you buy either of these two vehicles? The Plug-In 2010 Conference in San Jose was the site of major announcements by major auto manufacturers Nissan and General Motors. During their Tuesday morning speeches, both Nissan North America’s executive vice president, Carlos Tavares, and General Motors vice president of U.S. marketing, Joel Ewanick, announced that their much-anticipated products would be available in only a limited number of cities, at first, and that both companies will begin delivering cars by the end of the year. Even though there are many similarities and differences, both Nissan and GM are betting that U.S. auto buyers will embrace the plug with open arms. The Leaf and the Volt are the first mass-market plug-in electric vehicles to be sold in the U.S. The LEAF is a “pure” battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, and has no gasoline motor whatsoever. Its range is approximately 100 miles. The Volt, however, with an “all-electric” range of only 40 miles, augments its smaller battery pack with a gas motor that can recharge the battery while the vehicle is in motion. While this gives the Volt unlimited effective range, it means that the Volt is not truly "zero emissions".(image)