Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Today's sustainability indicator, 18,777 gigawatt hours, is the average monthly electricity generated from non-hydro renewable energy in the U.S. That supplies about 5.8 percent of the country's electricity needs, compared with 3.1 percent in 2008.
This month's indicators:
213: current measure of the UN's World Food Price Index.
210: the price threshold associated with a sharp rise in social unrest and food riots.
50 percent: world transport fuels replaceable by converting 17.5% of farm waste to biofuel.
1.32 million square miles: Arctic sea ice this month, the least in 33 years of satellite records.
18 percent: decrease from the previous record-low Arctic ice, which was recorded in 2007.
330: consecutive months that global temperatures have been above the 20th century average.
626 million: people in India who still defecate in the open, contributing to superbugs.
251 million: people who gained improved sanitation in the country from 1990 to 2010.
67%: return from a portfolio based on the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index since 2006.
31%: return of the Leadership Index's Global 500 peers during the same period.
1,079: jobs created by the average U.S. wind farm.
75,000: total workers currently employed by U.S. wind power industry.
78%: polled investors who recognize that climate change is a threat to the environment.
"Not much": anticipated impact on profits from reducing pollution, said half of respondents.
75%: world's surface that experienced unusually hot summers each year over the last decade.
33%: world's surface with hot summers in the baseline years from 1951 to 1980.
81%:U.S. energy demands met from domestic sources last year.
2: decades elapsed since the U.S. was similarly energy self-sufficient.
59%: proportion of emissions-reductions efforts that pay for themselves in 3 years.
$10 billion: annual savings on U.S. electric bills from new lightbulb standards.
30: large power plants it takes to produce electricity equivalent to the lightbulb savings.
63%: surge in new solar capacity added in Europe last year.
57%: potential decline in new solar capacity in 2012 amid economic uncertainty.
$71 billion: investment by oil industry to develop low-emission biofuels in the last decade.
$43 billion: investment by U.S. government over the same duration.
170 degrees Fahrenheit: reading on traditional black rooftops on NYC's hottest day last year.
42 degrees: temperature reduction reached by energy-efficient white roofs.
2 million: premature deaths each year from cooking with primitive stoves or open fires
#2: rank of indoor pollution from stoves among environment health risks, after unsafe water.
$1.4 trillion: spending by people over age 60 in Japan last year as the population ages.
23.3%: record proportion of Japanese population over age 65.
1.7 billion metric tons: CO2 pollution saved by the 20-year-old Energy Star program.
2 years: time it takes to generate that much pollution from electricity to all U.S. homes.
1/3: proportion of world's antibiotics consumed in India, where new superbugs were found.
35.3 gigawatts: North Sea offshore wind capacity projected by 2020.
3.2%: EU electricity demand supplied by 35.3 gigawatts.
2.5 billion: people worldwide who don't have bank accounts, which can reduce poverty
16%: banking done by mobile phones in Sub-Sahara Africa, where bank access is limited.
Charlotte, host to this week's Democratic National Convention, has been growing quickly the last decade, ranking 13th among the fastest-growing 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. To adapt to its success, the city now works sustainability into its overall development strategy.
Mayor Anthony Foxx has made sustainability a priority in transportation, energy, health, water and green space, since he started his term at the end of 2009. The city spells out these initiatives on its website, noting that "Sustainability is a term that is used a lot, but many people don't know what it really is."
Amid a presidential campaign that's studiously avoiding the whole topic, Californians are launching the world's second largest "cap-and-trade" program for ratcheting down industrial greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters.
It's a development worth chewing over before next week's Global Climate Change Forum, a Carbon Disclosure Project event that will be moderated by Diane Brady of Bloomberg Businessweek and broadcast on Bloomberg.com.
Major droughts in the U.S. Corn Belt occur roughly once each generation. They penetrate not only agriculture, but pop culture as well.
The last great drought before this year came in 1988. The disaster caused $78 billion of damage in today’s dollars, and it ended a wave of ‘80s farm foreclosures that marked the worst farm economy since the Great Depression. John Mellencamp's music and Farm Aid concerts were hallmarks of that era. “Rain on the Scarecrow” and “Small Town” became radio-friendly Heartland Rock anthems played at county fairs and in major arenas. Those songs still get airplay today, and Farm Aid continues. The 28th Farm Aid benefit concert will be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in September.
Resources are all the rage. With the world population headed toward 9 billion people by 2050, from 7 billion today, companies and governments are eager to ensure they have access to strategic and industrial materials, now and for all time. The problem is that resources are becoming more expensive as the global middle class expands and is able to buy more stuff. The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index (now the Standard & Poor's GSCI) has risen by about 3.5 times between early 1991, when it launched, and today (It closed at 670.51 on Friday). Greater competition for fewer resources doesn't mean that everything is at risk of running out next week, or even "peaking." If these trends continue, it does mean that prices are likely to continue their ascent in the long term.
Global companies find themselves increasingly in dialog with civil-society organizations focused on the resource race. The World Resources Institute (WRI), a research organization based in Washington, DC, this year observes its 30th anniversary. And last week, it installed its third president, Andrew Steer, a U.K. economist who joins WRI after serving as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank. We spoke by phone last week about resource scarcity and climate change.
Tropical Storm Isaac, currently blowing northwest through the Caribbean Sea, is forecast to pass Florida’s western coast on Monday and Tuesday – just as delegates, public officials, media and observers open the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Thousands of people are traveling to the region this weekend. They might be asking themselves, how do facility builders and owners know if the convention center and hotels can hold?
Every year, Americans discard about 300 million tires. That’s about a third of the 1 billion thrown out worldwide. About half of those are burned for fuel, which is just slightly better than landfilling. The rest end up in playgrounds, mulch for gardens or in berms along highways.
Lehigh Technologies wants America’s scrap rubber. The nine-year-old company has raised more than $50 million for processors that collect it, freeze it and shatter it into bits. ``Think of it as a jet engine with teeth,'' said Chief Executive Officer Alan Barton, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University.
The buttery porterhouse that Peter Luger steakhouse has served up since 1887 may be the next victim of the U.S. drought.
Steer that would normally be fattened and aged to produce the highest-grade steaks are instead being killed young and thin.
During the fireworks and record heat of Independence Week, Duke Energy closed its $26 billion merger with rival Progress Energy, creating the nation’s largest electric utility. Progress CEO William D. Johnson was to lead the expanded company—but just hours after the deal closed, the Board hastily installed Duke chairman and CEO James E. Rogers as chief executive of the merged company.
Jim Rogers is no stranger to headlines and he has made a lot of them since he emerged several years ago as the unlikeliest of species: CEO of a coal-generated power company who sought a U.S. climate policy.
Power is restored in India, which experienced the worst blackouts in the history of human-generated electricity. An estimated 360 million people lost power on July 30. The next day, over 600 million people were blacked out. With the lights back on, now it’s time to restore the credibility of the sector and the country.
Scores of recommendations have been put forward to prevent this catastrophe in the future. Thermal power producers prescribe ramping up coal-fired power. Clean energy advocates suggest using distributed renewable sources, because coal-generated power causes greenhouse gas emissions and uses a lot of water, which is in short supply. Industry analysts and financial institutions recommend raising electricity prices in line with the underlying fuel costs. Demand to privatize the financially distraught state-owned power distribution companies -- called “discoms” -- is back in the newspaper editorials as well.