Erik Hoffner

Erik Hoffner works for Orion magazine and is also a freelance photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter: @erikhoffner.

Ag giant's Amazon plans go terminal

Why bother filing an EIS for a biodiversity-destroying project?

Ag giant Cargill was forced to close a soy export terminal in the Brazilian Amazon this weekend, marking a major victory for greens, who have argued for years that the plant was built illegally and became a significant cause of rainforest depletion. The terminal spurred a major leap in soy production -- millions of acres of rainforest were turned over to soy bean fields -- which is used principally to supply European livestock farms. Ironically, it was closed not because of the destruction, but because they never submitted an EIS. Mmm, soy.

Is biofuel gasification just hot air?

Or a new way forward?

File this under possibly hopeful news: Researchers at Purdue are calling an approach that gasifies biomass to make liquid fuels a "hybrid hydrogen-carbon process," or H2CAR. Read the article for the straight scoop, but it's basically adding hydrogen to biomass from a "carbon-free" energy source (solar? wind? nukes?), via gasification. The process would be more efficient than current biofuel production because it'd suppress the formation of carbon dioxide and convert all of the carbon atoms to fuel. Is it just hot air? And if this process is powered by nukes, that's a whole new question.

Olympic-sized task

Endangered species and Beijing

China is currently the world's largest consumer of illegal "wildlife products" -- 40 percent of the global market. And that number's only going to grow as its economy strengthens. WildAid has gone to the battlements with its Conservation Awareness program, using the '08 Olympics in Beijing as an opportunity to highlight the need for conservation. They'll be enlisting athletes to educate folks about this issue during the games, and have developed a number of PSAs featuring Chinese and other athletes, on view here.

Energy efficiency <em>and</em> economic growth?

But aren’t those things mutually exclusive?

A hopeful Friday note: a significant downloadable report (PDF) from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. It was just brought to my attention, but it's from 2004. Its message bears repeating: energy efficiency/technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce energy use while supporting economic growth. This European agency estimates that the E.U. could accommodate a 65 percent increase in energy services by 2050, yet simultaneously use two-thirds less energy than today. In the U.S., the estimate is that we could reduce energy demand to one-sixth of our use today through more efficient technologies.

Eight hundred megawatts or salmon?

The damming question

It's been 50 years since Celilo Falls in Oregon was buried by the Dalles Dam to create 800 megawatts of power, but the memory of the great salmon runs lost live on through the tribes who migrated again this year to the spot to mourn the day. Orion Grassroots Network member group Save Our Wild Salmon opined eloquently in the Oregonian this week about the choices our society made for green power.

The idols of environmentalism

A new call to walk the talk

Do environmentalists unwittingly conspire against themselves? Curt White examines the effectiveness of environmental strategies in the new issue of Orion magazine, and wonders why, even when we are trying to aid the environment, we are not willing as individuals to leave the system that we know in our heart of hearts is the cause of our problems.

The power of community

Cuba’s response to its peak oil emergency

The Orion Grassroots Network just screened this new film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil for a capacity crowd, and I'd recommend it to any organizer seeking to stimulate conversation about how to start to getting our communities off of oil.

Local currencies: a grassroots response to globalization

All the cool kids are using BerkShares

Here in southwest Mass. there's a new local currency issued by a nonprofit that's been making a splash with recent stories in the NY Times and on ABC national news. There are 230 businesses accepting BerkShares already, and there are 140,000 in regular circulation.

Green Drinks all year

It’s for more than just leprechauns

No, not the nasty March 17th green beer, nor the greenwashed Budweiser variety: I mean Green Drinks, the green social hour phenomenon now in 197 cities worldwide...