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World Solar Power Topped 100,000 Megawatts in 2012

By J. Matthew Roney The world installed 31,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012—an all-time annual high that pushed global PV capacity above 100,000 megawatts. There is now enough PV operating to meet the household electricity needs of nearly 70 million people at the European level of use. While PV production has become increasingly concentrated in one country—China—the number of countries installing PV is growing rapidly. In 2006, only a handful of countries could boast solar capacity of 100 megawatts or more. Now 30 countries are on that list, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects will more than …

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Busy beavers building natural carbon storage

Outside of humans, beavers have more impact on landscapes than virtually any other species. Building dams and changing streams, they well deserve their busy reputation. Now a new study reveals those hardworking animals not only build dams but biocarbon storage as well. Ellen Wohl of Colorado State University reports her findings in an article accepted for Geophysical Research Letters, “Landscape-scale carbon storage associated with Beaver Dams.” Laurence Pope of New Scientist summarizes the findings: “Beaver dams cause water to breach riverbanks, creating areas of wetland known as beaver meadows, which contain large amounts of sediment and organic material. If the …

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Walking for Our Grandchildren

From Friday, July 19th to Saturday, July 27th, through high heat, humidity, lightning storms and more, scores of people walked from Camp David to Harpers Ferry to the White House. Some walked the entire route, about 100 miles. This was an historic Walk for Our Grandchildren (http://2013walkforourgrandchildren.org) as part of 350.org's Summer Heat campaign. On the 26th 55 people were arrested inside the corporate office building in downtown DC which houses the office of Environmental Resources Management. ERM is the company which did the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the State Department on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. …

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Irony and Idiocy

Sometimes I can only shake my head at the irony of our species calling itself Homo Sapiens, meaning “wise man”, given the sheer idiocy of so many of our actions. Fellow Grist contributor John Upton just posted a report on the massive and ongoing tar sands oil spill near Cold Lake Alberta.   Nobody seems to know how to stop it because it is the result of a relatively new process of pressurizing underground oil reserves.  In this process thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam are injected deep underground.  This liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which it …

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“Pennies for Wendy’s”

http://youtu.be/KsLXI_2Xypc Wendy's is the biggest holdout among the fast food giants who refuses to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes on condition that growers treat workers with a minimum of fairness. This , payment to workers at least equal to the minimum wage, time clocks, a third party grievance procedure. By refusing to join Wendy's saves costs of less than a penny per meal. So a group of us collected pennies at a local Olympia festival as charity to Wendy's so they can afford to do the right thing.

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Taking the Scare Out of Scarceonomics

Global population hit 7 billion well ahead of most predictions. The UN now forecasts that we will share the planet -- and its increasingly scarce natural resources -- with about 10 billion fellow humans by 2050. Even more sobering are the numbers of people moving from ultra-low water-food-energy footprints to the middle class in China, India, Africa and South America, setting new records for buying everything from cars and groceries to homes and lawn flamingoes. Welcome to a not-too-distant future of “scarceonomics”. By now we’ve all read reports about fisheries collapsing; predictions that world-wide demand for freshwater will exceed supply …

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The Community Solar ‘Holy Grail’?

Has a Carbondale, CO, company found the 'holy grail' of community renewable energy projects? In this podcast with with Paul Spencer, President and founder of the Clean Energy Collective (CEC) in Carbondale, CO, we explored how CEC is pioneering the process of delivering clean power-generation through medium-scale (mostly solar) facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. Local Energy Rules podcast, Ep. 6: Play in new window | Download | Embed “From the outset, we really strived to find something that was going to be widely applicable,” Paul says in the interview. It’s no easy task. Many other community solar …

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Fossil Fuel Use Pushes Carbon Dioxide Emissions into Dangerous Territory

By Emily E. Adams Increasing global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, are pushing the world into dangerous territory, closing the window of time to avert the worst consequences of higher temperatures, such as melting ice and rising seas. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have grown exponentially. Despite wide agreement by governments on the need to limit emissions, the rate of increase ratcheted up from less than 1 percent each year in the 1990s to almost 3 percent annually in the first decade of this century. After a short dip …

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Less than 1 percent of tar-sands environmental infractions penalized

A new report out today finds that enforcement of environmental infractions by companies in the Alberta oil sands are 17 times lower than similar infractions reported to the United State's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report [PDF], authored by the environmental nonprofit Global Forest Watch, looked at more than 15 years of data on recorded environmental mishaps by oil sand's companies, tracking the follow-up actions taken and the final verdict on fines. The findings are shocking and come at a very inconvenient time for government and industry supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would greatly increase tar sands processing and shipments to …

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Protecting Our Water from Coal Pollution

Think about this: Have you spent a day out on the water this summer? Swimming? Fishing? Boating? Well believe it or not, for decades, power plants have been allowed to dump toxic pollution into our nation's waterways, with almost no limits. Coal plants have become by far the largest source of toxic water pollution in the country! If you're like me and love to take your family swimming, fishing, and boating, you know how much is at stake. (Click the graphic at the left to see more details) Today the Sierra Club joined a coalition in releasing a report (PDF) …

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