Earth Saving News > June 28, 2011Scary news about our oceans.
Ocean ecosystems are in even worse shape than previously thought, according to a new report released last week. Scientists are now predicting that unless we take immediate action, coral reefs and entire marine species are doomed to disappear within a generation.
Why is this happening? The report’s authors, convened at the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), point to several contributing factors: rising water temperatures, melting sea ice, ocean acidification, over fishing, water pollution, hypoxia (low oxygen) and habitat loss.
The panel warned that similar conditions were present during past mass extinctions in Earth’s history. But while scientists have been concerned about the state of the oceans for some time (and even about a sixth mass extinction), this new report has them shocked. “It was a more dire report than any of us thought …When you put (all the issues) together, it’s a pretty bleak situation,” co-author Carl Lundin said.
While tackling the issues facing our oceans seems overwhelming, the IPSO researchers have laid out a game plan for turning around the grim predictions. This includes mapping and reducing ocean pollutants, making sharp reductions in greenhouse emissions, and putting an end to exploitative fishing.
The challenges for solar power to gain widespread adoption is to have the cost of solar power achieve grid parity. This means that the cost of power generation through solar panel is equal to the cost of electricity generation from the grid. To reach grid parity, there must be sufficient market support and government incentives to spur entrepreneurs and company to continue to invest to upgrade the technology so that the cost of manufacturing solar panels continue to go down. The key challenges for solar power include:
Shortage in supply of silicon materials.
Silicon is critical for the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells. The limited supply and increasing cost of silicon raw material increases the cost of manufacturing. If the selling price of solar panels increases, the adoption of solar power will be slow. One of the greatest loss is in the waste associated with sawing silicon during conventional silicon wafer production technology. This loss, known as kerf loss determines the cost of manufacturing. If it can be reduced by more efficient process, it can cut down the use of silicon.
Renewable energy especially solar power is subsidized heaviiy by government in several countries including Spain and Germany. It is this incentives and tax breaks provided that makes it cost efficient to adopt solar power. Any reduction or elimination of incentives can lead to a hindrance in growth of the PV industry. Recently, Germany is proposing to speed up the reduction of this incentive. Such news can easily cause the solar industry to scramble for help.
Solar cells onthe whole are still not very efficient. They convert about 10-15% of the sunlight that falls on it. Better technology that leads to better conversion can increase the output and thus lower the overall cost of electricity production.
Recycling really does make a difference. From 1990 to 2005, recycling efforts helped decrease the amount of trash going to US landfills by 9 million ton. This is data supplied by the Environmental Protection Agency. We can help the effort by focusing on 3 simple tips: recycle, reduce and reuse.
Besides newspapers, cans and bottle, you can also recycle magazines, glossy inserts, "junk mail" and phone books. When you are cleaning up and organizing your bills, you can also recycle those bills and receipts though you might want to shred them first to prevent identity theft. Your pizza boxes, diaper box, Amazon cardboard boxes and paper cartons such as orange juice carton, milk cartons can also be recycled. Electronics goods such as cell phones and computers can also be recycled though they may be harder to do so via your standard Waste Management Company. You can try CollectiveGood.com to recycle your PDAs, phones and pagers.
US is the greatest paper consumer as Americans uses more than 730 pounds of paper a year. One way to reduce is in the office and you can set your printer to print double side by default. Also, for non important document, you can use the blank side of old documents for scrap paper. These days, most major companies offer online statements and by avoiding paper statements sent to your home, you can help save a lot.
Reusing help minimize wastes. Get creative with what you got in terms of reusing. You can use plastic shopping bags as thrash bag instead of buying new thrash bags. Also, paper bags can be used to collect yard waste to be recycled as compost materials.
Saving Earth one light at a time
UNEPThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) claims a complete switch to energy efficient lights in the developing world would reduce about 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
The first Country Lighting Assessments, released during the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Cancún, Mexico, estimates the reduced carbon emissions if 100 countries adopt efficient lighting technologies in place of energy-intensive candescent lamps.
According to the report, part of en.lighten, a UNEP project that aims to promote use of energy saving lights in the developing world, artificial lighting accounts for 19% of global electricity consumption or 6% to 8% of all greenhouse gases emissions.
"The fact is that the world cannot afford to lose any more [energy] due to inefficient technology. And now, even though energy efficient technology does exist or can be quickly made available, such technologies are not applied to sufficient scale yet," said Bernard Jamet, head of the technology transfer unit in the UNEP.
If all Arab states make a complete switch to efficient lighting, the region would decrease its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 16 million tonnes each year. This is the equivalent of shutting 11 medium-sized coal power plants, or taking nearly 4 million cars off the roads.
"It would cost mainly about 3 billion USD to shift all the countries that have not shifted yet," said Jamet. According to the country assessments, China alone could save 5.5 billion USD annually with energy efficient lights
However, a paper published in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics1 in August 2010 argues that switching to the cheaper, more efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) lights will not decrease power consumption, but lead to people using more lighting to create brighter atmospheres, keeping electricity use constant.
According to the paper, data reveals that people have historically spent the same amount of money per capita on lighting. Cheaper lights would allow for brighter lights for longer periods of time. While the shift might not decrease greenhouse gases emissions, it would increase productivity, allow more time for education in the evenings and lead to better living standards, especially in poorer communities.
The en.lighten project, with a 20 million USD four-year budget, promotes high performance, efficient lighting technologies and helps participating countries plan the switch. It also aims to help rural communities that do not have access to electricity to replace kerosene-based lighting with more efficient lights, such as solar-powered LED lights.