MEXICO CITY — “Solar trees” have sprouted in Mexico City’s historic district.
Three solar-powered lampposts shaped like towering palms are illuminating a pedestrian street downtown, thanks to the technology of a company called Energetika and a city pilot program experimenting with renewable energy sources.
Solar panel discs bloom at the end of 16-foot fronds. When charged with six hours of sunlight, they can shine for nearly 10 hours straight.
20 December 2010 – A project executed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in West Africa has succeeded in slashing the use of toxic pesticides, increasing yields and incomes, and diversifying farming systems.
Around 100,000 farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal are participating in the community-driven training programme, which promotes good agricultural practices through small groups called Farmer Field Schools.
In 2002, two neighbors armed with spades and seeds changed everything for crime-addled Quesada Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point area. The street had been ground zero for the area’s drug trade and its attendant violence. But when Annette Smith and Karl Paige began planting flowers on a small section of the trash-filled median strip, Quesada Gardens Initiative was born. Over the course of the next decade, the community-enrichment project profoundly altered the face of this once-blighted neighborhood.
Jeffrey Betcher is the Initiative’s unlikely spokesperson. A gay white man driven to the majority-black area by the high cost of housing elsewhere, he moved into a house on Quesada Avenue in 1998 to find drug dealers selling from his front stoop and addicts sleeping beneath his stairs. He told me about the day that he returned home from work to discover that his neighbor Annette had planted a little corner of his yard.
Details of weather records taken from monks’ diaries are helping scientists verify Europe’s climate over 500 years. Researchers hope the study will help improve climate forecasts.
Scientists compared data from historic sources, such as weather station archives and harvest records.They found the records match closely to computer simulations of climate patterns over the past 500 years, which were created using contemporary data.
The simulated data took account of minor influences on the weather. These include volcanic activity, variations in the sun’s temperature and – more recently – an increase in greenhouse gases. Scientists say that because the two sets of data match, these additional factors affecting temperature are more important for explaining past climate in Europe than was previously realised.
Atlanta (CNN) — That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might now be helping poor children fight disease.
Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead of ending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland.
“I was shocked just to know how much (soap) at the end of the day was thrown away,” Kayongo said. Each year, hundreds of millions of soap bars are discarded in North America alone. “Are we really throwing away that much soap at the expense of other people who don’t have anything? It just doesn’t sound right.”
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Three of China’s biggest cities are helping consumers pay for a range of electric cars, heeding calls to encourage the sale of green vehicles that the government sees helping tackle pollution.
China’s smoggy skies topped the agenda at the annual parliamentary session this year, while Premier Li Keqiang in January demonstrated the importance of green cars by visiting a factory of BYD Co Ltd , maker of the e6 pure electric car.
The government wants to put 10 times more e-cars on the road by next year but traffic management is under the remit of local authorities, and many cities including the polluted capital of Beijing have not had the framework to deem the vehicles roadworthy.
India’s transformation into a cleantech powerhouse moved up a gear in 2011 when it racked up investments of $10.3bn in the sector, a growth rate of 52 per cent year on year that dwarfed the rest of the world’s significant economies.
Solar investments led the growth with a seven-fold increase in funding, from $0.6bn in 2010 to $4.2bn in 2011, just below the $4.6bn invested in wind during the year, according to figures released yesterday by analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
A record 2,827MW of wind energy capacity was added in 2011, which kept India third behind China and the US in terms of new installations. BNEF said a further 2,500MW to 3,200MW could be added in 2012.
Among the 131 power projects approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) from the first half of the year, wind power accounts for 95 percent of the approved projects, reported Securities Daily on Monday.
According to the report, with 32 approved power projects, China Huadian Corporation topped the five major power groups.
An industry insider close to Huadian claimed that, at present, the profitability of domestic wind power is relatively good. Depending on the conditions of the new generating units, Huadian will focus on wind power development in the next few years.
Five nations in Africa have come together to create the world’s largest conservation area for wildlife.
Elephants have no respect for lines on a map, especially the artificial national boundaries established by Europeans after carving up Africa into colonial empires. But national boundaries have kept elephants and many other animals cooped up in southern Africa.
We are delighted to hear the plans to build a National Park in China to help save the Siberian Tiger.
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Australia moved to set up the world’s biggest marine park on Friday to protect vast areas of the Coral Sea off the country’s northeast coast and the site of fierce naval battles during World War Two.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said the park would cover almost 1 million square km — an area the size of France and Germany combined — and would help protect fish, pristine coral reefs and nesting sites for sea birds and the green turtle.
“The environmental significance of the Coral Sea lies in its diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and canyons,” Burke said. “It contains more than 20 outstanding examples of isolated tropical reefs, sandy cays and islands.”
Using plant-based, fully renewable resources, the company plans to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
For years, scientists and inventors have offered up futuristic alternatives to the resource-intensive plastic packaging clogging up our landfills and recycling bins. And for just as many years, practical environmentalists have said that these designs are all well and good, but until the day they’re used in mainstream commercial production, their impact will be minuscule.
It appears that day may not be as far away as we thought.