Archives for October, 2012

As evidenced by all the October cable movie marathons, Halloween season is the time when people like to watch scary movies. I tend to watch an inordinate amount of scary movies myself, for reasons I probably don’t want to know. It’s no secret that horror films are often reflections of cultural anxieties, and many a…

While the Northeast recovers from superstorm Sandy, how about a sweet diversion? They’ll be crying out for “trick or treat” tomorrow night, but we all know that’s really just code for “hand over the candy.” And for many, the candy haul is quite substantial. According to epidemiologist Donna Arnett of the University of Alabama at…

At least 6 million people across the mid-Atlantic region are without power Tuesday morning after Hurricane Sandy inundated homes and underground infrastructure, toppled trees and downed power lines. Surreal scenes of a darkened Manhattan emerged after flooding and a substation explosion Monday night knocked out power for most buildings below 39th Street. A statement on…

The number of New York City area residents with no electricity shot up from 4,500 to nearly 350,000 in an eight-hour period Monday, as Hurricane Sandy made landfall just southwest of Atlantic City, N.J. Con Edison said it was forced to shut down power to lower Manhattan as a precautionary measure; the Battery Park area…

Residents and utilities along the East Coast are bracing for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to bring winds up to 90 mph along with heavy rains when it makes landfall Monday. Billed as “Frankenstorm” because of the tropical hurricane’s collision with a cold front from the west, a full moon, and the…

Mike Fay’s exploration of Gabon’s untouched wilderness led to 11 percent of the country being named national park land. This inspired Enric Sala to explore and help protect similarly pristine areas of the ocean around the world. Now the two explorers go back to the beginning to explore the murky waters off the coast of…

A new analysis of American energy use in 2011 shows a shift to higher-efficiency technologies, though most energy use in the United States remains tied to coal, natural gas and petroleum (click here to see an enlarged version). The flow chart analysis, which was released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and was created using…

The European Union is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to data released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) Wednesday. “The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target,” said EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade in a press release. Overall…

Putting more in than it takes out – across the board, that’s a key aspect of the bold sustainability plan the furniture giant IKEA says it will pursue over the next several years. The company on Tuesday vowed that by 2020 it will produce more renewable energy than it consumes in its stores and buildings. But what…

Wooden Wind Tower Claims Green Edge

The tens of thousands of massive towers around the world that hold megawatt-plus turbines hundreds of feet high, where the wind blows unimpede,d are fashioned of multiple steel plates rolled into a cylinder or conical shape, welded into sections of tower, and then bolted together onsite. Except for one. In Germany, the company TimberTower announced it had…

Surveys show the American public is more convinced of the reality of global warming – but how much will that really shift policy? Two surveys released this month, from the Pew Research Center and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, both find solid majorities of Americans who say global warming is real and growing…

To understand how long civilization’s pursuit of energy has pitted man against the natural world, there is perhaps no better chronicle than Moby Dick, the great American novel among Herman Melville books, being celebrated on its 161st anniversary by today’s Google Doodle. Author Herman Melville, who wrote of his own experience on whale ships, more…

A contentious exchange over energy policy occurred early in Tuesday night’s second presidential debate in Hempstead, New York. While Gov. Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of “keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas,” Obama continued to advocate for his “all of the above” plan to promote clean energy. “We’ve got to…

Battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, saying that the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls would be taking over its automotive operations in a deal valued at $125 million. This past August, A123 had arranged for Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang Group to invest $450 million, but that deal fell apart amid what A123 CEO…

I’ve just arrived in Moscow for a meeting — the subject will be soot. You may hear it called black carbon or even elemental carbon. Scientists getting technical will call it the “light-absorbing part of particles suspended in the atmosphere.” Let’s just keep it simple and call it soot.* (More on black carbon.) Soot: pollution…

A new ranking of the top 25 energy-using nations found that Mexico has the highest level of energy security. The country — which is home to the state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, one of the world’s largest oil companies — topped the International Index of Energy Security Risk ranking, released Monday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s…

BP and its rig contractor, Transocean, will deploy robotic submarine cameras to the wreckage of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon at the floor of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, as they, under U.S. Coast Guard supervision, try to pinpoint the source of an oil sheen that appeared at the site last month, the government said…

When it comes to sustainability, there’s no denying that Starbucks has been taking some steps in recent years. Some of those steps are small: introducing compostable hot-cup sleeves, for example, and turning old baked goods into plastics at its store in Hong Kong. Some of those steps are bigger, such as mandating that all new stores be built…

No ignition at the U.S. National Ignition Facility, home to the world’s largest laser.

Fewer than 16 percent of people in Tanzania have access to electricity from the grid. In rural areas, that figure drops below 3 percent. Yet most families deprived of electricity live within a short distance of the grid. MIT-educated physicist Jamie Yang has been working to address the electricity problem. Three years ago, he founded…

Hoping for lower prices at the pump? Don’t hold your breath. Here’s why. During presidential election years, pretty much anything can become a political football. And so it‘s not surprising that with gasoline prices well above $3 a gallon, the cost of gasoline has become a topic on the stump. Mitt Romney and his fellow…

For the second consecutive year, Massachusetts has topped a prominent ranking of states’ energy efficiency efforts. The 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which is compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, placed California in the No. 2 slot. California had ranked No. 1 in the first four scorecards from the ACEEE before being toppled by Massachusetts last year. The top ten also includes New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota — the same…

We recently took a look at the new electric cars that are charging into the automotive market, despite the obstacles they still face in displacing the gasoline-powered vehicles that are still king of the road. One reader raised a simple, but excellent question, because it really is at the heart of why EVs are expected…

The Caribbean island of Bonaire has been on a pretty interesting path energy-wise since 2004, when the island’s sole power plant burned to the ground. Given an opportunity to rebuild literally from the ground up, the government decided to create a plan that would lead them to 100 percent sustainable energy generation by the end…