Al Gore, who barely lost (or won) the US Presidential election in November 2000, and vowed never to return to US political life, appears to have come out a winner for not doing so. The former Vice President for 8 years under the Clinton Administration decided to devote his time afterwards to teaching as well as making the world aware of the dangers of global warming, a warning that has been noted several times on Green Prophet, including a more recent article tying global warming and climate change with what is happening in the Middle East.
Does that headline grab you? If not, these numbers should:
If that has not grabbed your attention yet, consider that in January of this year, Continental Airlines completed a test flight using a biofuel mixture, which included fuel derived from algae. The test flight yielded a 1.1 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to a jet engine using traditional jet fuel.
That isn’t exactly a great leap forward, but achieving incremental increases in fuel efficiency coupled with the latest engine technology, as well as use of new materials in aircraft production, such as the Boeing 787, could signal a dynamic shift for the airline industry.
NPR’s On Point never disappoints, and their show with Christopher Steiner, author of $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better was no exception. Steiner’s thesis is that as liquid hydrocarbons become all the more difficult to naturally extract and regulation makes them all the more costly to refine and use, prices will inevitably rise. At $20 a gallon, we might not recognize our lives…all for the better, says Steiner.
People will live and buy their locally-grown produce in mixed-use developments clustered around high-speed rail lines. In Steiner’s view, $6 a gallon is an inflection point that begins to redefine the way we live our lives. But, will innovation (or the US government) ever allow prices to remain at that level? Not according to Mark Mills, co-author of The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy.
Ford Motor Company has developed an intelligent charging system that previews how its production vehicles will interact with the grid. The unnamed system enables all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle owners to restrict charging to when electricity prices fall below a certain threshold, or even “when the grid is using only renewable energy such as wind or solar power,” according to Ford.
Being able to drive “emissions free” could be a huge selling point for the upscale and eco-minded early adopters who will be buying EVs and plug-in hybrids during the next few years. There’s a natural synergy for customers to put solar on their homes and buy hybrids/EVs, who can then drive free of fossil fuel guilt.
Singapore is a bustling city state at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia. Independent from Malaysia since 1965, it has a dense population of 4.7 million people crammed into 269 sq. miles (697 sq. km)— that’s roughly 3.5x the size of Washington D.C.
In spite of its lacking land mass, the tiny country is a major economic hub in Southeast Asia and boasts one of the best standards of living of any Asian city, and even rivals many metropolis overseas.
It’s a city that is well planned, tightly regulated, visually attractive, and thankfully lacking the woeful pollution that afflict other centers like Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Waste and the City
All the economic activity and large population of course is not without its downside: waste. In 2008 the total volume of solid waste had reached 5.97 million tons. Luckily, according to government figures, roughly 2.24 million tons (approx. 56%) of this was recycled. That still left a lot left to deal with.