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Posts Tagged "sustainability"

@ScientificAmerican

A Hangout with Google Science Fair in Swaziland

Left to right: Sakhiwe Shongwe, TH Culhane, Bonkhe Mahlalela, Rohit Fenn, Bayinda, Amit Fenn in Swaziland. Credit: YouTube

You know what’s awesome? Seeing a bunch of young people at work on changing the world to make it a better place for all. Today, I hosted a Google Science Fair Hangout On Air on Sustainability in Swaziland, and I got to have that privilege. Now I want to share it with you. My fellow [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

The Smart Approach to Development: Incorporate Science

How can science deliver solutions to global development problems? That was the question before us at one of the panels I moderated during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions 2013, or “Summer Davos,” the week of September 9 in Dalian, China. Of course, we all knew science could not solve all challenges [...]

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Culturing Science

The Global Perspective of Space and Deep-sea Explorer Kathryn Sullivan

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There is currently a person on this planet who has traveled to outer space and to the deep sea. Many of us dream of one or the other; to dream of both at once seems overly ambitious or even greedy. But Kathryn Sullivan has done it. Kathryn was the first American woman to walk in [...]

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Culturing Science

Collapsed cod fishery shows signs of life

cod-feature

Perhaps our species’s greatest misconception about the sea was that it is inexhaustible. The idea seems rather silly now, in a world where most people are familiar with the word “overfishing.” But men once gazed into the deep and imagined that it teemed with life so plentiful that we could take and take without ever [...]

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Expeditions

Rocket stoves ready, but will Tanzanians spread the word?

Africa, Dartmouth, engineer

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as  Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) [formerly known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP)], to design "rocket stoves" in the village of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Tea and Consequences: Unsustainable Cultivation Puts Honeybush Tea at Risk

honeybush tea infusion

The Web sites selling sweet-smelling honeybush tea proudly proclaim its supposed health benefits, which range from lowering cholesterol and improving respiration to controlling the symptoms of menopause. Although none of these claims have been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is some minor research backing up a few of these benefits. That [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rare Success: Critically Endangered Gharial Crocodiles Have Record Hatching Year

gharial

This week’s blackouts in India have been blamed at least in part on the lack of rain during the annual monsoon season, which hindered hydropower production and increased the demand for electricity for use in agricultural irrigation. But the unusually dry year has also had at least one positive effect: it has helped to boost [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Shark-finning gangsters assault celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay

If you’ve ever watched shows like Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, you’d know not to cross incendiary celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Well, maybe his shows don’t air in Taiwan, because a crew of Taiwanese shark-fin smugglers wasn’t too impressed by Ramsay’s reputation, holding the TV host at gunpoint and pouring gasoline over him during the [...]

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Food Matters

Get Beer Off Oil – A visit with Hermit Thrush Brewery [Happy Hour #4]

Avery Schwenk, vice president and Brewer at Hermit Thrush, a new craft brewery in Brattleboro, VT

Craft beer is a glorious thing. In 2013, over 15 million barrels (that’s over $14 billion worth) of craft beer were sold in the US, and new breweries are popping up all over the place. And there are a plethora of choices, with an almost endless array of flavors (as evidence, last weekend I had [...]

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Food Matters

Seeing The Forest Through The Trees: How Wild Foods May Contribute To Food Security

Into The Wild: The Usambara Mountains in Tanzania are a source of nutrient rich foods.

An estimated 870 million people are calorie deficient, but that figure doesn’t represent the entire number of people affected by food insecurity. An additional two billion people are also micronutrient deficient, often described as hidden hunger since it can occur even within diets containing adequate amounts of calories. Since wild foods such as fruits, roots, [...]

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Food Matters

Eat Small: Why our Big Fish Problem is leading to big fish problems. (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 1.07.58 AM

We like big fish. And that’s a problem, according to Andy Sharpless, CEO of the ocean conservation organization Oceana, and co-author (along with Suzannah Evans) of the book The Perfect Protein. The book describes how regulations from a small group of countries, and a shift in the way we think about seafood, could ensure a sustainable [...]

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Food Matters

Today I’m thankful for turkey, which means I’m thankful for corn, fish, gasoline, and much, much more.

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On Thursday, millions across the country will gather in dining rooms around fragrant, large, delicious dead birds, stuffed with even more delicious spoonfuls of cornbread, celery, and savory herbs. Gravy will flow. Potatoes will be mashed. And pie. Oh, the pie. The abundance on the table is meant to represent the abundance in our lives, [...]

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Guest Blog

Scientists Team Up to Talk about Climate Change

People's Climate March, New York City. (South Bend Voice via Flickr)

As many as 400,000 people voiced their concern about climate change during the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21. Held just before the United Nations Climate Summit, the march was one of many events held around the world. It was the largest climate march in history and gave the impression that [...]

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Guest Blog

Book Review: The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, By Charles Fishman, Published in 2011 by Free Press, New York NY, ISBN 978-1-4391-0207-7 ____________________ Resorting only minimally to the standard statistics of water scarcity in various regions around the world, Mr. Fishman dives in to several specific case studies intended to help the [...]

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Guest Blog

Waste to Energy: A mountain of trash, or a pile of energy?

Collect trash, burn it, and then generate electricity. The technology is called Waste to Energy, and it uses our waste streams to produce electricity that can be cleaner than the average kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated in the United States today. A mountain of trash becomes a pile of energy. But, will this domestic renewable resource be [...]

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Observations

Your Meat Should Be Raised on Insects, U.N. Says

Black solider fly eyes

There has been a lot of press, both positive and negative, about a recent United Nations report in which scientists recommended that we start eating insects to fight world hunger. But the other U.N. recommendation—that farmers should consider feeding insects to poultry and aquacultured fish—did not garner nearly as much attention, despite seeming more feasible. [...]

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Observations

Can Cities Be Both “Resilient” and “Sustainable”?

gowanus-canal

This article arises from Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University. On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 24, Future Tense and Scientific American will be hosting an event in New York City on building resilient cities. To learn more and to RSVP, visit the New America Foundation website. [...]

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Observations

Royal Society Calls for Redistribution of Wealth and More Birth Control to Save the Planet

earth

During the 352-year life span of the Royal Society, the human population has risen from less than one billion people to seven billion and counting. That boom has been supported by science and technology—Watt’s coal-fired steam engine, Haber and Bosch synthesizing nitrogen fertilizer, Fleming’s discovery of penicillin—and continues today as the world’s population expands at [...]

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Observations

Views from Space Show a Fragile Earth

mining in Chile

Two provocative ways to see long-term changes on earth are currently being promoted in honor of Earth Week. A Web site by NASA, and an app from HarperCollins, both show striking side-by-side satellite images of locations that have changed dramatically over time spans of up to 30 years or more. The primary intent is to [...]

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Observations

Food, Not War, Is the Biggest Threat to World Security, Argues Lester Brown

Even as Iran’s nuclear program raises the likelihood of yet another conflict in the Middle East, the bigger threat is a potential food crisis in the making, says Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute. “When I ask myself, what are the threats for out security today, foreign aggression doesn’t make top five,” Brown [...]

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Observations

How to Fight Food Insecurity, Even in a Changing Climate

harvesting food

About 800 million people worldwide do not get enough food to eat, while about 1.5 billion are overweight. As the global population expands by an additional 2 billion people by 2050 and climate change alters traditional agricultural areas, scientists and policy makers are racing to figure out how to address both problems. (Read more about [...]

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Observations

Income and Health Inequalities Cut U.S.’s High Marks for Development

un development index

If global development were a horse race, would you put your money on the slow-and-steady contenders or a fast new contender? With this year’s results just in, the old stalwart Scandinavian countries are still in the lead, according to the 2011 United Nations’ Human Development Index, published Wednesday. With Norway leading the charge in this [...]

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Observations

Can greener gadgets save us from e-waste?

e-waste-South-Africa

One laptop per child seems a simple slogan, chock full of benefit. What could go wrong when you put the power of the Internet and solar cells into the hands of children in the developing world? After all, not only does it train the global underclass in the tools of modern production, it also unleashes [...]

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Observations

Environmental ills? It’s consumerism, stupid

plastic-painting-chris-jordan

Two typical German shepherds kept as pets in Europe or the U.S. consume more in a year than the average person living in Bangladesh, according to research by sustainability experts Brenda and Robert Vale of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. So are the world’s environmental ills really a result of the burgeoning number of [...]

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Observations

Can the world’s richest man feed the planet?

Echoing luminaries before him—from Norman Borlaug to Kofi Annan—the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, called last night for a second Green Revolution focused on African farmers. That revolution won’t just be in new crop varieties and higher yields but also in farmer training and infrastructure—and, perhaps most controversially, will be genetically modified. "Three quarters of [...]

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Plugged In

Map Monday: Will Global Warming Drown Your Hometown?

Istanbul after GIS modeling of climate change. Image courtesy of #DrownYourTown

You may recently have read about climate change and North Carolina for all the wrong reasons, entailing laws designed to forbid the mentioning of the term “climate change” as well as outright banning measurements of sea-level rise. At the heart of this drama, is elevation mapping technology applied to climate change to better understand future [...]

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Plugged In

Did Congestion Charging Just Go Viral?

Congestion charging point in Stockholm. Image courtesy of Transport Styrelsen.

What is congestion charging? Congestion charging or pricing is the practice of setting up cordon tolls around the city on a large-scale to charge entrants for entering during peak hours. Ideally, this is done in an automatic fashion with cameras registering your license plate and directly billing you. This is different from low emissions zones, [...]

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Plugged In

The Importance of Debating Energy Policies—Not Technologies

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) documents the source of all U.S. primary energy use, and then approximates to which sector energy from each source flows. (Source: EIA)

As a researcher working in the area of energy technology and policy, I often find myself drawn into debates surrounding certain energy technologies, and what role they should play in the future energy system. People are quick to list the specific benefits or drawbacks of one technology over another: “Wind energy is fine at the [...]

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Plugged In

Top 10 (Transport) Sights in Paris

Image courtesy: Kathleen Sullivan

Few tourists travel explicitly to see a city’s or country’s mode of transportation, but I dare say that besides transport nerds such as myself, there are examples which qualify as must-see, including Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed train, Lisbon’s old tram system, and the streetcars of New Orleans, among others. While Paris is most recently known for [...]

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Plugged In

Fuel/Cost Savings of Improving Fuel Economy from 12->15 mpg = 30->60 mpg

Fuel economy is not as straight-forward as you might think. Image courtesy: fragallo

Consumer tip-of-the-day: increasing efficiency of fuel economy on a miles-per-gallon scale is not linear, as more miles-per-gallon (mpg) are initially better for your wallet and the planet than you might expect, and eventually trail off with diminishing returns. Last week, a friend pointed out a good blog post by Nicholas Chase and the Energy Information [...]

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Plugged In

Map Monday: 50+ Shades of Air Pollution

One-fourth of the world is breathing unsafe air. Courtesy of Hsu et al/The Atlantic

In today’s installment of Map Monday, I wanted to focus on air pollution as mapped by Hsu et al and The Atlantic. Go to this link to see the full interactive map, which details air pollution by country and city. Below, I have copied in a global snapshot with some perhaps unsurprising shades of pollution [...]

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Plugged In

Energy and Community – “Let’s meet at the clothes line”

450px-Clothes_line_with_pegs_nearby

Lowering your thermostat setting to decrease your monthly power bill seems simple enough, until your roommate says the magic words, “I’m cold”. Suddenly, that extra sweater and socks go from being an acceptable solution to the chill to an inadequate bandaid on a bigger problem. You are now facing the tough choice – try to [...]

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Plugged In

Teach the Children Well…About Water

Today, all eighth and ninth graders in the public school system here in Decatur, Ga., are partaking in a day-long seminar known as Water Wise. Last night, I attended the preview complete with presentations about water-borne diseases, water conservation, and the intricate interplay between energy use and water. The night capped off with a screening of the 2011 [...]

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Plugged In

As a River Runs Dry

Unknown

Just outside of Thomaston Ga., a red dirt driveway winds its way through a forest of sweet gums, oaks, pines and beech trees, marking the lone driven track on a large swath of land. It’s peaceful here. The trees rustle softly and the rippling of the river is heard before being seen. Sam Brewton, a [...]

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Plugged In

Sustainability Gold for the 2012 London Olympics

london-2012-olympics-logo

With the 2012 London Olympics drawn to a close, so starts the task of breaking down parts of the 500-acre Olympic Park that housed the world’s finest athletes for the past two weeks. But, the London 2012 Organizing Committee and the Olympic Delivery Authority are already two steps ahead. In their effort to keep this [...]

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PsiVid

Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks and the Green Ninja

Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks

I seem to be surrounded by green lately (check my website for more about my Girls camp on Environmental Engineering and the great new MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) on Sustainability at UIUC to be offered beginning in August). For PsiVid, though, a video focus seems appropriate. The Australian based Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks [...]

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Symbiartic

The Three Little Pigs Never Thought of This Building Material

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Bricks, sticks, and hay are decidedly pedestrian building materials in comparison to a new building that just opened to the public last Thursday in Hamburg, Germany. Ambitious architects have built an apartment covered in a thin layer of living, breathing algae. The building, known as BIQ (for Bio Intelligent Quotient), meets the extremely stringent passive-house [...]

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