Monthly Archives: August 2008

Blog Buzz: Electricity from Human Movement

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

The idea of generating electricity from human movement isn’t new, but recent advances make it practical in a way it never was before. This CNN article gives a good overview of how the technologies work, and where they are in use. For example:

The floor technology can be used in more than just dance clubs. Any large crowd will produce vibrations. Sustainable Dance Club also has received requests for floors from bus and train stations, where it can be used to power lights and display boards.

And there’s more!

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Posted in Energy / Read 2 Responses

Why Climate Projections Have Error Bars

Lisa MooreThis post is by Lisa Moore, Ph.D., a scientist in the Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense Fund.

In 1992, the world’s nations gathered to negotiate the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 192 nations that ratified this treaty – including the U.S. – agreed to the following objective:

[T]o … prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system… within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

The definition of "dangerous" is a social and political judgment that is informed by science. But even if we all agreed on which outcomes we wanted to avoid, scientists couldn’t say precisely how much we have to cut emissions to achieve these outcomes. We have good best estimates, but there’s always a degree of scientific uncertainty.

Here’s why.

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Posted in News / Comments are closed

Concerned Citizens Plea for Stronger CAFE Standards

John BalbusThis post is by John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Health Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund.

Yesterday, a quiet public hearing on a hot August day in Washington D.C. drew a surprisingly large crowd. The official reason for the hearing, conducted by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), was to take comment on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. A lawsuit forced NHTSA to draft an EIS that assessed global climate change impacts – including health – from improved fuel economy in the U.S. car and light truck fleet.

The 400-page document is technical, turgid, incomplete and misleading, and asserts that it is not possible to distinguish between the future health and climate impacts of a 41 mpg fuel economy versus the present 25 mpg. Needless to say, EDF does not agree with that conclusion or the methods used to come to it, but the comments at the hearing were far broader than just the EIS. Most striking was the lineup of citizens who called on NHTSA to take definitive action on climate change to help protect their future.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Health / Comments are closed

Blog Buzz: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

The employment situation in the U.S. is grim. July marked seven straight months of job losses, with no sign of improvement. The July jobless rate of 5.7 percent was the highest in over four years, with 51,000 jobs lost. (As a writer, I can’t help but note that the situation for journalists is especially grim – dubbed the "Midsummer Massacre".)

One bright spot in this generally depressing picture is the green economy. This encompasses much more than employment at renewable energy firms; there’s a whole supply chain that benefits, as well. But even when you consider only the renewable energy jobs, the surge is impressive – especially given the context.

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Posted in Economics / Comments are closed

Transportation by the Numbers

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

We’ve posted several articles recently about the transportation crisis in this country – a painful combination of astronomical gas prices, inadequate public transit, and bike challenges in some cities. Well, okay, we haven’t posted about biking yet, but we will soon!

Our Transportation by the Numbers list puts the situation in high relief. For example, did you know that 20 percent of public transit agencies in the U.S. are cutting services due to budget constraints, and 46 percent of Americans have no access to public transit at all? Use of public transit is at a 50-year high due to soaring gas prices, and yet services are being cut. Something is wrong with this picture!

Do you have a public transit story to tell? Tell us how you’re coping with crowded parking at commuter train stations, crowded buses and trains, or whatever else is happening in your area. We’d love to hear your experiences. I’ll be posting about my bike challenges in New York City in the next week or two.

Posted in News / Read 1 Response