Science & Technology

Securing carbon in our soil

Everybody knows plants store carbon. But soils do too. That's the idea behind organic no-till farming, a cultivation technique that could dramatically increase soil carbon storage across the globe. Research has shown organic farming methods sequester more carbon per acre than fossil fuel-based conventional methods. While scientists are still fleshing out the reasons for this, one likely cause is the… read more →

Vote for your favorite low-carbon innovation

The Forum for the Future is asking you to vote for the top low-carbon innovation. The winner will receive $75,000 to help bring their product to market. Choose from among five contenders: * Kyoto Box – a $7, solar-powered cardboard stove for use in rural Africa. It can halve firewood use and reduce exposure to dangerous air pollutants. (Kyoto Energy… read more →

Beware the atmospheric brown cloud

Maybe cars aren't so bad after all. OK, OK -- they are still a huge source of pollution, but a recent study adds to the debate on the importance of cars relative to forest fire pollution in Southeast Asia. Every winter over Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, an enormous atmospheric brown cloud (ABC) tiptoes in on little cat feet.… read more →

Where is the missing carbon?

A giant hole in the global carbon budget may be plugged by an unlikely source: fish guts. A large proportion of manmade CO2 emissions drain back out of the atmosphere into various carbon sinks. Scientists have long known that approximately half the CO2 flux from the atmosphere goes to land-based sinks and half to the ocean. The problem is that… read more →

Cutting edge green gadgets

I love gadgets, and I'm obsessed with things that help to increase energy efficiency. So when the two come together, I'm a very happy camper. This will explain why I'm so excited about the second Greener Gadgets Design Competition that is currently running online. You can view the shortlist and vote for your favorites to make the shortlist that will… read more →

Global warming is bad news for U.S. trees

Western forests are not doing so well. The temperate, evergreen forests that stretch from the Pacific Northwest to the high deserts of the Southwest are changing quickly, and it appears global warming is the cause. The forests of western North America have recently been struck by a series of blows to the trunk. First, pests like the Western Pine Beetle… read more →

Paper or plastic?

Not only has the paper vs. plastic argument been flipped upside down since when I was a kid (wasn't I saving trees by asking for plastic?), new alternatives are available these days, too. Well, sort of… In recent years I've seen several examples of novel packaging in the marketplace, ranging from degradable plastic bags to starch-based packing peanuts to Amazon's… read more →

Wind makes like a cell phone, gets small and cheap

Enormous, utility scale wind turbines have the most sex appeal, but costs are falling for wind generation at all scales. The day may come when your rooftop windmill costs less than your TV. In some cases, costs are dropping not as a result of technological innovation but as consequence of smart reuse. As the early wind farms created decades ago… read more →

Smart grid, part 2: the technology

The trouble with writing about the smart grid is that the news is moving so fast. Witness: * Obama just announced plans to modernize 3,000 miles of transmission lines and install smart meters in 40 million homes. * Cisco just launched EnergyWise, a software suite that brings internet-like capabilities to energy management services. * A few weeks ago, the Department… read more →

Clean car round-up

Developments continue to pour in on the clean car front. First up: the Aptera hypercar will be rolling off the factory floor in fall of 2009. The car has gone through a few design modifications. It's now all-electric, rather than hybrid diesel. It's also, inevitably, a bit more expensive than originally forecast, likely to be priced somewhere between $25,000 and… read more →
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