So Many Blogs About Sustainability!

Site like Things Are Good which cover good news about the environment, people, and politics aren’t that rare. When we started this site nearly 10 years ago there were few options to find places that cover good news. That has since changed.

Recently the folks over at AHAALiving did a round up of just Canadian blogs covering sustainability issues.

So we get our thrift shop-sourced knickers all knotted up in the best possible way when we find a good sustainability read online. We’re always looking out for the next David Suzuki (we need so many of them), and we truly feel that one of the most important ways to contribute to a more sustainable earth is to spread the word.

In light of this month’s giving theme, we present to you AHAALiving.com’s top 10 sustainability bloggers from across the Canadian blogosphere. Enjoy!

And they featured the very blog you’re reading right now!

This blog takes a refreshing approach to sustainability and eco-issues by focusing specifically on the good things that are happening around us and the progress we’re making towards a more sustainable earth. While part of being AHAA is, of course, possessing an awareness of what needs to change, sometimes eco-issues focus primarily on the negative. Things Are Good is a breath of fresh air.

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China and US Agree to Cut Emissions

The world’s largest polluters have agreed that they have a problem and they need to stop it. The USA and China have come to terms with the fact that they are the worst polluters and have both decided to take action using various policy tools and joint cooperation. This is important for many reasons, for one not only does this mean the largest economies will become more efficient and less damaging to the plant. Another reason is that smaller economies (looking at you Australia and Canada) copy American policy, so hopefully the climate change denying government elsewhere will wake up and take action.

Better late than never.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China’s leaders

It involves a series of initiatives to be undertaken in partnership between the two countries, including:

  • Expanding funding for clean energy technology research at the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a think tank Obama created in 2009 with Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao.
  • Launching a large-scale pilot project in China to study carbon capture and sequestration.
  • A push to further limit the use of hydroflourocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas found in refrigerants.
  • A federal framework for cities in both countries to share experiences and best practices for low-carbon economic growth and adaptation to the impacts of climate change at the municipal level.
  • A call to boost trade in “green” goods, including energy efficiency technology and resilient infrastructure, kicked off by a tour of China next spring by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Read more at Mother Jones.

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Surfing Oceanic Data

The ocean is massive and it’s experiencing massive change thanks to climate change and humans depleting its resources. We know this, but we don’t know the extent of the harm done to the oceans nor many other aspects of life in the seas.

A surfer and engineer, Benjamin Thompson, decided to do tackle these problems. He invented a special fin for surfboards that can collect data about the planet’s waters while one enjoys some fun recreation

In a world that grows more “Big Data”-obsessed by the day, the amount of information we have on the world’s oceans remains curiously small. In fact, according to the National Ocean Service, less than 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. There’s good reason for that. “You put anything in the ocean, and it gets pounded to death, critters grow on them, the temperature changes, and ions corode the metal,” says Paul Bunje, senior director of oceans at the XPRIZE Foundation. “Stick something in the ocean, and it wants to get destroyed very quickly.”

It’s particularly tough to collect information near the shore, where waves are crashing. An innovation like Smart Phin could change that. “Surfers are going in the water everyday. They’re in the most critical, hostile zone, and they’re doing it willingly, and they’re doing it for free,” Thompson says. “We’re chopping of a whole section of the cost of research, and that could be a real paradigm shift in the way data is collected.”

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Visualizing Energy Generated from Wind

Renewable energy debates can suffer obfuscation through abstraction and disingenuous allegations like renewable is limited in it’s generation times. For example, wind power is often argued to be useless because we cannot control the wind. We can’t control it, but we can predict it.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of wind power in the UK a new digital design company created a demonstration of using visualization to impact how people think of wind power.

We wanted to make MWh something more tangible, so we’ve taken some data* on the average energy usage of domestic products to hopefully bring those big numbers to life.

We also wanted to show the increasing importance of wind in the energy mix over time and the graph allows us to do that in a simple way as well as giving us a means of navigating across time. You can change the date range on the graph to show longer term trends.

We are aware that numbers can be used to tell all sorts of stories, and that this is just one narrative among many possible ones. We choose to shine a positive light on the amount of energy being generated by wind. For a more rigorous interpretation of energy data, you should read David Mackay’s Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air.

Check it out!
Thanks to Fraser!

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Only Keep Things That Bring You Joy

Are you sick of tidying your place all the time? If you are, just stop.

There’s no need to tidy if you go through all your items and only keep things which bring you joy and improve your life. Marie Kondo has published a book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

I had spent three years tidying and discarding things, yet my room still felt cluttered. Would someone please tell me why my room isn’t tidy when I work so hard at it? Although I did not say this out loud, in my heart I was practically shouting. At that moment, I heard a voice.

“Look more closely at what is there.”

What do you mean? I look at what’s here so closely every day I could drill a hole through it all. With that thought still in my head, I fell fast asleep right there on the floor. If I had been a little smarter, I would have realized before I became so neurotic that focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.

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