In green technology developments this week, news surfaced that would give pause to even the most persistent climate skeptics – and scientists across Iowa have issued an urgent call to action to take personal responsibility for reducing global warming now, or pay the price later.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, between 1990 and 2011, the global climate became 30 percent warmer because of an all-time record increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with CO2 accounting for about 80 percent of the spike. About half of this carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.
Those same greenhouse gases are causing more extreme weather, like the 2012 drought, according to the Climate Statement signed and delivered this week in Des Moines by more than 130 scientists and researchers from 27 colleges and universities – urging state residents to act now to reduce economic costs due to climate change. The document predicts that, “based on overwhelming lines of physical evidence…we can expect dry periods to be more frequent as soon as the 2020s.” Therefore, the scientists said, Iowans will increasingly need infrastructure investments to adapt to climate fluctuations, while developing and implementing mitigation.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency’s latest edition of “World Energy Outlook” (WEO) report also cautions that water is essential to the production of energy, and the energy sector already accounts for 15 percent of the world’s total water use. Its needs are set to grow, making water an increasingly important criterion for assessing the viability of energy projects. In some regions, water limitations already are affecting the reliability of existing operations and they will introduce additional costs. But there is some good news: By 2015, renewables will be second only to coal as the world’s largest source of power generation; and by 2035, they will rival coal as the primary source of global electricity.
In a world of extreme weather – from droughts to deluges – how will structural design as we know it survive? A Green Technology World guest editor, Robert Brown Butler, provides a plethora of insights this week – including suggestions that architects should design/construct part of each building’s interior as a disaster sanctuary, where occupants can be reasonably safe during and immediately after extreme weather; and install multiple energy sources, as well as a cistern that collects rainwater on the roof.
Business also must do its fair share to reduce global warming. Wipro (News - Alert) Limited—an Indian multinational provider of information technology (IT), consulting and outsourcing services headquartered in Bangalore – has nabbed the top spot in the in the international version of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics. Released this week, the 18th edition of the guide ranked 16 major electronics companies based on their commitment and progress in three environmental areas: energy and climate, greener products and sustainable operations.
In the public sector, as part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Energy Department (DOE) is awarding $11 million in funding to 20 new projects across 17 states that will cut red tape and develop the infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) – including cars and trucks that run on natural gas, electricity and propane. Among the key initiatives: Bay Area Air Quality Management District in San Francisco will receive $1 million to fund the California Fleets and Workplace Alternative Fuels Project, a statewide effort to develop templates and best practices for permitting AFV refueling infrastructure, collaborate with colleges on first-responder training, promote workplace EV charging and work with fleets to implement petroleum reduction strategies. For a full list of grants, click here.
Lastly, in the 21st century, the data center has become an increasingly critical part of most business operations. It has now become necessary for owners and operators of these mission-critical facilities to assess and improve their performance with energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission metrics with increasing demand and rising energy prices.
Recently, industry consortium, Green Grid, entered into an agreement on measurement guidelines and next steps for three new efficiency metrics. The task force agreed on the use of the Green Energy Coefficient, Energy Reuse Factor and Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) metrics.
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