EarthTalk

EARTHTALK®: WHAT’S NEW IN BATTERIES TO STORE RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Photo: Tesla Motors will produce more lithium ion batteries in its new Nevada Gigafactory than were produced worldwide in 2013. Credit: Nakhon100, Flickr CC.

February 19, 2017 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that one of the big hurdles to growth in renewables is energy storage. What’s new in the world of battery technologies? And will better forms of storage really accelerate the development of solar, wind and other alternative forms of energy?  -- Maxwell Jay, Erie, PA

EARTHTALK®: HOW TO GREEN UP YOUR HALLOWEEN

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Caption: Green Halloween encourages parents to organize costume swaps & give out healthy snacks or treasures instead of candy this year at Halloween. Credit: Cascadian Farms, FlickrCC.

Dear EarthTalk: Any tips for how to green up my Halloween this year? -- Jason Falcone, Bern,NC

 

October 22, 2016 (San Diego's East County) - Halloween may be fun, but...this most ghoulish of holidays is also cause for lots of waste, given the preponderance of one-time use costumes that end up in a box or in the trash come November 1. And sustainability proponents also decry Halloween for promoting unhealthy eating habits, as obesity and diabetes rates among American kids continue to skyrocket. So what’s a green Halloween reveler to do?

EARTHTALK®: SMOKE WAVES FROM WILDFIRES ARE HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Photo: Smoke waves can radiate out for hundreds of miles from wildfires, spreading particulate matter and causing health problems for millions of Americans who think they are safe and far from the fire lines. Credit: Dave Thomas, Flickr CC.

September 2, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- Dear EarthTalk: What are “smoke waves” from wildfires and how can they be hazardous for our health? -- Doug Jenkins, Big Sandy, TX

EARTHTALK®: HELPING SCHOOLS GO SOLAR

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

August 12, 2016 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I am interested in helping my school get solar panels on the roof to show students how we can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. Are there any resources or grants out there to help schools go solar? --
Charles Hamilton, Warren, OH

EARTHTALK@: WHAT ARE THE BEST BUYS IN ELECTRIC AND PLUG-IN HYBRID CARS?

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Photo: Tesla's sporty new all-electric Model 3 can go 215 miles per charge and will cost consumers less than $30k after federal tax rebates when it rolls off California production lines in 2017.

May 7, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Dear EarthTalk: I’m finally ready to make the switch from my old gas guzzler to an electric or plug-in hybrid car. What are the best bang-for-my-buck deals on these newfangled vehicles?

-- Mickey LaMonte, Boston, MA

EARTHTALK®: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF VW CHEATING SCANDAL

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Volkswagen is ponying up $18.2 billion to deal with its emissions cheating scandal, but environmentalists wonder if all the money in the world will be able to save those already negatively affected by the pollution and the wound to consumer confidence. Photo credit: Roddy Scheer.

April 23, 2016 --Dear EarthTalk: What has been the environmental impact of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal?  -- Emily Warden, Philadelphia, PA

EARTHTALK(R): ROOFTOP SOLAR FINALLY COST COMPETITIVE WITH GRID IN U.S.

 

EarthTalk®

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that the price of getting solar panels installed on a home is lower than ever, but has it gotten to the point anywhere in the U.S. where it’s actually cheaper than traditional grid power yet?                             --Lester Milstein, Boston, MA

November 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) - Rooftop solar panels on have always been the province of well-to-do, eco-friendly folks willing to shell out extra bucks to be green, but that is all starting to change. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the cost of putting solar panels on a typical American house has fallen by some 70 percent over the last decade and a half. And a recent report from Deutsche Bank shows that solar has already achieved so-called “price parity” with fossil fuel-based grid power in 10 U.S. states. Deutsche Bank goes on to say that solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in all but three states by 2016—assuming,that is, that the federal government maintains the 30 percent solar investment tax credit it currently offers homeowners on installation and equipment costs.

EARTHTALK(R): HOW WILL DRIVERLESS CARS IMPACT OUR ENVIRONMENT?

 

E - The Environmental Magazine

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss - Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson

Dear EarthTalk: What are the environmental implications of the so-called “driverless car” that Google and others are working on right now?                                            ­-- April Jackman, Barre, MA

June 1, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - Just a decade ago most of us wouldn’t have dreamed we’d live to see driverless cars whisking people around, but things are changing fast and analysts now think they will be common by 2020 and account for the majority of cars on the road by 2040. And with Google’s recent unveiling of its latest prototype—complete with no pedals or steering wheel—the future is indeed closer than we ever imagined.

EARTHTALK®: CLIMATE CHANGE IS KILLING WHITEBARK PINE TREES ACROSS WEST

E - The Environmental Magazine

Photo by Frank D. Lospalluto/Flickr: Clark's Nuthatch on whitebark pine

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that climate change is responsible for killing whitebark pine trees and thus impacting mountain ecosystems?   -- Dale Livingstone, Salem, OR

January 24, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Whitebark pine trees are a “keystone” species in high-altitude ecosystems across the American West, meaning they play an important role in maintaining the natural structure of many of our most iconic mountain regions. Wildlife from grizzly bears to songbirds are dependent on whitebark pine seeds for nourishment, while forest stands of the trees stabilize and shade the snowpack in winter, which helps reducing avalanches and helps extend snowmelt flows into the dry summer months.

EARTHTALK®: A FIERCE GREEN FIRE

 

September 19, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What is the new documentary film A Fierce Green Fire about and what does the title refer to?                                                                           

-- Gloria Howard, Washington, DC

A Fierce Green Fire is a new film documenting the rise of the modern environmental movement from the 1960s through the present day. It premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and will be playing at select theaters across the country beginning in September 2013. Educators, environmental groups and grassroots activists also will be showing the film at small and large events from coast to coast over the course of the fall. Written and directed by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, A Fierce Green Fire (the film) is based on the 1993 book of the same name by environmental journalist Philip Shabecoff.

EARTHTALK®: HUMAN OVERPOPULATION - STILL AN ISSUE OF CONCERN?

 

September 5, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that human overpopulation isn’t such a big issue any more as numbers are expected to start declining in a few decades?

-- Melinda Mason, Boone, IA

Ever since Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in 1798, positing incorrectly that humans’ proclivity for procreation would exhaust the global food supply within a matter of decades, population growth has been a hot button issue among those contemplating humankind’s future. Indeed our very success going forth and multiplying, paired with our ability to extend our life expectancy, has meant that we are perpetually pushing the limits of the resource base that supports us.

EARTHTALK®: FOOD WASTE TO ENERGY

 

August 26, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: Might another possible source for ethanol be discarded pastries from bakeries? For that matter, wouldn’t fermenting unsold bananas, oranges and apples from grocery store produce departments be able to provide an ample supply of fuel?

-- Curious in Warren, PA

Food waste is indeed an untapped resource with great potential for generating energy. Some one third of all food produced around the world gets discarded uneaten, and environmentalists, energy analysts and entrepreneurs are beginning to take notice. Diverting even just a portion of this waste to so-called waste-to-energy (WTE) systems could free up large amounts of landfill space while powering our vehicles and heating our homes, and thus putting a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint. Perhaps that’s why WTE is one of the fastest growing segments of the world’s quickly diversifying energy sector.

EARTHTALK®: SEA LEVEL RISES NOT LETTING UP ANYTIME SOON

 

July 29, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Hurricane Sandy brought more sea water onto shorelines than I’d ever witnessed before and many communities near where I live are now being required to raise their homes up. What is the prognosis for sea level rise in the years immediately ahead?

-- Scott P., Fairfield, CT



Since sea level measurements were first recorded, in 1870, global averages have risen almost eight inches. The annual rate of rise has been 0.13 inches over the past 20 years, which is close to twice the average from the previous 80 years. Future estimates for sea levels vary according to region but most Earth scientists agree that sea levels are expected to rise at a greater pace than during the last 50 years.

EARTHTALK®: DROUGHT LESSONS FROM THE DUST BOWL



 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 17, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s? -- Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA

Indeed we are embroiled in what many consider the worst drought in the U.S. since the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s that rendered some 50 million acres of farmland barely usable. Back then, drought conditions combined with poor soil management practices to force some 2.5 million Americans away from the Great Plains, only wreaking further havoc on an already devastated Great Depression economy. The lack of native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep the soil in place meant large swaths of formerly productive agricultural land turned to dust and blew away in so-called “black rollers.”

While we have learned a lot about maintaining soil quality since, drought conditions today are nevertheless taking a heavy toll on agricultural productivity, fresh water supplies and the economy—especially as the effects of global warming start to kick in more seriously.

EARTHTALK®: TOXIC INGREDIENTS IN CLEANING SUPPLIES



By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I'm concerned about toxic ingredients in my cleaning supplies, especially now that I have young children. Where can I find safer alternatives?             -- Betsy E., Hartford, CT

It is true that many household cleaners contain potentially toxic substances, so parents especially should make an effort to keep them out of the reach of children or, better yet, replace them with safer alternatives.