“Declining energy prices lower the cost of living”

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=26072&src=email

Between June 2014 and February 2016, the CPI for urban consumers fell 1.2%, and the EIA found that the biggest component of this decrease was reduced expenditures on energy. The energy component of the C-CPI-U decreased by 35.3%, showing how the greatly decreased cost of oil (down 71% during the study period) influences household expenses. The decrease in energy costs offset rising food, shelter, and miscellaneous prices.

 

Posted in non-renewable: energy | Leave a comment

Nestle Follow Up

Activists rally against Nestle, hand out free water

 

It seems that between the Nestle ‘crisis’ in Maine and the recent news of Nestle’s bottling permit in the San Bernardino California area has caught on in with the American people.

In Hood River County, Oregon a county wide referendum (measure 14-55) will be voted on May 17th. If Nestle is allowed to extract water from the Oxbow Springs in Cascade Locks Oregon 50 new jobs will be created (not necessarily going to locals). Nestle plans to extract and export 118 million gallons of water per year from the Oxbow Springs.

Locals are taking notice and attempting to prevent Nestle from gaining access as they do not want the corporation to take over their small towns as Nestle did in Maine.

The county board voted 6-1 in favor of allowing Nestle access, citing the economic boost the company would bring to the area as the main reason. However, the citizens of Hood River County have the power to overturn this vote. It will be interesting to see what occurs on May 17 to say the least.

Posted in Land use, Renewable: water | Leave a comment

Is the Correlation between Economic Growth and Carbon Emissions a Thing of the Past?

A recent article in the NY Times highlighted recent research that indicated a reduction in carbon emissions can still result in economic growth. Of the countries studied, 21 showed a break in what a research fellow from the World Resources Institute, Nathaniel Arden, calls a “historic link” between economic growth and carbon emissions. The US is among those 21 nations. It should be noted that US has seen advances in technology and an increased use of natural gas which implies that the US carbon reduction is not fueled solely be the desire to reduce GHG emissions.  However, the article explains that 170 nations have not seen a reduction in carbon emissions. China, Brazil and India are on that list and have followed the more traditional correlation for economic growth and carbon emissions.

While the article shows a new economic pattern we may see in the future, it highlights that today economic growth and emissions encompass many trade-offs. For example, the article quotes Sen. Bill Cassidy explaining how de-industrialized countries have seen increases economic inequality.

Link: www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/upshot/promising-signs-that-economies-can-rise-as-emissions-decline.html?_r=0

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Safe Drinking Water in India

A recent article in the WSJ discussed the availability of safe drinking water in India and other developing countries. A report by a London-based nonprofit, WaterAid, concluded that approximately 5% of India’s population does not have access to potable water. While 5% of the population may not seem that significant, it is important to remember that 5% of India’s population equates to 78.5 million people. The article stated that the majority of those without access to clean drinking water live in extreme poverty and live on less than $5 a day. To make matters worse, India is reliant on groundwater aquifers. More shallow aquifers are being depleted faster than anticipated due to hand pumps use to extract water.

India compared to Papua New Guinea appears to be faring better, as India’s poor spends less of their income on water. It is estimated that the poor in Papua New Guinea spend 50% of their income on safe drinking water. This fact resonated with me as it related to many of the conversations we have had in class concerning water marketing. The developing world often pays more for water due to geographic location, lack of infrastructure and less demand compared to that of the developed world.

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/03/22/indians-have-the-worst-access-to-safe-drinking-water-in-the-world/

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Nestle Revisited

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/273608-feds-propose-5-year-water-bottling-permit-for-nestle-in-calif

 

Federal officials are proposing a 5 year permit for Nestle to bottle water on federal land in the drought ridden state of California. The Forest Service and DoA are both attempting to limit this permit, at the very least attaching conditions which require both the DoA and Nestle to conduct research to verify the ecosystem would not be adversely affected by the Nestle’s bottling. Currently the permit has not been approved but from Nestle’s perspective the situation looks promising.

 

As we discussed in class, there are a multitude of potential negative externalities that may effect the local communities and environment around this bottling. If this permit goes through the impact on the community’s infrastructure will likely be staggering as these communities are not suited to manage that level of industrial bottling. The impacts would likely be similar to the ‘boom towns’ the fracking industry leaves behind throughout the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

Posted in Ecosystem valuation, Land use, Renewable: water | Leave a comment

Grizzly bears in Yellowstone

Maintaining a healthy population of any species can be challenging. Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park have been on the Endangered Species Act list since 1975 when the bear population reached a low of 136 bears. With the population now above 700 bears, the US Fish and Wildlife service is considering removing them from the list but maintaining a conservation plan and monitoring bear numbers. Views among environmental organizations differ, mostly because of concerns about the effectiveness of any conservation plan.

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Recycling: turning waste into a resource

In this TedxSydney talk, Veena Sahajwalla discusses the future of innovation and how we can start thinking about waste as a valuable resource.

Posted in Non-renewable: minerals, Recycling | Leave a comment

Sea Level Rise

A recent article by the NY Times highlights the major impacts of global climate change, partially as a result of human emissions, as well as future uncertainty. The article focuses on recent research indicating that sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in the last twenty-eight centuries. The research conducted by Stefan Rahmstorf indicated that if emissions remain at their current levels, sea levels will rise between three to four feet by 2100. It should be noted that that one of his earlier estimates for sea level rise by 2100 was five to six feet. Moreover, the article highlights the recent increase in coast flooding and the impacts flooding has on communities.

This article relates to many topics we have discussed in class this semester. While scientists agree that sea level rise, global temperature increases, and other climatic changes will result from continued or increased carbon emissions, it is uncertain to what degree those changes in the climate will occur. Uncertainty makes it hard to determine the proper discount rate and exact user costs associated with fossil fuel consumption.

 

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Wastewater to energy

Scientists at Virginia Tech have recently identified two bacteria that break down organic matter in human waste. This has allowed them to identify a way for wastewater treatment plants to generate energy. This YouTube video provides a good overview.

Posted in non-renewable: energy, Renewable: water | Leave a comment

Beijing Red Alert on Air Pollution

According to an article in The Gaurdian, Beijing released a red alert concerning air pollution in the area. Apparently this is the first red alert the city has ever put out about air pollution. The alert was triggered by incredibly high levels of acrid smog in the city and in a report done my Xinhua (Beijing’s environmental protection agency) they stated that the city’s AQI exceeded dangerous levels of 200 for more than three days which the United States reports as extremely dangerous to one’s health.

As a response to the December 2015 red alert, all schools in Beijiing were temporarily closed as well as any outdoor construction. Moving forward, China does not expect its air quality to return to suitable standards until 2030 says Environmental officials of China. Furthermore, China has decided to discontinue up to 2,500 small polluting firms in 2016

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