Friday, 24 August 2012 14:39

U.S. Carbon Emissions Lowest in 20 Years

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Just when we were about to succumb to the gloomy picture that is global climate change, a ray of hope breaks through the clouds.  A technical report released this month by the U.S. Energy Information Agency calculated that energy related U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about 98 percent of total CO2 emissions, for the first four months of 2012 decreased to around 1992 levels.  

The dramatic decrease is attributed to a switch from dirtier burning coal to cleaner natural gas.  Almost everyone in the energy and environmental industries believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.

Scientists didn’t predict the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. falling to its lowest level in 20 years in part because the decrease is not attributed to legislation limiting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  The switch to natural gas was driven by the market. 

The state of the economy, increasing efforts for energy efficiency and a growing utilization of renewable energy are certainly aspects that contribute to lowering U.S. carbon emissions.  However, at the moment, the lion’s share is due to the current low price of natural gas.  There has been an upsurge in shale gas drilling in the northeast, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, which has made natural gas more affordable than coal per unit of energy generated.  Gas production is on the increase because of the modernization of the process of hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, where highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals are inserted to fracture shale rock which releases natural gas.

While natural gas is a cleaner-burning energy source than coal, it is not emission-free.  There is still some carbon dioxide emitted and drilling can have environmental impacts such as contamination of ground water, air quality risks, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, and surface contamination from spills and flowback.

There are also concerns that the rise in use of natural gas could stall renewable energy efforts.  The ultimate goal should still be a mix of increasing energy efficiency and clean energy with the balance kept to a minimum of natural gas.

So the upshot is that the U.S. energy picture is far from perfect, but the news concerning a drastic decline in U.S. carbon dioxide levels is welcome and positive because it reminds us that there is still time to turn around the fate of the planet’s climate.

It seems only fitting that a business that depends entirely on organic and natural herbs, flowers, and medicinal plants would maintain a strong commitment to environmentally responsible business practices.  Carbonfree® Business Partner Mountain Rose Herbs sets a high standard in this regard and has made significant steps in following Carbonfund.org’s motto of “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™” by lessening its energy consumption prior to neutralizing their remaining annual operational emissions with Carbonfund.org.

Mountain Rose Herbs’ primary facility was constructed with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and relies heavily on natural lighting.  Energy demand was further reduced by making a complete lighting upgrade to energy-efficient bulbs in their principal facilities and installing Energy-Star rated heating and cooling systems.  In addition, Mountain Rose Herbs upgraded all their computers to those with Gold Star ratings for energy conservation, minimal shipment packaging and elimination of environmentally-harmful materials as well as more energy-efficient flat screen monitors.  Mountain Rose Herbs converted all electrical usage to their local Greenpower program to ensure that a significant portion of their electricity comes from wind and solar sources. 

Despite all of these energy-saving measures and efficiency enhancements, Mountain Rose Herbs still generates a measurable annual carbon emissions footprint from its business operations.  In order to neutralize these annual operational emissions, Mountain Rose Herbs has partnered with Carbonfund.org for the past four years to measure and offset these unavoidable emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean energy and carbon reduction projects. 

"If we are to move past coal and look forward to a greener future that is full of alternative energy, then we must support the endeavors of Carbonfund.org, who are creating the infrastructure necessary to make it happen," states Shawn Donnille, Vice President of Mountain Rose Herbs. 

We applaud Carbonfree® Partner Mountain Rose Herbs for pursuing a meaningful commitment to environmentally-conscious business operations, measuring and neutralizing their annual carbon emissions, and supporting our clean air technology projects.

Last month it was revealed that a diverse group of stakeholders with political ties that cover the entire spectrum from left to right have been holding secret meetings about climate change with the support of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington D.C.

Climate change is an unavoidably, politically charged issue.  These meetings are an attempt to discover ways to approach global warming in a politically viable manner.  The July 2012 meeting was the fifth of such meetings, which are held secretly and speakers not revealed in order to facilitate true brainstorming, an open discussion where all sides could offer solutions without fear of reprisal. 

The agenda for the most recent meeting, which was leaked online, was titled, “Price Carbon Campaign / Lame Duck Initiative: A Carbon Pollution Tax in Fiscal and Tax Reform”.  However, participants claim putting a price on carbon emissions was not the only item of discussion, and neither was focus limited to the short-term.

Proponents of a carbon tax put it forward as a less complex method to begin pricing carbon emissions than cap-and-trade.  Legislation for cap-and-trade collapsed in 2010 in the nation’s capital and preceded these meetings.

At the moment tax increases, carbon or otherwise, are unlikely to get off the ground, but the long-term view is that taxing CO2 could win support over taxing income.  Furthermore, there is potential to use a carbon tax to tackle both global warming and the deficit.

So the question as to whether we can deal with climate change in a politically viable manner is still unanswered, but the future is looking brighter with the news that open discussions are occurring among bipartisan groups.

Carbonfund.org seeks to partner with businesses that subscribe to the same mission of solving the climate crisis.  The goal of achieving a clean energy future is more complex than simply meeting carbon emission reductions targets.  Any solution needs to be sustainable, and sustainability is one of the cornerstones of Carbonfree® business partner TCX Investment Management Company.

The global TCX Fund provides protection and risk control against currency devaluation in frontier market currencies for major development finance institutions to microfinance institutions and other institutions investing in the communities of many emerging market countries, such as Cambodia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Peru, and Vietnam.  This translates into providing a mechanism to absorb the risk of extreme currency value fluctuations so these institutions can assist local businesses with the startup funding they need. TCX is able to make real contributions to sustainable development and to improving the living standards in communities in some of theleast developed countries on our planet.

TCX maintains a Sustainability Policy requiring that the businesses they assist also meet environmental sustainability goals.A key tenet of the TCX policy maintains that any projects receiving funding should pursue development for the needs of the present population without impairing the ability of future generations to meet community needs.  All projects are expected to include pollution prevention and abatement, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable natural resources management.

Carbonfund.org and TCX have partnered to help TCX reach its own operational emission reduction goals.  In the past three years, TCX Investment Management has neutralized a total of almost 460 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions created by its annual operations – the equivalent of removing 82 passenger vehicles from the road for a year – in part by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects."We chose Carbonfund.org because of their verified programs, pricing and easy-to-use customer friendly services," confirms Bill Piccolo, Operations Manager for TCX.

TCX’s operational emissions neutralization program supports Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects, and in doing so, enhances air quality and promotes new technology development that will continue to reduce carbon emissions and hasten the transition to a cleaner energy future.  Carbonfund.org looks forward a continued partnership with TCX in pursuingthe paired goals of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

As part of Carbonfund.org’s mission toward a ZeroCarbonTM world, our programs make it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future.  This focus on simplicity and affordability made it a natural to expand our partnership with CarbonFree® Business Partner Propel Fuels to create an at-the-gas-pump CarbonOffset program supporting clean air technology. 

Last May, Carbonfund.org partnered with Propel Fuels, a retailer of renewable fuels that began offering consumers the ability to offset their driving emissions at the Clean Mobility Center in Fullerton, California any time they fill their gas tank.  Customers may select the CarbonOffset option at the pump, and the funds will go towards Carbonfund.org’s clean air projects that spur technology developments to reduce carbon emissions.  

Since CarbonOffset was launched in May, customers have chosen to contribute $1.00 per fill to fully offset the emissions from their fuel purchase more than 1,000 times. The two-month pilot has offset more than 160,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions at this single station, which is equivalent to taking 84 cars off the road in the same two-month time period.  CarbonOffset contributions from the program’s first year of operation will help support Carbonfund.org’s Truck Stop Electrification project, which improves air quality around truck stops and surrounding communities and offers drivers, employees and residents a cleaner and quieter environment with fewer harmful air pollutants.

"The early success of Propel's CarbonOffset program is strong evidence that consumers are ready and willing to support clean energy, especially if the cost and benefits are clear," said Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. "Thanks to Propel, thousands of drivers can vote with their dollars to support clean energy and domestic, renewable fuels."

If the CarbonOffset program continues at its current rate of participation, the program has the potential to offset more than 5 million pounds of carbon emissions over the next five years at this station alone, making a measurable contribution to emission reductions and a cleaner environment.  Carbonfund.org is proud to partner in this ground-breaking program and to facilitate a simple and cost-effective method for vehicle emissions offsetting through supporting clean air technology.   

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 10:19

Energy Saving PC Technology from ePlusGreen

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Part of Carbonfund.org’s mission is to emphasize the need to “reduce what you can” when it comes to carbon emissions, and we strive to present our supporters and business partners with methods and new technologies that can help reduce daily operational emissions.  Carbonfund.org partner ePlusGreen provides one such option, a simple energy-saving program for daily computing needs. 

The ePlusGreen PC Power Management system includes both social and environmental benefits and is designed to provide individuals and businesses with technology that reduces carbon emissions from daily computer use, saves energy costs and at same time supports Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction projects. ePlusGreen’s Power Management software can reduce the carbon footprint of a PC by enabling users to cut power consumption by as much as 30%. 

The PC Power Management technology monitors your personal or business computer power consumption and identifies power savings opportunities.  Then the technology automatically implements daily power saving measures that result in reducing energy usage, reducing carbon emissions and saving energy costs. The software will also turn off your computer if you ever forget.  For businesses, the technology also manages the power consumption for printers and calculates paper usage.

Learn more about how you can reduce daily computing emissions and power consumption with ePlusGreen’s PC power management technology.

With daily computer usage the norm, it is important to consider the multiplier effect of millions of PCs in use around the world, and to do your part in conserving energy usage wherever possible. Carbonfund.org encourages our individual and business partners to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to reduce emissions in every aspect of daily life. 

Pair ePlusGreen's PC Power Management technology with www.envirosearch.org as your preferred search engine, and you'll be reducing carbon emissions while helping us plant trees.  Every step you take to decrease your carbon footprint is a step forward towards a clean energy future.

More than a couple of our past blog posts have covered how increasingly extreme weather is the product of climate change.  However, have you stopped to ask yourself what that really means?  How will climate change affect us and future generations?  What things that we currently enjoy will be unavailable to our children?

A recent article covers some things that global warming is likely to ruin for our kids; things such as coffee, chocolate, strawberries.  And the list isn’t limited to agricultural food items.  Say goodbye to blazing fast Wi-Fi.  Also your favorite vacation spot or even your home may be underwater in a few, short decades time.  The country you live in may disappear.  The article has some shocking images of Greenland melting away.

So what’s it going to take to help preserve the Earth as we know it?  Global carbon emissions need to be reduced 80% by 2050.  The U.S. has already pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by approximately 17%.  Eventually legislation will be enacted increasing the goal to a 30% reduction in 2025 and a 42% reduction in 2030, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 83% by 2050.

Do your part in reducing carbon emissions and getting us closer to meeting the goals outlined above.  Start by switching your Internet browser to www.envirosearch.org.  Your regular, daily Internet search activities will begin contributing to renewable energy, reforestation, and energy efficiency projects.  Then go to www.carbonfund.org for ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint and offset carbon emissions.  By working together, and each doing our part, we can change the fate of the planet.

Monday, 23 July 2012 15:18

Climate Change Unimportant Issue to Generation X

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A recently published study out of the University of Michigan examined Generation X’s views on climate change and found them to be largely unconcerned with the issue.

The Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) releases a quarterly research report and has followed the same 4,000 people for 25 years.  Originally, in 1987, 5,900 students were selected from a national sample of 7th and 10th graders in 50 U.S. public school systems.

Generation X now comprises 32-52 year olds who are the most well-educated and scientifically savvy generation in U.S. history.  However, the LSAY shows dwindling interest in climate change as it is a complex and long-term issue.  The study compared responses from 2009 and 2011 and found that a scant two percent of those aged 37 to 40 follow climate change "very closely".  This was a 50 percent drop from 2009 results.  Over half said they follow climate change "not closely."  More than 40 percent say they have only a "moderate concern" about global warming.

The most disturbing part of the report points to a disregard for future generations.  Most do not see climate change as an immediate problem that requires their attention to address.  A large percentage, 66 percent, said they aren’t sure that global warming is happening.  About 10 percent even outright deny global warming is actually happening.

Why is Generation X disengaged, disinterested, or even openly disbelieving regarding climate change?  The answer is as multifaceted as global warming itself.  Disinterest in climate change is surely due in part to a massive and unprecedented disinformation campaign by oil and gas interests and conservative media outlets spanning more than a decade, even as the overwhelming scientific record points squarely to climate change.  Some experts theorize issue fatigue may be the cause when a problem is long-standing.  Others point to the complexity in understanding the underlying causes and potential solutions for climate change as a barrier to engagement with the issue.  Still another potential answer is the distraction by other timely public policy issues.  For example, interest in the economy experienced an upsurge following the Great Recession that began in 2008 to the detriment of environmental issues.

Whatever the reason, there is something every person in all generations can do to help save our planet.  One easy and fast way to protect the environment is to switch your Internet browser to www.envirosearch.org.  You'll be contributing to renewable energy, reforestation, and energy efficiency projects through you regular, daily Internet search activities.  Another simple step is to use an emissions calculator to determine your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  Then reduce your carbon footprint, plant a tree, or offset your carbon emissions.

Download and read the entire study here http://lsay.org/GenX-4.pdf.