Archives for category: Consumption

Earth Day is the perfect time to celebrate the positive steps that some states are taking to preserve the environment. This year, the theme for Earth Day is “A Billion Acts of Green.” The idea highlights the fact that many small acts can make a significant difference to the environment.

Last year, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the environmental issues facing the each state. In observance of Earth Day, the rankings have been updated to reflect the most recent data.

24/7 Wall St. examined energy consumption, pollution problems and state energy policies. The most recent information, issued in 2009 and 2010, was used for all states. Thousands of data points were collected to determine the most and least “green” states.

Below are the ten greenest states in the 24/7 Wall St. ranking, based on environmental problems and how effectively these problems are addressed.

10. Colorado

Population: 5,024,748 (22nd)
GDP: $252.6 Billion (19th)
Toxic Waste: 41,532 Tons (19th)
Carbon Footprint: 98.1 Million Metric Tons (27th)
Alternative Energy: 10.0% (14th)

Colorado benefits in ranking from above-average pollution scores, scoring sixth best for birth-defect inducing toxins and carcinogenic chemicals released into waterways. Colorado also ranks 12th in particle pollution. The “Centennial State” has very good policy scores, ranking seventh for energy saving targets, according to ACEEE’s assesment. More than 6% of Colorado’s total energy output is from alternative resources, the eighth best rating in the country.

9. Oregon

Population: 3,825,657 (27th)
GDP: $165.6 Billion (26th)
Toxic Waste: 61,876 Tons (23rd)
Carbon Footprint: 43.5 Million Metric Tons (10th)
Alternative Energy: 63.4% (3rd)

Oregon ranks in the middle third for all of our pollution metrics, including 29th in EPA toxic waste violations and 33rd in toxic exposure, according to the RSEI index. On the other hand, Oregon does exceptionally well both in policy and alternative energy. In the Pew Center on Global Climate Change’s list of state energy-saving programs, Oregon has the second-most, behind only California. The state also produces the second-most hydroelectric energy, and the eighth most non-hydroelectric alternative energy, mostly from state wind farms.

8. Idaho

Population: 1,545,801 (39th)
GDP: $54 Billion (42nd)
Toxic Waste: 4,808 Tons (9th)
Carbon Footprint: 16.2 Million Metric Tons (4th)
Alternative Energy: 84.5% (1st)

Idaho generates the greatest relative amount of renewable energy in the country, with 84.5% of all energy coming from alternative sources. “The Gem State” also ranks fifth for producing geothermal energy thanks to its unique terrain, and sixth for conventional hydroelectric power, thanks to the Snake River Plain and the state’s smaller rivers. Furthermore, the state has the fourth lowest rate of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. This is largely the result of the state’s extensive use of renewable energy.

7. Montana

Population: 974,989 (44th)
GDP: $35 Billion (48th)
Toxic Waste: 37,758 Tons (17th)
Carbon Footprint: 37.7 Million Metric Tons (9th)
Alternative Energy: 36.5% (6th)

Montana is unofficially nicknamed “Big Sky Country.” It is understandable that residents would be proud of their air, as it is tied for the lowest rate of ozone particulates in the nation, according to the American Lung Association. The state also ranks well in many other categories. It ranks seventh for total energy used, however this is largely the result of the state’s relatively low population density, the third lowest in the country.

6. South Dakota

Population: 812,383 (46th)
GDP: $38.3 Billion (46th)
Toxic Waste: 1,214 Tons (2nd)
Carbon Footprint: 13.7 Million Metric Tons (3rd)
Alternative Energy: 44.3% (5th)

South Dakota has the fifth-lowest population in the country and, along with that, its pollution is relatively low. The home of Mount Rushmore has only had 14 EPA violations since 2000, far and away the fewest in the nation. It also generated roughly 1,200 tons of hazardous waste last year, which is the second-lowest amount in the country, behind only Hawaii. South Dakota only produced 13.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the third-lowest in the country. South Dakota is above average – but not stellar – in terms of public policy, but it does rank fourth in the state utility alternative energy savings with a target of 10% by 2015.

5. Hawaii

Population: 1,295,178 (42nd)
GDP: $66.4 Billion (38th)
Toxic Waste: 987 Tons (1st)
Carbon Footprint: 24.1 Million Metric Tons (8th)
Alternative Energy: 7.6% (19th)

Since nearly 25% of Hawaii’s gross state product comes from tourism, the state is quite concerned about the environment. Hawaii produces the least amount of toxic waste and received the highest score for two air quality measurements: the EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators toxic exposure rank and the American Lung Association’s ozone pollution index. The state also ranks sixth in energy saving programs and policies.

4. Nevada

Population: 2,643,085 (35th)
GDP: $126.5 Billion (31st)
Toxic Waste: 11,143 Tons (10th)
Carbon Footprint: 41.6 Million Metric Tons (12th)
Alternative Energy: 9.4% (16th)

Nevada has the lowest level of water pollution in the country because the generally arid state has very little fresh water to dump toxins into. The “Silver State” scores well in alternative energy production, with the second-highest production of solar photovoltaic and geothermal energy. Despite its low pollution levels and alternative energy scores, the state is only above average in policy initiatives.

3. New Hampshire

Population: 1,324,575 (40th)
GDP: $59.4 Billion (41st)
Toxic Waste: 4,538 Tons (8th)
Carbon Footprint: 19 Million Metric Tons (6th)
Alternative Energy: 12.3% (11th)

New Hampshire has extremely low pollution. The state has the fourth lowest level of harmful particle pollution in the country, according to the American Lung Association, and ranks fifth best with regards to toxic exposure, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators model. New Hampshire has the fourth lowest level of developmental toxins released into its waterways, the fifth lowest level of releases of reproductive toxins and the fifth lowest level of cancer-causing chemicals released.

2. Maine

Population: 1,318,301 (41st)
GDP: $51.2 Billion (43rd)
Toxic Waste: 3,687 Tons (6th)
Carbon Footprint: 19.9 Million Metric Tons (7th)
Alternative Energy: 49.8% (4th)

Almost half of the electricity generated by Maine comes from renewable sources. The state has the largest percentage of its total energy produced coming from non-hydroelectric renewable sources, a total of 23.7%. Since the state has the highest percentage of timberland in the country, it is not surprising that a large portion of its energy comes from wood and wood waste.

1. Vermont

Population: 621,760 (49th)
GDP: $25.4 Billion (50th)
Toxic Waste: 1,536 Tons (3rd)
Carbon Footprint: 6.4 Million Metric Tons (1st)
Alternative Energy: 28.1% (7th)

Vermont has the second smallest population and the lowest GDP in the country. As a result, it produces less pollution than most states. The state releases the fewest carcinogenic toxins and has the smallest carbon footprint in the country. Vermont’s success as a green state isn’t limited to pollution, however: the “Green Mountain State” ranks in the top 15 in 20 out of 28 ranked categories. Vermont has a number of policies to promote efficiency, alternative energy, and reduce pollution, and so far it has succeeded better than any other state.

Original Article  >>

While Earth Day was an important time to highlight issues surrounding our environment, pollution impacts our world on every single day of the year.

Last year, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the environmental issues facing each state. In observance of Earth Day, the rankings were updated to reflect the most recent data.

24/7 Wall St. examined energy consumption, pollution problems and state energy policies. The most recent information, issued in 2009 and 2010, was used for all states. Thousands of data points were collected to determine the most and least “green” states.

Below are the ten least green states in the 24/7 Wall St. ranking, based on environmental problems and how effectively these problems are addressed.

10. Illinois

Population: 12,910,409 (5th)
GDP: $630.3 Billion (5th)
Toxic Waste: 1.04 Million Tons (43rd)
Carbon Footprint: 242 Million Metric Tons (45th)
Alternative Energy: 1.6% (47th)

Illinois uses the third greatest amount of energy out of all the states. Unfortunately, only 1.6% of this energy comes from renewable sources. This is the fourth worst percentage in the country. The state, with its heavy manufacturing industry, also received the fourth worst toxic exposure score by the EPA. The state does have the seventh highest score for solar energy policy, however.

9. Missouri

Population: 5,987,580 (18th)
GDP: $239.7 Billion (22nd)
Toxic Waste: 238 Thousand Tons (33rd)
Carbon Footprint: 140 Million Metric Tons (36th)
Alternative Energy: 2.5% (38th)

The nature of 24/7’s ranking is such that a state might redeem itself for a shortcoming in one category by exceeding in another. If the state doesn’t produce substantial alternative energy, it may be because its size doesn’t allow for much production, and this would be balanced to a certain extent by low pollution levels. Missouri is a perfect example of a state which falls flat in every statistical category. Out of 28 ranked metrics, the “Show Me State” breaks the upper 25 only five times, with 16th in air particle score being its highest ranking. The state ranks 37th in policy initiatives and 48th in non-hydroelectric alternative energy.

8. Kentucky

Population: 4,314,113 (26th)
GDP: $156.5 Billion (28th)
Toxic Waste: 132 Thousand Tons (29th)
Carbon Footprint: 156 Million Metric Tons (39th)
Alternative Energy: 2.4% (Tied for 39th)

Kentucky performs poorly in most categories on this list. It ranks 43rd for releasing cancer-causing chemicals, 44th for releasing developmental toxins, and 41st for releasing reproductive toxins. The state also ranks 39th for CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

7. Texas

Population: 24,782,302 (2nd)
GDP: $1.14 Trillion (2nd)
Toxic Waste: 13.4 Million Tons (50th)
Carbon Footprint: 184 Million Metric Tons (50th)
Alternative Energy: 4.6% (28th)

While Texas does well in some areas, such as producing the greatest amount of wind energy in the country, it performs poorly in several pollution categories. Much of this is due to the high rates of industry in the state. Texas ranks absolute last for CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, having produced over 670 million metric tons of CO2 in a single year. The second highest amount is produced by California, however that state produced just under 400 million metric tons, a significantly smaller amount. Among Texas’ other poor rankings are 50th for the EPA’s toxic exposure score, 47th for total toxic chemicals released into waterways, 46th for cancer-causing chemicals released, 45th for developmental toxins released, and 49th for reproductive toxins released. The state also produces the greatest amount of hazardous waste, generating 13,461,911 tons in one year. This is over three times the amount produced by the second worst-offending state, Georgia, which generates 4,024,468 tons.

6. Pennsylvania

Population: 12,604,767 (6th)
GDP: $554.3 Billion (6th)
Toxic Waste: 290 Thousand Tons (36th)
Carbon Footprint: 274 Million Metric Tons (48th)
Alternative Energy: 2.4% (Tied for 39th)

Unlike many of its northeastern neighbors, Pennsylvania ranks very poorly on our list. This, of course, is due in large part to the state’s expansive and polluting industry. The “Keystone State” ranks 48th in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 49th for particulates in the air, and 49th for toxic exposure. The state’s pollution habits are, unfortunately, not very surprising, since it is well-known for its coal, steel, and natural gas industries.

5. New Jersey

Population: 8,707,739 (11th)
GDP: $482.9 Billion (7th)
Toxic Waste: 555 Thousand Tons (39th)
Carbon Footprint: 134 Million Metric Tons (34th)
Alternative Energy: 1.5% (48th)

The only reason most would be surprised about seeing New Jersey here in our ranking is that it isn’t dead last. The Garden State is not known for being green, a reputation that is based in truth. The state ranks 45th in air particle pollution and 46th in ozone pollution. New Jersey actually scores quite well in energy conservation and alternative energy policy, however these policies haven’t translated into results. As a percent of energy generated that is alternative, the state ranks third-to-last.

4. Louisiana

Population: 4,492,076 (25th)
GDP: $208.3 Billion (24th)
Toxic Waste: 3.8 Million Tons (48th)
Carbon Footprint: 194 Million Metric Tons (43rd)
Alternative Energy: 4.1% (30th)

Louisiana is another poor performer. It is 46th in energy-saving policies and programs and has the sixth-smallest alternative energy budget. The state rates horribly in water pollution, falling into the bottom five for releasing carcinogenic toxins, total water pollution, and chemicals which can cause birth defects. Louisiana also produces the third-most toxic waste each year – roughly 3.8 million tons.

3. West Virginia

Population: 1,819,777 (37th)
GDP: $63.3 Billion (39th)
Toxic Waste: 92 Thousand Tons (26th)
Carbon Footprint: 116 Million Metric Tons (32nd)
Alternative Energy: 1.8% (46th)

West Virginia stands out at the bottom of our list as having a surprisingly low level of energy consumption. Thirty-eight states use more energy each year than the “Mountain State,” including Iowa, which is in the top ten on our list. This fact makes West Virginia’s horrible performance much more impressive. Only twice does the state break the top 25 in any category, and it ranks in the bottom ten percent in many categories, including alternative energy, policy, air pollution, water pollution, and carbon footprint. The best thing state residents can lay claim to is generating three-quarters of a million megawatt hours of wind energy annually, the 19th best amount for this category.

2. Indiana

Population: 6,423,113 (16th)
GDP: $262.6 Billion (16th)
Toxic Waste: 778 Thousand Tons (41st)
Carbon Footprint: 230 Million Metric Tons (44th)
Alternative Energy: 0.7% (Tied For Last)

Indiana’s main source of power production is coal. In fact, Indiana is home to the country’s largest coal power plant, the Gibson Generating Station. As a result, the state is tied with Ohio for having the lowest percent usage of renewable energy sources in the United States, with a mere 0.7%. Additionally, the state has some issues with pollution. It releases the greatest amount of toxic chemicals into waterways, releasing over 27 million pounds in one year. The second greatest amount, from Virgina, was significantly less at just over 18 million pounds.

1. Ohio

Population: 11,542,645 (7th)
GDP: $471.2 Billion (8th)
Toxic Waste: 1.3 Million Tons (45th)
Carbon Footprint: 267 Million Metric Tons (47th)
Alternative Energy: 0.7% (Tied for Last)

Ohio ranks fifth in energy consumption, and very little of this demand is met by alternative energy. Only 0.7% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources, the worst rate in the country. The majority of the state’s energy comes from coal. Along with this tendency comes a long and poor record of pollution. The state ranks 47th for CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 46th for toxic exposure, 47th for developmental toxins released, and 47th for reproductive toxins released. Additionally, the state ranks second worst, just behind Florida, for hazardous waste violations since 2000, as reported by the nonprofit group OMB Watch. Ohio may not rank dead last in an extreme number of subcategories, however its overall extremely poor showing causes it to be ranked as the least environmentally friendly state on our list.

Original Article  >>

When will production of oil and coal peak?  After the peak, production will decline because supplies are being depleted and no new sources are to be found.  Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.  Optimistic estimations of peak production forecast the global decline will begin by 2020 or later, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. These models show the price of oil at first escalating and then retreating as other types of fuel and energy sources are used. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred, that oil production is on the cusp of the peak, or that it will occur shortly.  The most recent edition of the respected science journal Nature contemplates the end of cheap coal with an analysis of the decline of global coal supplies by Post Carbon Institute Fellows David Fridley and Richard Heinberg.  The estimates for global peak coal production vary wildly. Many coal associations suggest the peak could occur in 200 years or more, while scholarly estimates predict the peak to occur as early as 2010. Research in 2009 by the University of Newcastle in Australia concluded that global coal production could peak sometime between 2010 and 2048.

Nature is far from alone in sounding the alarm on the potential impact of the coal crisis. The WallStreet Journal also reports that Beijing is considering capping domestic coal output in the 2011-2015 period, partly because officials worry miners are running down reserves too quickly to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy. National Geographic has suggested that the world could face peak coal as soon as 2011.

As of 2005, the top coal-producing countries were China (44% of world production), United States (20%), India (8%), and Australia (7%). Each of these four largest coal-producing countries are experiencing significant increases in coal production. Each nation willhave a different peak production date.

Canada, for example seems to have peaked in 1997. The United Kingdom peaked in 1913!

In 1956, Hubbert estimated that US coal production would peak in about the year 2150. In 2004, Gregson Vaux used the Hubbert model to predict peak US coal production in 2032.

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest coal extractor and has the third largest reserves after Russia and the United States. The Energy Watch Group predicts that the Chinese reserves will peak around 2015. The EWG also predicts that the recent steep rise in production will be followed by a steep decline after 2020. The US Energy Information Administration projects that China coal production will continue to rise through 2030.

Unconventional sources, such as heavy crude oil, oil sands, and oil shale are not counted as part of the formal oil reserves. However, with rule changes by the SEC, oil companies can now book them as proven reserves after opening a strip mine or thermal facility for extraction. These unconventional sources are more labor and resource intensive to produce, however, requiring extra energy to refine, resulting in higher production costs and up to three times more greenhouse gas emissions per barrel (or barrel equivalent) on a “well to tank” basis or 10 to 45% more on a “well to wheels” basis, which includes the carbon emitted from combustion of the final product.

Original Article  >>

Additional Information  >>

 

While 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, many do not understand why, according to a Yale project study on climate change communication. The study finds that eight percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B grade, while 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F.

The study, “Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change” (PDF), also finds gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system, which has led some people to doubt global warming or that human activities are a major contributor, say researchers.

Researchers say this lack of knowledge can lead to uninformed decision making.

Here are some of the key findings:

–57 percent know that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat

–50 percent of Americans understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities

–45 percent understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface

–25 percent have ever heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification

The study also finds that most Americans understand that emissions from cars and trucks and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming, and that a transition to renewable energy sources is an important solution.

Researchers also say despite the recent controversies over “climategate” and the 2007 IPCC report, Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming.

They also recognize their own limited understanding of the issue. Only 1 in 10 say that they are “very well informed” about climate change, and 75 percent say they would like to know more.

 

Original Article  >>

“The Story of Stuff”

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. The organization website has a many more free resources and videos: http://storyofstuff.org