Halt To Alaskan Oil Drilling

Halt To Alaskan Oil Drilling

Shell announced plans to postpone the planned oil drilling in Alaskan Seas, a move which has been met with general acceptance. Being either genuine or deceitful, Shell cited the failure of the oil spill-containment dome in preliminary tests as the reason for the delay, and went on to say it would be irresponsible to begin drilling into the oil-bearing zones of the seas under such conditions. However, Shell was accused of conducting only the most limited preliminary safety tests on its vessels, which made many environmental groups uncomfortable and upset. Additionally, the testing was done in calm waters, which further… read more

Drilling in Alaskan Seas

Drilling in Alaskan Seas

On August 27th, oil giant Shell began exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, in addition to another drilling rig being anchored in the Beaufort Sea. This marks the first time an oil drill has touched the sea floor in two decades. Shell received a waiver from U.S. air pollution regulations regarding the generators on its drill ship, which allowed for the drilling to begin. Further, Shell is required to tow its repurposed oil recovery barge into Barrow, Alaska after it passes the U.S. Coast Guard inspection before any drilling into the oil-bearing zone can commence. The U.S. Coast Guard is… read more

Money Talks, Walks & Works

Money Talks, Walks & Works

Unfortunately, money has a significant impact in politics and policy. However, this is not a new claim, nor is it surprising. Ever since Citizens United passed, money in politics has been accepted, though not without backlash. Last year, a piece of legislation was brought up in the California senate which aimed to allow non-property owning residents to buy-in to distributed renewable energy programs in their territories. Current California law allows for property owners, i.e. homeowners, to add renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, onto their homes. Further, homeowners can apply for government loans and tax credits to help fund… read more

Prompt Action Required

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Environmental policy, like many other areas of legislation, is not exempt from the slow-moving nature of the American government. As a result, it is difficult to convey the need for prompt action, especially in the case of progressive environmental legislation. However, America is in a situation which demands immediate action. Former Governor Mitt Romney presented his energy plan last week in Hobbs, New Mexico, and called for a boost in oil exploration along the East coast. In addition, he would reverse the suspension of oil drilling off of the coast of Virginia, which was handed down by President Obama following… read more

Space Mining

Space Mining

When science fiction translates into reality, good things tend to happen. In the case of a new private sector undertaking, great things may be on the horizon for both space exploration and human achievement. The latest enterprise planned by legendary explorer/filmmaker James Cameron is something straight out of sci-fi movies and videogames; mining asteroids for precious metals and minerals. Helping form a company called Planetary Resources Inc, James Cameron and Google CEO Larry Page have ambitious plans for the future, and if realised, they might just push the world several eons ahead of our current technological limitations. These magnates of… read more

Mining Responsibly

Mining in South Africa

South Africa is the biggest mining country in the world, a report compiled by Citigroup estimates that the country has over USD 2.5 trillion in precious metals reserves. To the corporate world this means potential to realize big profits, however to the many communities located in close proximity with mineral reserves this may spell the potential for catastrophic environmental disasters. The South African legislature recognized the need to address potential problems associated with mining, thus it passed the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA). This piece of legislation requires all persons who have applied for a… read more

Doing Less-With-More…

Global cooperation

A common green perspective is that solving sustainability problems is a matter of increasing levels of global cooperation and economic efficiency.  Thomas Princen – Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment – suggests that today’s world is characterized by increasing levels of cooperation and efficiency, often in the name of sustainability. Global forestry organisations are impelled to extract more fiber per hectare of forest; and the world’s water managers are compelled to draft new water management agreements. Yet deforestation proceeds unabated, and freshwater availability continues to dwindle. Could it be, Princen asks, “that the… read more

A Green Economy

Renewable energy power

Given the slow recovery of the U.S. economy, every economic solution must be explored. Obviously, there are solutions that are more credible than others. The legitimacy of oil and nuclear energy has greatly diminished by the negative effects they have on the environment, people, and recent disasters. On the other hand, renewable energy has had its credibility strengthened by technological advancements and the fact that these energies are renewable. There are many obstacles renewable energy implementation faces, but the foundation of these obstacles is that a strong, robust renewable energy economy requires an energy revolution. Opponents of renewable energy are… read more

E-Waste and Africa

E-waste in Africa

You may have heard the expression “when America sneezes the whole world catches a cold” being said in the context of the global financial economy. The same may be said in regards to first world countries, vis-a-vis the developing world, when referring to the generation of e-waste and its effect on the natural environment of developing countries. E-waste is defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) as any appliance using electric power that has reached its ultimate life span. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (“UNEP”), in 2010 an estimated 62.5 to 125 tonnes of e-waste associated cable found its way… read more

7 Billion Mouths

Agricultural production vs growing population

Increasing agricultural production to feed the world’s growing population is often seen as integral to achieving sustainable development. According to the United Nation’s Environment Programme the world’s population will increase from 7 to 9 billion by 2050 with agricultural production needing to be increased to keep pace. This is an old argument often traced to the work of British scholar and Reverend Thomas Malthus who, at the end of the 18th century argued that food production always plays catch-up with human population growth. But, as the FAO’s own data also demonstrate, world food production has consistently outstripped population growth for at least the last 50 years. So what… read more