Daily Archives: July 3, 2013

The Elements of a Good Firework Show

Read the full story from USGS Science Features.

On the Fourth of July, people all across the country will gather for cookouts and firework shows commemorating the Nation’s birthday. Here in Washington, DC, more than half a million people are expected to gather for the annual pyrotechnic extravaganza on the National Mall. Fireworks shows feature spectacular colors, shapes and special effects that would not be possible without minerals! The same minerals that hold up buildings, power smart phones, and provide essential nutrients are the same ones that light up the sky on the Fourth of July.

Wishing all of you a happy and safe July 4!


Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Geology, Holidays


The End of Exclusive Environmentalism

Read the full story at Ensia.

If the environmental movement is to succeed, it must represent more than a small portion of our society and the world.
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Sustainability


Energy Efficiency: Is the United States Improving?

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This paper is the beginning of an annual effort to examine and characterize the overall state of energy efficiency in the United States and determine whether it has improved, declined, or stayed the same since the previous year. ACEEE has developed a list of 15 indicators that together create a snapshot of energy efficiency across the U.S. economy.

Is the United States moving in the right direction? ACEEE’s U.S. Energy Efficiency Indicators demonstrate that the United States is becoming more energy efficient, but the improvements we measured are generally modest, indicating that our economy overall has made only moderate progress. Five indicators show some meaningful progress: state energy efficiency program savings; reductions in energy use in residential buildings; standards for fuel economy; building codes; and standards for appliances. Improvements in energy productivity and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions may reflect other factors so may not be indicators of a long-term trend. Seven indicators showed only small or no improvements and one showed backsliding. To put the nation on the right path, the United States needs to be far more aggressive, embracing meaningful policies and programs that can lead to significant improvements in U.S. energy efficiency.

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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Energy efficiency, Publications


Project aims to convert manure to biochar

Read the full story at Feedstuffs FoodLink.

As part of the European Union-funded project BioEcoSIM, 15 European research institutes from five countries aim to convert livestock manure into an organic soil amendment (biochar) and mineral fertilizers.

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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Agriculture, Biochar


Register Now for the 2013 USBI North American Biochar Symposium

There couldn’t be a more exciting time to join 400 colleagues for a North American conference on biochar. Over the past six years, growers, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs worldwide have experienced the remarkable properties and benefits of using biochar as a soil conditioner, as a medium for ecosystem restoration, as an agent for wastewater remediation, and even as a food additive to enhance livestock nutrition.

Registration is now open for this event at: The event runs October 13 – 16, 2013 and will be held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In addition to learning about exciting new developments in the field through networking and formal presentations at the event, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the following:

  • Ignite Talks – Monday night presentations by experts in the biochar field
  • Exhibit tables
  • Poster Presentations & Book Signings
  • A Biochar Banquet with food stations that will feature local produce grown in biochar conditioned soil, as well as a variety of meats and adult beverages enhanced by biochar
  • A Video Lounge
  • A post conference field day to learn more about technologies with a hands on approach.
  • To volunteer, ask questions, or share comments, please contact the conference organizer, Karen Ribeiro at:

Two student teams win coveted EPA prize

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

Two Cornell student teams – a cookstove fuel/biochar group and the AguaClara water filtration project – won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award June 19. With about 45 teams in the competition, Cornell was the only school with two of the seven winning teams.


Nike Launches A New App To Help Designers Choose Green Materials

Read the full story in Co.Design.

For about eight years now, Nike has selected materials for apparel and shoe products by using an in-house sustainability index, developed by researchers from a gigantic database of scientific research and analysis of the life cycles of products. It lives as an open-source tool within the sportswear company and charts the amount of water a given material will use, or the waste produced by a certain manufacturing process. By consulting the index during its design process, Nike has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 18% from a decade ago.

As of today, these corporate gems of wisdom are accessible to designers anywhere, via the new Nike Making app, available in the iTunes store. The app is a pocket toolkit for product makers to give their projects an environmental score. Even within Nike–an R&D driven company–designers say they aren’t always sure which materials yield the greenest products, says Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation. The Making app lets designers sort through 22 different product materials such as cotton, silk, grass-fed leather, rayon-viscose, and so on. Each material is then scored within four buckets of environmental impact: water use, energy, chemistry, and waste. To keep designers on point, the app also figures for performance and aesthetic needs.


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