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Technology

Puerto Rico Needs Support After Hurricane Fiona

It’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic so far this year, but Mother Nature walloped Puerto Rico with a Category 1 hurricane that caused island-wide blackouts on Sunday. As in 2017, organizations are working to send solar equipment and technical expertise (and Solar One is participating in those efforts; see details below), there are things that individuals can do to help.

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More Americans Than Ever Are Considering Electric Cars

Back in 2020 (which can seem like a lifetime ago), only 4% Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they would definitely buy an electric car. But what a difference a couple of years, and a tremendous rise in gas prices, can make: In a new survey of 8,000 Americans released last week, the number who said they would definitely buy an EV jumped to 14%, and more than a third of those surveyed would consider going all electric.

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Sustainable Irrigation Could Help Feed More than a Billion People

Climate chaos, soaring inflation, drought, war- if you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve seen the dire predictions of a looming food crisis. And even more people will need food in the years to come. In fact, a new study from Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute estimates that the global food supply will need to double by 2050 in order to feed everyone adequately.

At the same time, we can’t meet this need by simply doubling the amount of land we use to grow crops. Deforestation and habitat destruction are among the forces driving climate change in the first place.  But according to the Carnegie Institute study, we don’t have to. We can use the farmland and technology we already have to raise crop production yields to levels that will be sufficient to meet our future needs.

One of the most powerful tools we have to do that is sustainable irrigation.

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Just in Time for Earth Day, NY-Sun Initiative Expansion Is Approved

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new framework for New York State to increase its distributed solar capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2030- enough to power 700,000 homes. NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission have created a new roadmap to show how these numbers can be achieved, making the NY-Sun Initiative one of the largest and most inclusive programs of its kind in the US.

“The existential fight against climate change demands historic investments in renewable energy to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Governor Hochul said. “This roadmap to expand the NY-Sun initiative into a nation-leading blueprint for the development of distributed solar meets the moment to supercharge our economy and advance our climate goals.”

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Black Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture Have a Long History

Photo: Corinne Singer/Edible Magazine

As we come to the end of another Black History Month in the US and Canada, it’s a great time to reflect on the enormous contributions that people of African descent have made in the realm of agriculture and farming. Since the colonial period, when so many Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas to provide slave labor, Black people have influenced and created innovative and highly successful farming techniques and practices, and introduced new foods- despite controlling less than 2% of the farmland in this country to this day.

While concepts such as sustainable agriculture and community farming may seem like recent developments, they are rooted in ancient land practices that Black and Indigenous farmers have been perfecting for centuries, and in many cases, we have BIPOC activists to thank for keeping those traditions alive and relevant in the present day.

This photo, taken by Dorothea Lange for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, shows a man and his son watering their mules on their family farm, owned by the man’s father. While some of the Black farmers Lange photographed in this series shot in North Carolina were tenant farmers and sharecroppers, others owned their own farms and worked their own land.

Here are some of the innovations that we can thank Black farmers and activists for introducing to our agriculture system:

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The End Is Near for Gas Power in New Buildings in NYC

Ravenswood PlantIn December, NYC became the largest city in the country to agree to phase out the use of fossil fuels in all new buildings. The New York City Council has passed a bill prohibiting natural gas hookups in new buildings, beginning next year.

NYC’s largest source of carbon emissions is from buildings- at 27%, more than double the amount that building emissions account for in other places (13% in the US as a whole), more than transportation, waste or any other category.

Appliances that run on gas — stoves, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters — also come at another cost. When natural gas combusts indoors, a mix of particulate matter, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds is released — air pollutants that have harmful effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health. Gas-fueled appliances are also frequent emitters of methane, a more impactful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

With the new bill, New Yorkers can expect to see some changes by the end of 2023, when developers of new buildings under seven stories won’t be allowed to put in natural gas-powered stoves, boilers, or water heaters. Instead, these buildings will use electricity, relying on a mix of technologies like heat pumps and induction stoves to replace gas and oil.

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