It seems like every time you turn around there’s a new solar product on the market for personal electronics like cell phones and mp3 players or solar panels for homes. In fact, some events like the Solar Decathlon are devoted solely to exhibiting the latest advances in sustainable solar power. There are plans for building your own solar power kits flooding the internet, although it’s recommended that for big solar panel installations you go to a professional. Yes, the race is on to see what company can create the most efficient solar panel, the ultimate goal being 50% efficiency. It seems that Sharp Corporation got the jump on the competition with a record setting 43.5% efficiency in May with their new triple-junction compound solar cell. This is a big advance over their previous panel which had a reported efficiency of 36.9%.
On May 5, 2012, Japan shut down its Tomari 3 nuclear reactor on the northern island of Hokkaido for inspection, marking the first time in over 40 years that the country had not a single nuclear power plant generating electricity. The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown shattered public confidence in atomic energy, thus far making it politically impossible to restart any of the reactors taken offline. And the disaster’s legacy has spread far beyond Japan. Some European countries have decided to phase out their nuclear programs entirely. In other countries, nuclear plans are proceeding with caution. But with the world’s fleet of reactors aging, and with new plants suffering construction delays and cost increases, it is possible that world nuclear electricity generation has peaked and begun a long-term decline.
What are we in this for, anyway? This thing we call life and living. Is it really to earn enough money to buy lots of stuff, thinking that will bring happiness? The car. The house. You know, the stuff. Well, happiness science tells us without doubt that once we get past a certain minimal material threshold (security, food, clothing, shelter, mobility, education, health, etc.), happiness does not come from simply adding more.
Rather, it comes from the nonmaterial. Closeness to family and friends. A job and hobbies you love. A community that nurtures… well, community. Feeling vibrant. Enjoying nature. Living simply. And above all else, the one thing consistently found across time and cultures to deliver pure joy: serving others.
We have been used to see NASA's 64-megapixel "Blue Marble" photos of the Earth. But now a Russian weather satellite has taken a 121-megapixel image of our fragile Earth, making it the most detailed photo yet. The satellite is stationed on a fixed located over 35000 kilometers above the Indian Ocean and takes a full image of Earth every 30 minutes. The resolution is one kilometer per pixel.
The photo portrays our Earth a bit differently from what we are used to. The rust color that dominates the photo is not desert; it's actually vegetation from forests. The vegetation has been turned into this orange colour because the camera on the weather satellite combines data from three visible and one infrared wavelengths of light.
The Green Deal is a government initiative set to launch in the UK in October of 2012. It is designed to encourage business and home owners to install more green technologies in their offices and homes. Essentially, the Green Deal will pay all upfront installation costs, and users will pay back the money through savings on their energy bills, over a set period of time. Funding can be used for energy insulations such as loft, wall, double glazed windows and energy efficient doors. As well as insulation measures, the Green Deal will also fund home energy generation systems, such as air and ground source heat pumps.
The most popular techno-fix for global warming is green energy. If energy companies would only deploy wind, hydro, solar, geothermal or nuclear, then emission-intensive fossil fuels will eventually disappear. But will that actually work?
A new study by Richard York of the University of Oregon shows that it isn’t that simple. Rather than displacing fossil fuels, green energy sources have proven to be mostly additive.