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Current Feature Articles
Markets Solve Scarcity
- Terry Anderson
The Property & Environment Research Center is one of the founders of free market environmentalism. They tackle a complex and less emotionally accessible ideology, compared with today's conventional wisdom which relies on big government. How do you explain property ownership promotes environmental stewardship, when big government propagandists claim private property nurtures greed? How do you argue that lower taxes and takings will create wealth and require less government for more quality of life for everyone, when big government propagandists point to every poor person, every fouled property, and demand laws and regulations and more taxes for them to fix it...
India's Water Consciousness
- Brook & Gaurav Bhagat
When it comes to access to raw solar energy and raw rainfall volume, India is a resource rich nation. India also has world class technology, with an industrial base as well as a high-tech and scientific community that is deep and broad. India is a healthy democracy, where green innovations gain a much better hearing. From these perspectives, India has a bright future, with many ways to collectively realize the overall goal of energy and water abundance. Reforesting is possibly the most critical challenge for India, insofar as tropical forests increase the amount of regional rain as well as the ability of the land to naturally collect and store rain...
Electric Cars 2007
- Ed Ring
The message the electric vehicle ("EV") industry is sending the world in 2007 is "electric vehicles are here to stay." Nothing is ever going to be the same. Among the samples to follow, every vehicle relies exclusively on an electric motor for traction. Every one has a battery-only range that permits various uses. Electric motors deliver better horsepower per pound than gasoline engines, and they are far more efficient delivering this energy at variable RPM. They also have a superior RPM range, with over 10,000 RPM of variation possible within a single gear...
Free Market Environmentalism
- Matt Ridley
The idea to harness the forces of the free market to pursue environmentalist objectives is initially counterintuitive - after all, isn't the free market to blame for all environmental misery? Isn't government intervention necessary to keep rapacious profiteers in check? The first step to recognizing the need to embrace market principles in order to further environmental objectives is to examine the opposite case. Communist societies, where all property belongs to the government, are demonstrably the worst stewards of the environment. In the Soviet Bloc, during the years between World War II and the liberation of 1989, environmental destruction was far worse than in the capitalist western nations...
Biofuel's Mixed Blessings
- Dr. Marianne Moscoso-Osterkorn
Over the past few years our take on biofuels has continuously evolved - from initial enthusiasm at the notion a crop could fight desertification, stablize soil, survive in an arid climate, AND provide fuel, to horror at the absolute and ongoing biofueled devastation of our last remaining tropical rainforests to grow oil palms and sugar cane. And as this article authored by Dr. Marianne Osterkorn makes clear, the environmental impacts of biofuel production need to be fully understood. Our concern, well documented, is that even if biofuel is certified by all reputable participants from growers to refineries to distributors, the decentralized and often low-tech nature of this industry guarantees where certification ends, a robust black market begins...
Reforesting the Tropics
- Steve & Debbie Legg
By the mid-1990's, thanks to tireless efforts of groups such as the Rainforest Action Network, the World Wildlife Fund, and countless others, headway was being made in the battle to reverse tropical deforestation. But that was then. About ten years ago, starting in Europe, enthusiasm for biofuel began to grow, and this quickly spread to the tropics where entrepreneurs began to raze the forests to grow oil palms and sugar cane. The momentum picked up as global warming alarm somehow translated itself into the notion that biofuel was better than petroleum - with most of the well-intentioned proponents of this notion completely unaware of the havoc they were encouraging in the tropics...
China's Energy Demand
- Gordon Feller
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China relies on coal for 70% of their energy needs. EIA projections indicate that consumption of coal in China will nearly double in the next twenty years, and that if anything, the percentage of energy usage represented by coal in China is going to increase. Anti-CO2 activists who want to shut down American industry need to remember two things: Over 90% of the fuel currently consumed in the world requires combustion (over 90% of the rest is nuclear or hydro-electric), and the Chinese (and many other nations) are not going to shut down their industries just because we want them to...
India's Solar Power
- Avilash Roul
Using sunlight to create electrical and thermal energy remains the most promising source of clean renewable energy, and projections as to how quickly solar power takes off could be grossly understated. Costs for photovoltaic electricity, for example, have dropped by an order of magnitude in the last 30 years. But in 2006, according to the International Energy Agency, 80.3% of the world's energy came from fossil fuels: oil (34.3%), coal (25.1%), and gas (20.9%). Fully 90.9% of the world's energy comes from combustion, because alongside these fossil fuels in 4th place are "combustible renewables," mostly wood (10.6%). Include nuclear power (6.5%) and hydro-electric power (2.2%), and you have accounted for 99.5% of the world's energy...
Our Endangered Oceans
- Daniela Muhawi
One of the most compelling reasons to report on the oceans is because it is here that sweeping changes are happening now, not in 50-100 years. The final destruction of the major ocean reef habitats as well as the collapse of major fish populations is well underway. As of 2007, both could be destroyed beyond repair within a few years. The encouraging news is this doesn't have to happen. Where coral reefs have been protected from destructive fishing practices, they have often began to show signs of revitalization within a few years. If overfishing were stopped with some strong international agreements, within a few years many fisheries would again begin to yield sustainable harvests larger than today's unsustainable harvests...
India's Green Future
- Ed Ring
Addressing India's future energy and water needs requires servicing five interrelated industrial sectors; agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, buildings and shelter, and waste management. In all these areas, green technology and high technology, working together, will provide answers. Solutions will embrace traditional practices as much as adopt scientific breakthroughs, and working synergistically within all these dimensions is necessary to quicken progress. It should be a source of inspiration that India can complete the process of industrialization today, leapfrogging obsolete legacy technologies that often hamper innovation in the west...
Global Warming Priorities
- Ed Wheeler
What if anthropogenic CO2 has little or nothing to do with global warming? Regulating CO2 will crush many small businesses while awarding lucrative "mitigation" government contracts to large businesses, raise taxes and create new bureaucracies, and undermine our freedom to use energy as we choose. Overall, overproducing energy will spawn innovation and prosperity, and underproducing energy will spawn rationing and tyranny. In fighting a phantom that may not even exist, do we want to swindle ourselves, unthinking, out of a glowing future of private enterprise and personal freedom...
China's Renewable Energy
- Gordon Feller
China intends to derive 15% of her energy from renewable sources by 2020, but 15% isn't very much, this includes hydroelectric power, and the 15% target may be ambitious. If one correlates energy production to GNP, even assuming China achieves western levels of energy intensity (units of energy per dollar of GNP), to approach the per capita income of western industrialized nations, they will have to increase energy production from 50 quadrillion BTU's per year to over 250 quads. While production of renewable energy in China is set to increase by staggering amounts, the amount of fossil fuel derived energy consumption in China, in absolute terms, is going to quintuple in the next few decades...
Reforesting the World
- Fred Morgan
Profitable reforestation is important because it generates ongoing incentives to the entrepreneurs and investors. Finca Leola, a profitable reforesting operation based in Costa Rica, first converts deforested pastureland into a monocrop tree plantation. As these trees are thinned over succeeding years, in their place diverse species of native trees are planted. These native seedlings often require an existing tree canopy for their initial survival, so the hardier cash crop of pioneer trees not only earn money, but they provide vital canopy. Eventually, the entire crop of pioneer trees are removed from what is now a fully restored, diverse ecosystem. At this point, the native trees themselves can be thinned on a sustainable basis, yielding additional profits to permanently fund maintenance and further expansion...
CO2 Taxes - The Great Windfall
- Ed Ring
To discuss intentionally increasing atmospheric aerosol deposition is not madness nor a reckless compromise, rather it is to believe in the need to solve global warming, not just do anything for the cause. CO2 taxes will fund watering the world, reforesting the world, greening the cities of the world, and indeed they may reverse or help manage global warming. Through taxing one's carbon footprint, or their net CO2 emissions, the nations of the world can unite to cool and green the planet without rationing Hummers, or banning incandescent lights - profligate or inefficient resource uses can still be clean and green and carbon positive and profitable and should not be discouraged...
The Biofuel Bonanza
- Louis Strydom
Biofuel entrepreneur Louis Strydom reports from the Biofuels Finance & Investment World conference which was held in late 2006 in London, U.K. He brings some sobering macroscopic updates to our ongoing coverage of the biofuel phenomenon. One message coming from the Terrapinn conference was that the global biofuel industry is utterly dependent on government subsidies. Another was mention of the need for criteria for biofuel certification - criteria that must reach beyond the consumer and the refinery to the actual source of the feedstock...
Solar Power in Egypt
- Gordon Feller
One of the world's sunniest nations, Egypt, has now declared a commitment to building commercial scale solar power stations using a hybrid design. Since the 1980's solar thermal technology has developed significantly, for example, the pressurized tubes that carry the super-heated water across the solar focal point of the mirrored parabolic troughs are now able to withstand much higher pressure and tolerate daily extremes in temperature variation much better than the same components built 25 years ago. There is no reason solar thermal power plants can't significantly increase the efficiency of fossil fuel power plants...
Inconvenient Skeptics
- D. James Guzy
People who have abandoned all interest in questioning global warming theories and the facts behind them should beware. It is the duty of any environmentalist to leave their skepticism intact - skepticism is healthy, and is one of the primary emotions that helped give rise to environmentalism, along with many other illustrious movements in history. By blindly joining the movement to curtail CO2 emissions at any cost, it isn't a bandwagon environmentalists have hopped onto, it is a juggernaut, gathering momentum and carrying the potential to crush everything that gets in its path...
Saving Endangered Species
- Daniela Muhawi
Is the desire to hunt big game any better than the belief that certain wild animal parts offer energy, healing, taste, wealth and prestige? So we take their heads and pelts, stuff them as trophies, harvest their bile, their bones, their organs. But when any hunt turns into a genocidal slaughter the killing must stop. And when killing for the hunt or the harvest is replaced by cruel, tortuous captivity, then traffic in animal parts must stop. When only hundreds of humans were rich, and the wilderness spanned far beyond our reach, it didn't matter quite so much that animals were killed for sport or superstitions. But now hundreds of millions of humans are rich, and the last wildernesses are melting away like butter in the sun...
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