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Expanding Environmental Groups
With all the legislation passed by the coal and oil industries via their political lobbyists, Top environmental groups have to work even harder to conserve the natural resources that sustain life on our planet. The good news is that they have seen an increase in donations in recent years. For example, the Trust for Public Land reported a 35 percent increase in online donations just one week after the election of Donald Trump. The latest environmental news contains information about the impact that top environmental groups are having as well as some new technological developments that will increase that impact in the future.
Increase in Environmental Threats
Researchers at the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) are also working overtime to identify new environmental threats resulting from climate change. One of the most serious is soil carbon emissions, which they believe have been underestimated. Carbon is released from soil as the earth warms, and the full effect of that in deeper soil hasn’t yet been determined. One experiment revealed that the higher temperatures of deep warming significantly increased carbon dioxide production. A significant loss of soil carbon could result in speeding up the process of global warming.
It is possible to capture water from the air to provide drinking water for people in countries with dry climates. Currently, a technique using expensive porous metals, is being used for this purpose. Besides the cost, the environmental impact of those metals has not yet been determined. Solar power would provide a less expensive, and more environmentally safe, alternative.
This is why we count on top environmental group. Another threat posed by global warming is the risk of unearthing live viruses currently frozen in ice. Some bacteria and viruses can survive freezing for centuries. As more ice melts, more organisms are released. In one case, a reindeer corpse that had been frozen for 75 years thawed—and released anthrax that killed one person and hospitalized 20 more. Microbes as old as 30,000 years have been discovered in permafrost. After all that time, those microbes were still infectious.
In reponse to increasing environmental threats, environmental groups have won some recent successes. Earlier this month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to protect coal and nuclear plants from competition. The plan would have resulted in a substantial increase in pollution as well as cost to both taxpayers and consumers. and cost to taxpayers and energy consumers.
Another success this month was the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a ruling supporting protections for prairie dogs in Utah under the Endangered Species Act. While saving prairie dogs may not seem significant, the ruling extended the authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. That agency can now protect endangered species even if they only exist in one state. It becomes important because approximately 70 percent of all endangered species are contained within similarly small areas.
Voters also forced Trump nominee Michael Dourson, who formerly worked in the tobacco and chemical industries, to withdraw from consideration for a top position with the Environmental Protection Agency. The opposition against his appointment was bipartisan and was influenced by testimony from victims of health issues caused by chemicals he had previously endorsed.
Voters also succeeded in squashing a taxpayer bailout of $300 million for the Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent company of New Jersey’s largest utility.
Environmentalists are also supporting initiatives such as divesting pension funds from fossil fuel companies and reducing power plant emissions, like the one introduced in New York state. They are also supporting initiatives to improve water quality and reduce transportation emissions. Solar power technology is an important element in plans to achieve these goals.
One example of how the political influence of environmental groups coupled with new technology can achieve the goal of cleaner air and water is the advancement of thermoelectric technology. This technology makes it possible to run an air conditioner using the heat of the sun. Amazingly, thermoelectric devices can convert a temperature difference into electricity. This process is achieved without the use of any moving parts. Conversely, electricity applied to a thermoelectric device can produce heat.
Currently, these devices are used primarily for applications like powering sensors on pipelines and cooling small refrigerators. However, scientists are working on designing more powerful thermoelectric devices capable of harvesting heat produced by industrial processes and combustion engines. That heat, and all the potential energy it could produce, is currently going to waste.
To change a firmly entrenched energy system based on fossil fuels, It’s necessary to utilize all the disruptive new technologies available. Block chain technology promises to be one of the most important—and effective. A new microgrid project in Brooklyn, New York has introduced the concept of the peer-to-peer power grid. Over 60 residents are now able to trade electricity generated from their solar panels directly to neighbors in need. Yes, there is now an app for that!
Some analysts predict that blockchain technology will revolutionize the energy market even more than it has the economic market. Power companies that resist rather than embrace this change may soon become extinct. There’s already some evidence that make those predictions seem likely. Norway’s largest utility is currently developing a blockchain app that would allow customers to buy and sell power independently. Austria and Finland are also participating in trials. Decentralization of the access to energy is the first step towards the people of the world taking back their power.