Deeper Than Fracking

UNspOILed has covered fracking–otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing twice in the last six months and this week’s post will make a third. The initial post is titled “Maryland’s Choice: Renewable Energy of Fracking?” and it explained many of the ways fracking would hurt rather than help the state of Maryland. The following month’s posting, titled “Who Gives A Frack?!” examined the process and attempted to give an unbiased explanation of its benefits and consequences.

This month, however, is about how and why those consequences manifest.

According to Reuters, “seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey said …read more

What Does the Future Hold for Energy Use in America?

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, AER Energy Perspectives and MER.

After declining for several years in a row, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions grew by 2% in 2013. This was largely due to an increase in the use of coal by electric power plants in the U.S., after a rise in the price of natural gas.

While this still left the U.S. 10% below 2005 levels, it is a move in the wrong direction. These findings follow President Obama’s recent second term push for national action on climate change, and call for an increase in the use of renewable energy …read more

“Hedonistic Sustainability”: How to Have Fun While Being Green

Confronting Comfort with Bjarke Ingels (Photo credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab)

When people think of environmental, green or eco-building projects they often imagine stripped down, minimalist structures, with interiors that are found lacking in functionality and comfort. But sustainable design does not have to be about giving things up and offering less to the user. Bjarke Ingels, of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), does just the opposite, with something he calls “hedonistic sustainability”.

A few years ago, BIG won an international competition to design a power plant that would convert human waste into energy in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ingels knew that the …read more

Things That Made Us Go “Hmmm…” in 2013

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2013 is coming to a close, and as another year passes us by, we pause to reflect, in the words of C+C Music Factory, on some of the things that made us go “Hmmm….” Following, in no particular order, is that list:

Winter 2013 in Zaatari refugee camp (Photo credit: Oxfam International)

1. Snow covers the ground in Egypt for the first time in 100 years. It was not only the worst snow storm to hit the Middle East in 50 years, but the snow and near freezing temperatures threatened thousands of Syrian refugees who lacked adequate shelter.

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Going Green in 2014

English: Kermit the Frog (Photo credit: Markus)

With less than 2 weeks left in 2013, lots of people are making New Year’s Resolutions in hopes of becoming better human beings. If you’re committed to Going Green in 2014 (that has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?) here are a few resources to make sure you stay on the energy efficient bandwagon.

For starters, you should probably know the definition of going green. According to Shauna Osborne, “Going green is a popular term used to describe the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the …read more

Can National Governments Lead the Way On Limiting Climate Change?

English: President Barack Obama talks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, President Obama called on the US government to lead by example and increase its use of renewable energy. The goal is for each government agency to get 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which would nearly triple the current usage standards. In recent years, the US government has been notable for its inaction on environmental issues, and climate scientists have been frustrated by a lack of positive legislation, but recent moves by the Obama administration have …read more

The Environmental Dangers of “Green Energy”

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (Photo credit: craigdietrich)

Way out in California’s Mojave Desert sit three 400-foot tall concrete towers surrounded by over 170,000 garage door sized mirrors, all of which are positioned to focus light onto three black colored vats full of water that sit atop the towers.

You would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon the set of the most recent James Bond movie, but actually this complex is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. The solar thermal farm, the largest of its kind in the world, is designed to focus the sun’s light to heat …read more

Can America Be Energy Independent?

Fracking’s Radioactive Dumping Ground (Photo credit: Truthout.org)

The vision of an energy independent America has become a popular topic in the political arena. It has become part of the President’s platform, while media pundits tempt us with this dream. But can it actually happen?

Simply put, no. Unless the President decided to nationalize all of America’s energy companies, energy independence is something that could never exist in a free-market capitalist system. Yet we constantly hear about the plethora of energy options that big energy companies are moving forward to create an energy independent America.

It is one big marketing …read more

The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For? Obama on Climate Change

Obama_sweating_bullets (Photo credit: Floyd Brown)

Obama’s speech at Georgetown University in June shocked many environmental advocates, in a good way. For the first time Obama stated that he would not approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline if it significantly increases climate pollution.

This was a shock to many because of the previous inaction by the federal government on the issue of climate change (see Congress’s failure to pass cap and trade) since Obama’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Now, there are many more positive signs coming from the White House.

At the Georgetown speech, Obama laid out …read more

Your Solar Powered House

I have never been one to really appreciate science. It was always my worst subject, and even with my love of NPR, I still can’t seem to be captured by Science Friday or Sky Watch. As I have gotten older, I recognize this as a personal flaw, more than a topical one. I’m learning though, that when it comes to the intersection of science and technology and energy independence, the complexities of science seem to come “down to earth” quite quickly.

This became even more apparent on a visit to see friends who had recently moved to New Mexico, where …read more