Oil spill may result in ecological disaster


Photo from fOTOGLIF

The photo above shows birds flying over a wildlife protected area, south of Venice, Louisiana. The United States scrambled on Friday to ward off an ecological disaster that could cost billions of dollars as a huge, spreading oil spill reached coastal Louisiana, imperiling wildlife and seafood areas.

Rescue crews are already rescuing the first bird coated with oil from the spill. Meanwhile, government officials have been criticizing BP, while the Obama administration said that any future drilling plans will be delayed pending an investigation of this disaster.

Venture capital starting to look at sustainable agriculture

This is a very encouraging story. Serious early-stage investors are taking a close look at what many are calling Agriculture 2.0. Trends like urban farming have tremendous potential, and innovative trends like that can accelerate with the backing of Silicon Valley.

“Sustainable agriculture is a space that looks as big or bigger than clean tech,” said Paul Matteucci, a venture capitalist with U.S. Venture Partners in Menlo Park, Calif. “Historically, we have not seen a ton of entrepreneurial activity in agriculture, but we are beginning to see it now, and the opportunities are huge.”

A catch-all phrase for environmentally beneficial farming, sustainable agriculture has long been the province of organic enthusiasts. But venture capitalists say a growing awareness of conventional agriculture’s contribution to climate change and concerns over its consumption of water and energy are creating markets for technological innovation to minimize those effects.

The Johnny Appleseed of what is being called Agriculture 2.0 is a 33-year-old former Wall Street investment banker named Janine Yorio. Her New York firm, NewSeed Advisors, brings together sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs and investors.

At the Four Seasons hotel in East Palo Alto, Calif., last month, NewSeed Advisors attracted a crowd of well-dressed investors from some of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms. They packed a ballroom to hear entrepreneurs pitch start-ups developing everything from nontoxic pesticides and analytical tools for soil analysis to indoor urban farming systems.

I think the urban farming trend in particular has huge potential, particularly in Rust Belt cities like Detroit and Cleveland.

Earth Day today!

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Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which is celebrated April 22 every year. We’ve come very far in 40 years in terms of individuals making a positive impact on the environment, particularly on cleaner air and water, but in many ways the challenges today are even greater.

Adam Rose has a great posted on Wired.com about the significance of the original Earth Day.

Larry Carroll offers up Earth Day lessons to be learned from the movie “Avatar.”

BusinessWeek explains how “air like split-pee soup” in LA helped spur the first Earth Day.

USA Today asks if at 40 Earth Day has gone too corporate.

There are tons of great articles out there, and frankly this is an exciting time as new technologies and a new commitment from government is spurring a real effort to accelerate the changes made over the past 40 years.

nPower Personal Energy Generator (PEG)

One of the great developments in the green energy revolution is the notion of mobile energy sources. In our new mobile world, running out of power for our devices is to be avoided at all costs. Now, we have plenty of new options for mobile power such as battery packs, but new devices that rely upon kinetic energy maybe the coolest developments yet. Here’s a recent review of such a gadget:

Set to release later this year, the nPower PEG keeps your gadgets charge while you roam Gotham’s rooftops. The PEG harnesses the kinetic energy of your movement to keep any device that can be charged via USB at full. The thing that sets the PEG apart from other kinetic chargers is its shape and size. It fits perfectly into a backpack or satchel. If you’re in a pinch you could always just stuff this bad boy in the front of your superhero garb. Is that a PEG in your pants?

This will definitely be one of the coolest green products of the year.

Online Printing Offers Eco-Friendly Options

As consumers begin to understand the effect of their carbon footprint, online printing companies are introducing more eco-friendly options. From soy-based inks to recycled paper, printers have green choices designed to fit your needs and ideas. New technology has decreased the cost of eco-friendly printing, allowing more businesses to consider it. In some cases, green printing is no more expensive than any other type of printing.

Soy-based inks took eco-friendly online printing to a new level. Made from a renewable or sustainable source, the soy-based inks also have an added benefit: the ink releases less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as it dries than its predecessor, petroleum-based ink. Plus, many online printers believe that soy-based inks offer more vibrant colors than other ones.

With print on demand (POD) options, online printing companies can offer lower prices for smaller print runs. This means businesses no longer have to order over 1,000 copies of one product to get the price break. One benefit this has for the environment is it creates less waste in landfills. In the past, businesses would order more than they needed to reduce the overall cost for marketing. At the end of the promotion, they’d toss the leftover products.

Online printing companies have the added advantage of using the Internet and computer software to reduce their costs. With design software, a graphic designer can create custom marketing pieces without having to use paper. For proofs, online printers often send e-mails.

As part of their environmentally friendly efforts, online printing firms use recycling in a couple of ways. Customers who like to use printers online often appreciate the selection of recycled papers available for business cards, postcards, brochures, and other marketing material. Some recycled papers offer top-of-the-line quality, such as a 13-point matte finish. Printing companies often recycle press cuts, further reducing their carbon footprints.

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