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globalbriefs


Pivot Point Solar Panels Almost Breaking Even


At current growth rates, solar energy could be harnessed to produce 10 percent of the world’s electricity by 2020. But the greater benefit of clean solar power relies on first realizing an efficient initial payback for all the energy needed to produce the panels. To make polysilicon, the basic building block of most solar photovoltaic (PV)


panels, silica rock must be melted at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, using electricity from mostly coal-fired power plants. Stanford University researchers believe that a tipping point when clean electricity from installed solar panels surpasses the energy going into the industry’s continued growth will occur by 2015. As the industry has advanced, it’s required ever less energy and silicon to manu- facture and install solar PV panels, along with less wasted silicon, according to Stan- ford University’s Global Climate & Energy Project. Advances in solar cell efficiency requires fewer panels, and new thin-film solar panels leave out silicon altogether.


Source: Sustainable Business News


Course Correction Climate Science Curriculum Update


Millions of young Americans are beginning to learn about climate change and associated science in the classroom. Next Generation Science Standards (NextGenScience.org), which have been adopted by 26 states and are


under consideration by 15 more, teach how and why fossil fuel emissions are a causal factor in overheating the world.


The previous federal science teaching standards, published in 1996, avoided the issues of evolution and climate change. Scientists and educators jointly developed the new standards with states’ input to help students distinguish between scientific fact, religious beliefs and political opinion.


Source: InsideClimateNews.org


Garbage Galore A Swirling Southern Patch of Plastic Trash


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and North Atlantic Garbage Patch have already been well documented, and the trashy family is growing. The South Pacific Gyre is an accumulation zone of plastic pollution floating off the coast of Chile. Scientists at the 5 Gyres Institute, which


tracks plastic pollution in swirling subtropical gyres (vortices), discovered this latest mass of


plastic by examining ocean currents. A new study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin marks the first documentation of a defined oceanic garbage patch in the Southern Hemisphere, where sparse research on marine plastic pollution previously existed.


View a map and find more information at 5Gyres.org. natural awakenings October 2013 13


Krill Kill Core Marine Food Source Faces Depletion


Small, shrimp-like creatures that inhabit the world’s oceans, krill are one of the planet’s largest and least contaminated biomasses. The tiny crustaceans are the primary food source for a variety of fish, whales, penguins and seabird species. Krill are also used to make feed for live- stock, poultry and farmed fish and in nutritional supplements—krill oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and less likely than fish oil to be contaminated with mercury or heavy metals.


Recent studies cited by National


Geographic suggest that since the 1970s, Antarctic krill stocks may have dropped by up to 80 percent. Environmental groups and scientists worry that new fishing technologies, coupled with climate warming that removes ice algae, the crustaceans’ primary food source, could deplete krill populations and potentially devastate the Antarctic’s ecosystem. Denzil Miller, Ph.D., former executive secretary of the Com- mission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, advises, “There are a whole lot of dominoes that follow afterwards that just look too horrendous to contem- plate.” Concerned consumers can opt to avoid farm-raised fish; choose organic, non-grain-fed meat and poultry; and substitute algae-derived omega-3 supplements for fish or krill oil capsules.


Source: Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (asoc.org)


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