Science & Technology

01/16/2012

Ford Motor Company Named Most Earth Friendly Automaker

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2012 Earth Angel Award - Most Earth Friendly Automaker - Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company Receives
5th Annual EARTH ANGEL AWARD
as Most Earth Friendy Automaker

by Martha Hindes

Going green has become a way of life at Ford Motor Company. From company President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally to those who tend to company property and grounds, protecting the environment is a primary responsibility on a daily basis.

Those familiar with buildings near company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan can see some of that commitment first hand, where fields of air purifying flowers bloom during summer months and a nearby production facility wears a "green" roof of plants to help purify and recycle runoff water used there.

Ford was one of the earliest companies to recognize the need for an environmentally sustainable way of doing business and to begin that transformation to achieve it. That commitment has become reflected in every Ford facility, in the materials used in production and in the atmosphere it encourages throughout the company.

In the 12th annual Ford Sustainability Report Ford put out last June, it cited progress in improving fuel economy and safety and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and water use among its sustainable operations.

"Since 2000, our manufacturing facilities worldwide have reduced overall energy use by 40 percent, decreased CO2 emissions by 49 percent and cut water use by 62 percent," said Mulally in presenting the report. Full story.

01/07/2012

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Wins Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year - Most Earth Friendly

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2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI - 2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year - Most Earth Friendly

by Martha Hindes

With hybrid and electric autos taking the share of attention in America these days, is there room for a rebel with a cause? What about a family-sized sedan that takes a different direction from the crowd and plants its reputation solidly on the least popular auto technology, but one of the most promising to come down the interstate in a long time? What if it offered more interior room for five, at less or comparable cost, with higher mileage than its competitors down the block. That might sound like the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI turbo diesel.

After a year on the sidelines, the front-drive Passat is making reappearance on the national scene for 2012 with a number of changes. A noticeable transition is its switch from more limited near-luxury level status to a mainstream, competitive cost, made-in-the U.S. participant. This isn't your mother's Passat of yesterday with a hint of snob appeal and exclusivity. This newest offering is meant more for the masses. And if Volkswagen got it right, not only will it put more Passats on the road but will help to bring diesel autos to the forefront.

Diesel technology has been more rare in America than in other countries for a number of reasons. A major one is the thankfully faded memory of earlier diesel auto tailpipes that belched thick smoke while their engines grunted with the effort of climbing almost any hill. About five years ago industry regulators got serious and began phasing in mandated Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel with more stringent emissions standards that included scrubbing away those annoying bits of grit  diesels used to leave behind. Companies like VW, mostly the European brands, responded by bringing in engines that run clean and lean, while generally gaining higher mileage than their gas-fueled counterparts.

While that might seem like a pretty strong claim, let’s compare some results. The often heavily tax incentivized hybrid cars that mate gasoline engines with battery-powered electric motors have reached the 40 mpg mark and in a few cases more, after years of costly development and continuing market hype. Electric only autos coming on scene require a place to plug in. But the TDI (for turbo diesel injected) version of Passat rips off a cool 31/43 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel with manual transmission, or a no-slouch 30/40 with automatic, all riding on a 2.0-liter, 140-horsepower inline four. The Selective Catalytic Reduction System ensures this earth friendly clean diesel vehicle meets the emissions requirements of all 50 states.

Those are some of the reasons the Earth, Wind & Power award's jurors chose the Volkswagen Passat TDI as the 2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year for Most Earth Friendly.

According to Courtney Caldwell, founder and director of the awards and publisher of Earth, Wind & Power Magazine, the award determined by a field of longtime, well-known auto journalists goes to the production vehicle that contributes most to eliminating pollution and protecting the environment while providing the most exciting, pleasurable and useful driving experience around.

 “The 2012 VW Passat TDI beat out its competition by a landslide,” said Caldwell. "The vehicle not only is fuel efficient and eco-friendly, but its styling, performance, power and pricing leaves one feeling like they’re driving a high performance vehicle with no tell tale signs of lag or noise that other diesel engine vehicles tend to still leave behind." [Full story]

 

05/13/2011

Tips to Conserve Electricity (and Money) this Spring

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Electricity bill The drudges of winter are slowly coming to end, and along with warmer temperatures comes longer days (requiring fewer lamp-lit evenings) and open windows (leading to fresh, rather than forced, air flow) throughout your home. And all of these seasonal adjustments add up... to a less expensive electricity bill!

In addition to reducing your eco footprint, a few simple steps can help you to cut your energy usage and keep some cash in your pocket.

Focus on the Fridge
Often overlooked, this appliance is one of the largest consumers of energy in your home. Think about it; it's always on. And while it's running, it can eat up approximately 8 percent of your electric bill. An easy way to help a fridge run more efficiently is to clean the outside coils twice a year.

Don't Forget to Look Up
Don't forget about ceiling fans! Double-check that all are working properly and are dust-free and then redirect fans to circulate counterclockwise in the summertime, pushing from the ceiling down to create a cooling effect.

And then Look Out
Windows, windows, windows. In addition to turning off the therostat when possible, replace your storm windows with screens to allow air to circulate in moderate temperatures. 

Automate It 
If you haven't already, install a programmable thermostat to help adjust to unpredictable changes in temp and humidity. As the air outside heats up, adjust your thermostat to the warmest comfortable temperature for you to save dollars when the bill is due. 

For more eco-friendly tips, visit Earth Tones.

 

05/04/2011

Hybrid Houses of the Future

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EcoTechDesign Home Suited to Jetson-family taste with its shiny exterior and sleek lines, this off-the-grid hybrid house in California is made of plain old shipping containers, despite its futuristic façade. Using high-efficiency construction methods that go beyond standard prefab building, this smartly designed home is a sustainable, affordable option for green-minded families and features a whole slew of eco-friendly features. 

With a solar home shading system and “living roof” that uses grey water to nurture native plants, the all-steel construction house is unusually strong, offering earthquake, fire and wind protection alongside extreme efficiency. In fact, the simply designed home can be pre-engineered so that its cargo container pieces are assembled in less than an hour, according to sustainable architecture company, EcoTechDesign.

Plenty of sunlight, lots of space for greenery, and an outdoor breezeway add up to the perfect Mojave desert home, if Southern California’s warm-weather atmosphere suits your style. We'd add some solar panels to the roof, park an electric car or hybrid in the driveway and host one heck of an open house if we had the keys to a green home like this. Tell us, what would your dream green home look like if you could design it from the ground up?

For more information on green news, visit Earth Tones.

06/01/2010

Global Warming 101 - Understand the Facts

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Brought to you by the Union of Concerned Scientists

Earth mask Global warming is well underway and will have wide-ranging consequences for our health and well-being.  The primary cause of global warming is from human activity, most significantly burning of fossil fuels to drive cars, generate electricity, and operate our homes and businesses.  Tropical deforestation accounts for about 15 percent of global warming emissions.

When too much global warming pollution is released into the air, it acts like a blanket, trapping heat in our atmosphere and altering weather patterns globally and here in the U.S. We need to deeply reduce the heat-trapping emissions causing this effect if we are to address global warming

By choosing to invest in clean and efficient energy technologies, industries, and approaches, we can greatly reduce the consequences of our changing climate.  We have ample technology and ingenuity to reduce the threat of global warming today. By ramping up our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive, we can take essential steps toward reducing our global warming pollution, and in the process transform our energy system to one that is cleaner and less dependent on oil and other fossil fuels.

For more that 20 years, UCS has worked together with leading climate experts from the scientific community to educate U.S. decision makers and the public about climate change and implement practical solutions at the federal, regional and state level.  Our experts include climate scientists and economists, as well as technical experts in the energy and transportation sectors.  We also work on international solutions to climate change, with particular emphasis on preserving tropical forests.

Learn more . . .

New Senate Bill Will Rein In Global Warming Pollution

The Union of Concerned Scientists ask you to urge your senators to strengthen and pass scientifically-sound, comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year. Click here for more information on how to participate.

Get Involv

05/28/2010

How Science Is Improving Our Understanding Of Nature

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Birdmigration For centuries, scientists have engaged in research that has increased our understanding of nature and    how natural forces work to create and sustain the world and universe we see today. The purpose of science is to follow a process of making careful and unbiased observations in order to generate knowledge about the world through tested theories based on the scientific observations. Although theories may not guarantee the absolute truth about a particular scientific theory, the idea is to get as close to an accurate approximation of the truth. The result will lead to a more accurate and credible understanding of how the natural world works.

Scientists seek to learn as much as possible about the nature of the world. By using intellect, the aid of scientific study devices, and formulated scientific hypothesis, scientists now have a better understanding of nature. For instance, the principles of motion and the law of gravity are applicable when studying other parts of the universe, even if we have yet to travel to these areas. The same principles can be applied to other forces such as seeking to understand ocean tides, bird migrations, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Scientists study patterns both in the natural world and in laboratories using technologically advanced research devices to gather data, take measurements, and make their observations and create their scientific theories. The result is an improved understanding of nature.

Science also helps us understand how we evolved. By studying such elements as fossils of species that once roamed the earth millions of years ago, various rocks and other matter located deep within the earth, skeletal remains of dinosaurs, and the remains of prehistoric man and early primates, scientists have made many significant discoveries about how we evolved. In fact, such famous scientists as Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin, have all contributed important theories and data that have brought us even closer to understanding how the universe emerged and developed.

Globalwarmingpipes How science has reconstructed the events in the history of the planet and its life forms have led to remarkable improvements and insight into how nature works. For instance, by studying the contours of the ocean floors, the shape of continents, the effects of a volcano eruption and earthquake, and where different fossils have been found, we get a better understanding of why our continents reside where they are and how human populations and species migrated and evolved to what we see today. We also get a better understanding of the results of the ice age and the effect it had on the types of species we have today. Understanding how the world evolved and the changes that took place also helps us to better understand current world problems such as the effects of Global Warming which is essential to finding ways to slow it down. By understanding how nature and its natural forces work, we are better able to come up with ways to manage the planet and its inhabitants.

Because science relies heavily on accurate and unbiased data, there is a constant development of advanced techniques and instruments which has lead to many astounding discoveries in the world and universe. For instance, the Hubble Telescope has resulted in many astounding discoveries about the stars, planets, black holes, and even far away galaxies. With advanced computer systems and other technologically advanced instrument, the future for scientific discovery looks bright concerning our understanding of the history of the universe and the history of life on earth.

It will be interesting to follow the progression of nature and science in the years ahead. physics research will also be developed and integrated into even more systems that we use in everyday life.

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