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MIT's artificial leaf is ten times more efficient than the real thing

MIT's artificial leaf is ten times more efficient than the real thing
Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf, made from stable and inexpensive materials, which mimics nature's photosynthesis process. The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity. Nocera's leaf is stable -- operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests -- and made of widely available, inexpensive materials -- like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. This isn't the first ever artificial leaf, of course. Related:  environmental issues

Fleeing Vesuvius: The psychological roots of resource over-consumption Here is my updated chapter from Fleeing Vesuvius The psychological roots of resource over-consumption Humans have an innate need for status and for novelty in their lives. Most people associate the word “sustainability” with changes to the supply side of our modern way of life such as using energy from solar flows rather than fossil fuels, recycling, green tech and greater efficiency. When addressing ‘demand-side drivers’, we must begin at the source: the human brain. This essay outlines two fundamental ways in which the evolutionarily derived reward pathways of our brains are influencing our modern overconsumption. Status Evolution has honed and culled ‘what worked’ by combining the substrate of life with eons’ worth of iterations. Status, both in humans and other species, has historically been a signaling mechanism that minimised the costs of competition, whether for reproductive opportunities or for material resources. Mating success is a key driver in the natural world. Novelty

A Simple Fix for Farming IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to. This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture. The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent. In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations.

Reliable Prosperity The Big Idea: Perennial Grains Humans made an unwitting but fateful choice 10,000 years ago as we started cultivating wild plants: We chose annuals. All the grains that feed billions of people today—wheat, rice, corn, and so on—come from annual plants, which sprout from seeds, produce new seeds, and die every year. "The whole world is mostly perennials," says USDA geneticist Edward Buckler, who studies corn at Cornell University. "So why did we domesticate annuals?" Not because annuals were better, he says, but because Neolithic farmers rapidly made them better—enlarging their seeds, for instance, by replanting the ones from thriving plants, year after year. Today an enthusiastic band of scientists has gone back to that fork in the road: They're trying to breed perennial wheat, rice, and other grains. We pay a steep price for our reliance on high yields and shallow roots, says soil scientist—and National Geographic emerging explorer—Jerry Glover of the Land Institute.

Information and communication technologies for environmental sustainability Information and Communication Technologies for Environmental Sustainability (ICT Ensure) is a general term referring to the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) within the field of environmental sustainability. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are acting as integrating and enabling technologies for the economy and they have a profound impact on our society. Recent changes in ICT use globally have impacted the environment negatively (in terms of waste and energy consumption etc) but also have the potential to support environmental sustainability activities[1] , such as the targets set within the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 7 (MDG7) to “ensure environmental sustainability”.[2] New technologies provide utilities for knowledge acquisition and awareness, early evaluation of new knowledge, reaching agreements and communication of progress in the interest of the human welfare. Application areas[edit] Further reading[edit] See also[edit]

Perennial Wheat Feasibility Study The Perennial Wheat Feasibility project assessed the feasibility of developing perennial wheat for Australia. Perennial wheat lines from Washington State University and The Land Institute (Kansas) were grown in the field in Cowra and Woodstock, New South Wales, together with various stable wheat/wheatgrass amphiploid hybrids from around the world. Some of these wheats were able to successfully yield grain for three consecutive years, effectively proving the concept of perennial wheat, particularly in the long season (high rainfall zone) temperate climates. Perennial wheat is created by crossing traditional annual wheat varieties with perennial grasses. The development of perennial wheat could have many advantages for future farming in Australia. Charles Sturt University, NSW Department of Primary Industries and CSIRO are continuing to assess opportunities to develop perennial wheat. Professor Len Wade, Charles Sturt University Richard Hayes, NSW DPI

Save The Arctic | Greenpeace La fin programmée de la civilisation du gâchis. Réflection faite. De quoi est fait notre avenir? Quel avenir pour notre civilisation? Dates d'puisement des ressources naturelles de notre planète. Nous vivons depuis longtemps sur la Terre, une accueillante petite planète d'un système stellaire parmi des milliards de milliards d'autres. Dans un univers qui vient de rien (on parle de fluctuation du vide) et qui a explosé il y a 13,7 milliards d'années, d'après notre dernière datation. Nous en avons conscience et nous nous posons des questions essentielles. Qu'est-ce que la vie ? Est-elle extrêmement répandue dans notre galaxie et dans les cent milliards d'autres, répondant à des lois chimiques universelles ou bien est-ce un phénomène rarissime au point que la Terre soit finalement une exception dans l'univers, l'héritière d'une somme incalculable de hasards tous aussi improbables les uns que les autres ? Tout irait bien dans le meilleur des mondes possibles si nous ne faisions pas les terribles observations suivantes : L'espèce dominante, Homo sapiens, a vaincu toutes les étapes de l'adaptation à toutes sortes de milieux souvent hostiles. 9 milliards d'habitants prévus en 2050.

7 Environmental Problems That Are Worse Than We Thought With as much attention as the environment has been getting lately, you’d think that we’d be further along in our fight to preserve the world’s species, resources and the beautiful diversity of nature. Unfortunately, things aren’t nearly that rosy. In fact, many of the environmental problems that have received the most public attention are even worse than we thought – from destruction in the rain forest to melting glaciers in the Arctic. We’ve got a lot of work to do. 7. Mammal Extinction Image via National Wildlife Federation One in four mammals is threatened with extinction . If you think the extinction of an animal like the beautiful Iberian Lynx is no big deal, and wouldn’t have that much of an effect on the planet, think again. 6. Image via NASA In oceans around the world, there are eerie areas that are devoid of nearly all life. As if that weren’t bad enough, global warming will likely aggravate the problem. 5. Image via Pew Environment Group 4. Image via Encyclopedia Britannica 3. 2.

World Energy Report (Infographic) Clean Power Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan "World Energy Report" (CLICK TO ENLARGE) OK, so this isn’t an official World Energy report just released by some international energy organization or research institute, but it is a fun infographic created by some friends of ours over at that helps to visualize and convey some key energy facts. One of the most striking points (visualized with the Big Macs) is how much more energy per person the U.S. and other developed nations use compared to India, China, or the world as a whole. “Clearly, Western Nations have been the key driver of climate change so far. How Do We Respond? Two key ways to respond to this would be increasing our energy efficiency (and there’s a ton of potential for that) and, of course, powering more of our country (or world) with clean energy, like wind and solar. The next part of the infographic shows that the U.S. is doing quite well (comparatively speaking) at installing wind power. Hear!

Sauvons les abeilles - Terre d'Abeilles The Story of Stuff Project Extreme Ice Survey | Art meets science.

Natural photosynthesis is so ancient that it cannot distinguish between carbon dioxide and oxygen - hence the low efficiency. by pauljacobson May 12

The end of the Age of Burning? It is coming! Of course, Nocera's work is focussed on a hydrogen & oxygen economy - different in quality from the water-based economy of electricity and oxygen that will be the ultimate solution. Check it out in my New Energy Pearltree. by pauljacobson Apr 1