The reliance on bottled water rather than fountains also has serious environmental effects. According to the Earth Policy Institute, it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to create the 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans use each year. (That’s enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.) Less than a quarter of those bottles are recycled. And these statistics don’t even account for the fuel used in transporting the water around the country and the world.

Bottled water is also expensive. Drinking eight glasses of tap water a day costs about 49 cents a year. If you got that hydration exclusively from bottles, you’d pay about $1,400, or 2,900 times more. If you’re living at the poverty line, that’s 10 percent of your income.

The German city of Hamburg has announced plans to become car-free within the next two decades. It is an ambitious idea, but city officials obviously feel that the personal motorcar does not fulfill a function that walking, biking and taking public transport cannot.

The goal of Hamburg’s project is to replace roads with a “gruenes netz” or a green network of interconnected open areas covering 40% of the city. According to the official website, parks, playgrounds, sports fields, allotments and cemeteries will be connected to form a network, which will allow people to navigate through the city without the use of cars.

Very often, new palm oil plantations result in the clearing of rainforest. Researchers at Princeton University have shown that more than half of the palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia are located in areas where there used to be rainforest. So by choosing a specific product, the consumer unwittingly has an impact on deforestation of rainforest and the fate of endangered species like orangutans or tigers.

We decided to combine our energy innovation study’s best-case scenario results with Hansen’s climate model to see whether a 55 percent emission cut by 2050 would bring the world back below that 350-ppm threshold. Our calculations revealed otherwise. Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others. Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.

Science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar has gained extensive access to Japan's battered Fukushima power plant. He speaks to DW about exploring radiation-contaminated zones, and how the cleanup has progressed so far.

Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than thought—at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time.

Designed to fit alongside the appliances in and blend into the décor of your kitchen, Grove Labs’ device lets you grow fruits and vegetables hydroponically, without leaving your house. The whole setup includes the hydroponic chamber, which you can monitor through the transparent encasement, as well as a mobile app to keep track of growing conditions and link up to vendors to replenish your materials. The Grove Labs team calls the contraption a grove, not to be confused with a greenhouse.

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh-water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease,” reported the 2004 July/August issue of World Watch Magazine.

Think for a second how much energy is literally washed down the drain when you take a shower. Not the water itself — just the energy that’s lost when you heat up said water, pump it through a series of pipes to your showerhead, and then let all that warm goodness run straight down your body and into a hole in the floor. By some estimates, 80 to 90 percent of the energy it takes to heat that water ends up going straight to the sewer. Considering the fact that the energy required to heat water is one of the biggest energy expenditures at home (right behind heating/cooling/ventilation), that’s a monumental waste of juice. But not to worry; there’s a new device on the market that could help to recapture some of that wasted energy.

It’s called EcoDrain, and while it’s definitely not a new concept, it’s a fresh new take on an old idea, and finally makes waste heat recovery a viable possibility for regular homeowners.

There are many designs for efficient stoves, and gasification is only one way to boost the efficiency of a cooking fire. The wood gas stove in this article is an elegantly simple gasifier design called a TLUD stove (for top-lit updraft), also known as an inverted downdraft stove. If you don’t care how it looks, you can build it with a can opener, a punch, and a big rock. This design, which I’ve adapted from one I first saw on Instructables, is built around a 1-quart paint can. It easily boils enough water for a small pot of tea or a bowl of noodles, using nothing more than a fist-sized charge of scrap wood.

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