How a 30-Second Video Could Land You a 5 Gyres Expedition Seat

A 30-to-45-second video will land somebody a spot on an Iceland expedition to examine plastic pollution distribution across gyres. Photo credit: 5 Gyres

The 5 Gyres Institute is searching for some help with a June expedition to Iceland, and a 30-to-45-second video could land you a spot on its Sea Dragon sailing vessel.

Three years ago, the nonprofit organization found evidence of plastic in all five oceanic current systems as part of the world’s first global survey of plastic marine pollution. Now, the group is heading to the Atlantic North from June 7 to June 29 to understand the density and distribution of microplastic pollution across the subtropical and subpolar gyres. The winning contestant will receive airfare to Bermuda and back from Iceland, in addition to an expedition spot. The organization says that prize is worth $10,000.

The winer will be decided by an online vote at 5gyres.org—the same site where people can enter the contest.

A 30-to-45-second video will land somebody a spot on an Iceland expedition to examine plastic pollution distribution across gyres. Photo credit: 5 Gyres

A 30-to-45-second video will land somebody a spot on an Iceland expedition to examine plastic pollution distribution across gyres. Photo credit: 5 Gyres

“5 Gyres expeditions are like an activist factory,” said Stiv J. Wilson, who joined 5 Gyres after quitting another sea job. “Several other people from our expeditions have gone on to start organizations focused on plastics issues. We empower people with knowledge and an authentic vantage from gyre central to make a difference. And they do.”

Video submissions should include an explanation of what the entrant would do with the acquired knowledge and why they should be selected. Anybody can vote online by viewing 5 Gyres’ video gallery. The organization is accepting submissions through April 22.

Wilson admits that the price tag on most exhibitions can be cost-prohibitive, which is why the organization wanted to help an individual with the drive and desire to research plastic pollution.

“It’s always been our practice on expeditions try to subsidize one of the seats ourselves and invite someone for free,” he said. “This time around, we decided to let our community decide who that is.”

Sustainable companies and organizations like Packaging 2.0, Klean Kanteen, Manduka, Ocean Care, Zeal Optics, Rainbow Light, Osprey Packs, PLUSfoam and Indosole are all sponsoring the expedition along with 5Gyres.

As 5 Gyres recruits entries for the contest, it reminds people that the expedition won’t be the least bit glamorous. In fact, it’s “hardcore.”

“This isn’t a pleasure cruise, this is a hardcore sailing adventure aboard a working ship where crew will be expected to participate in every aspect of the expedition,” according to the institute. “This is includes participating in plastic research, ship navigation and handling and sharing all onboard duties with the other crew.”

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144 Bipartisan Congress Members Request Wind Tax Credit Renewals

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are leading the charge for the renewal of tax credit to benefit wind energy. Photo credit: Office of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

There are 80,000 people in the U.S. who are employed in the wind energy industry—an industry that has secured $105 billion in investments since 2005.

At the same time, the cost to deploy the energy has dropped by 43 percent in four years and wind has risen to become the fifth-largest power source in the U.S.

A bipartisan group of 144 Congressional members says that growth didn’t happen without the support of the U.S. government. If the form of renewable energy is to continue limiting emissions, wind energy will need another economic boost in the form of tax-credit renewal, the senators and representatives wrote in a pair of letters to the Senate Finance Committee’s leadership.

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are leading the charge for the renewal of tax credit to benefit wind energy. Photo credit: Office of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are leading the charge for the renewal of tax credit to benefit wind energy. Photo credit: Office of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

 U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) encouraged 24 other senators to sign a letter urging the finance committee to include renewals of the production and investment tax credits as part of any legislation that renews other credits.

“Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long term project decisions and investments can be made,” the letter reads. “Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created.

“Furthermore, we risk weakening our national energy security by failing to foster such an important source of clean, domestic energy.”

Two U.S. House of Representatives members from Iowa—Democrat Dave Loebsack and Republican Steve King—crafted a companion letter to the finance committee with 118 other signatures from around the House.

Environment America’s federal global warming program director Julian Boggs says this type of across-the-aisle cooperation gives wind energy proponents the best chance at reviving the two credits.

“This is exactly the kind of bipartisan effort needed to overcome the gridlock blocking the renewal of commonsense, popular and vital investments in clean energy,” Boggs said. “It’s the 21st century: we have the technology to produce clean energy that doesn’t threaten our climate or our children’s future.”

Political groups have been calling for tax-credit renewal before and after the 2013 expirations of the investment (ITC) and production (PTC) tax credits, but this is easily the largest group to band together. In November, 11 governors, known as the Governors Wind Energy Coalition, requested an extension from Congress. The same group also met with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February to prepare the energy grid for more wind power.

In December, former U.S. Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus proposed a PTC extension, but only through 2016. In February, U.S. House of Representative Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, (R-MI), announced a PTC extension that would retroactively reduce the credit from about 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of produced energy to 1.5 cents. The incentive would then be eliminated in 10 years.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-LA, recently declared the PTC to be “dead”. Outside of tax credits, President Barack Obama proposed about $28 billion in renewable energy investments last month as part of the 2015 budget.

“Each day that passes without tax incentives in place for wind energy means more delay in expanding pollution-free renewable energy that never runs out, and a greater risk of long-term damage to America’s growing clean energy economy,” Boggs said. “The Senate and the House should act quickly to restore the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit for wind energy.”

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

Environmental Film Festival Avoids 151 Tons of Carbon With Wind Energy

The 22nd annual Environmental Film Festival will avoid 151 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through the use of renewable energy credits. Photo credit: Environmental Film Festival on Faceback

As tourists and movie enthusiasts continue taking in a record 200 films from 38 countries over the course of 13 days at the 22nd annual Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C., they’re doing it with the aid of wind energy.

Green Power Offsets, a Houston, TX-based provider of site-specific renewable energy credits (RECs), has dontated 200,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of RECs to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity use of the ongoing festival. 

The 22nd annual Environmental Film Festival will avoid 151 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through the use of renewable energy credits. Photo credit: Environmental Film Festival on Faceback

The 22nd annual Environmental Film Festival will avoid 151 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through the use of renewable energy credits. Photo credit: Environmental Film Festival on Faceback

“Without this donation, the power consumption of the offices, venues, and film screenings of the Environmental Film Festival would have generated an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to over 15,000 gallons of consumed gasoline,” Green Power Offsets’ Stephan Blasilli said in a statement.

According to Green Power Offsets, each REC eliminates the carbon dioxide emissions of 1,000 kWh of electricity. The EPA defines them as the “property rights to the environmental, social and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation.” The credits represent the renewable attribute of produced energy distinguishing them from other energy sources.

The RECs will help 65-venue film festival avoid about 151 tons of carbon emissions. 

“Green Power Offsets is proud to support the Environmental Film Festival’s mission of advancing the public’s understanding of the environment through film, and to help its decision to lead by example in reducing its carbon footprint and choosing responsible, clean and renewable energy,” Blasilli said. 

The company, a subsidiary of EDP Renewables North America LLC., has three wind farms in Oklahoma, Indiana and Illinois. Its largest, Meadow Lake Wind Farm in in northwestern Indiana provides 500.85 megawatts, which is enough to power nearly 150,000 average American homes per year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

World Water Day: How Levi Strauss Saved 770 Million Liters in Two Years

Photo credit: Levi Strauss & Co.

In honor of today, 2014 World Water Day, one company has decided to show just how much water it has saved in a relatively short period of time.

Levi Strauss & Co. launched a new line of jeans in 2011 specifically to save water during its process. By reducing about 96 percent of the water used in the finishing process, it’s safe to say the company reached its goal.

While making 50 million garments for its Water

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The company saved that much water by removing it from its stone washes and using a single wet process instead of multiple machine-wash cycles. 

Here’s a look at how Levi Strauss creates jeans while saving water:

Graphic credit: Levi Strauss & Co.

Graphic credit: Levi Strauss & Co.

Back in 1994, the company established water quality requirements for treatment after the company uses water to finish its jeans with different shades. Levi Strauss says water leaves its factories cleaner than when it entered. Now, the company says it is committed to recycling water as many times as possible to create its jeans.

“Water is a very precious resource, and by recycling it, more will be available for the environment and for communities,” Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co., said earlier this year.

Water conservation is one of many sustainability initiatives at Levi Strauss. Last fall the company announced its sustainable sourcing process for its Dockers brand.

Visit EcoWatch’s SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS page for more related news on this topic

How Wind Energy Can Conserve Europe’s Water and Save Billions

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It’s no secret that multiple countries within the European Union have a strong track record in onshore and offshore wind energy. However, the latest report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) frames the advances of wind energy around an issue that won’t disappear anytime soon—water security.

EWEA’s Saving Water With Wind Energy begins with statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showing that 40 percent 0f the world’s population will face severe water stress conditions by 2050. That could include water pollution and scarcity. In the EU, 11 percent of the population had already been impacted by scarcity by 2007. Droughts of the past 30 years in the continent cost the U.S. equivalent of $1.4 billion.

What uses the most water in the EU? Power production to cool thermal or nuclear power plants checks in at 44 percent. Meanwhile, the EU says wind power uses virtually no water.

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“Replacing thermal and nuclear power stations with wind energy is therefore a key step in the fight to conserve and protect Europe’s precious water resource and hedge against future power shortages due to water-dependent electricity production,” the report reads.

The report also found: 

The water used by thermal electricity generation and nuclear is about the same as the average annual household water usage of 82 million EU citizens or the entire population of Germany

Wind energy has helped avoid the use of 1.2 billion cubic meters of water in 2012. That’s about the amount of the average annual household water use of about 22 million EU citizens

Wind power will avoid between 4.3 billion and 6.4 billion cubic meters of water

In 2030, avoided water costs could total between $16.3 billion and $24 billion, as a result of increased wind energy.

“To maximize wind energy’s water protection benefits—as well as its other benefits such as fossil fuel import reduction, job creation and carbon dioxide emission reduction—the EU must put in place an ambitious post-2020 EU climate and energy framework including an ambitious binding renewables target for 2030,” the report suggests.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic. 

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