Most Clicked SmartBrief on Sustainability Stories

1. What does Elon Musk have against hydrogen?

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 27, 2015

Toyota is rolling out the Mirai, a hydrogen-powered, fuel-cell automobile that takes five minutes to recharge, comes with three years of free gas and emits only water vapor. EV pioneer Elon Musk called the technology "incredibly dumb," but Toyota execs brushed off the Tesla chief's criticism. "If I was in a position where I had all my eggs in one basket, I would perhaps be making those same comments," said Toyota Senior Vice President Bob Carter. Washington Post (tiered subscription model), The (02/25)

2. Keurig hack lets coffee lovers use compostable pods

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 25, 2015

Keurig's single-cup coffee brewers contain DRM-type technology -- but rival Rogers Family Coffee has now introduced a clip-in part to cancel out Keurig's protections and allow the use of other manufacturers' coffee pods. The move allows the use of third-party compostable pods, letting coffee drinkers enjoy their brew without creating the waste associated with Keurig's single-use, nonrecyclable pods. Guardian (London), The (02/24)

3. A bird's-eye view of Big Solar

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 26, 2015

Photographer Jamey Stillings has been traveling the world to capture aerial images of the world's biggest solar power installations. "I want to create a visual counterpoint, to show, for example, the differences in the environmental impact of five square miles of solar panels and that of five square miles of coal mining," he says. (02/26)

4. LED bulbs help Japan recover from Fukushima disaster

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 26, 2015

Japan is embracing LED lighting in a bid to curb its energy use in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which saw about 30% of Japan's energy supply taken offline. About 73 million high-efficiency light bulbs have been sold since 2011, and researchers are also exploring technologies such as regenerative braking for subway cars, and vending machines that recycle their waste heat. "There's no doubt Japan has some of the most advanced technologies in energy saving," says Takumi Fujinami of the Japan Research Institute. Bloomberg (02/25)

5. What will Europe do when the sun goes dark?

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Mar 02, 2015

Europe is growing increasingly reliant on solar energy to keep juice flowing through its electrical grid -- and that could mean problems when a total solar eclipse breezes across the continent later this month. Total PV input to the grid will dip by about 30 GW for the duration of the eclipse -- and while that's a manageable hiccup, further increases in solar adoption might mean the region faces a much bigger challenge during the next eclipse, in 2026. Grist (02/26)

6. Brazil brings charges against "Deforestation King"

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 25, 2015

Ezequiel Antonio Castanha, the Amazon's so-called King of Deforestation, has been arrested in Brazil on deforestation charges that could bring a prison term of up to 46 years. His logging group is believed to have illegally cleared an area of rain forest equivalent to two and a half times the size of Manhattan. Atlantic online, The (02/24)

7. Researchers spot the greenhouse effect in action

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 26, 2015

Researchers have directly observed the greenhouse effect in action for the first time, using specialized instruments to measure energy fluctuations and demonstrate that greenhouse emissions are trapping solar heat and warming the planet. "Numerous studies show rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, but our study provides the critical link between those concentrations and the addition of energy to the system, or the greenhouse effect," explains lead author Daniel Feldman. Mashable (02/25)

8. What McDonald's sustainability chief learned from Bob Dylan

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Mar 02, 2015

Outgoing McDonald's sustainability chief Bob Langert says he's a child of the '60s and still firmly believes in the "social revolution" preached by figures such as Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK. "This was in my blood. So when I had that temporary assignment, I thought, 'This is for me.' And it's been a wonderful journey ever since," he said. (03/02)

9. Wal-Mart aims to show the power of an eco-label

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 26, 2015

Wal-Mart has created a new online eco-badging program in a bid to drive its suppliers to improve their environmental standards. "What Wal-Mart is very excited about today is using this tool to inspire a race to the top," explains Wal-Mart product sustainability chief Robert Kaplan. (02/25)

10. Solar companies, utilities square off over net metering

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Feb 25, 2015

Utility companies are lobbying state regulators and lawmakers to allow them to impose fees on domestic solar installations or to make it harder for homeowners to sell surplus energy back to the grid. Solar proponents say that's a sign of utility companies' desperation. "More competition is good for everyone, except the utility monopolies," says Bryan Miller, vice president of public policy for Sunrun. "Eventually they will ... become deregulated and broken up, because the markets have to open." CNBC (02/24)

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