Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Feeling like information is coming at you from all angles, you are probably not alone. Internet, Computers and the once humble cell phone have become avenues for information and a fair bit of the information you have to process is really irrelevant in the wider scheme of things.

How did the present get so tense takes a candid look (straight forward & colourful language included) at why this is happening all around us today.

In our next story we look at how humanity is doing in general, well according to this article it’s been heading downhill since 1978 when global per capita peaked. While GDP is a good economic indicator it doesn’t measure the things that may be important to us as individuals, air, water quality and general wellness. Perhaps GDP should incorporate other more meaningful indictors and then we will have better appreciation of how we are actually doing.

Sustainable is a word we hear a lot these days, this even goes as far as explaining why job seekers prefer working for a sustainable company. Three reasons given aren’t overly complex either; source of pride, sustainability implies the company cares about its employees and helps job seekers connect with their own personal values.

Staying with the sustainable front we next look at 10 reasons green leases create value for tenants and landlords (a win-win situation); simply, a green lease is an arrangement that offers substantial benefits for all concerned.

Why not include a self-sustaining building in your green lease for those ever keen job seekers looking to work for that sustainable company, well this type of building is becoming more of a real alternative each day. The latest addition to this building stock has just opened in Guangzhou, China and has been hailed as one of the most environmentally friendly structure on the planet.

Leading to our next story ‘Half of All US Retail and Hotel Projects to be Green buildings by 2015’. The growth of green building has been nothing short of spectacular over the past two years. The percentage of retail/restaurant owners reporting more than half their buildings as green jumped from 18% in 2011 to 38% in 2013. More sustainable buildings equal more efficient operation, happier tenants and landlords what’s not to like.

Staying with the green building theme, this type of building appear to offer a lot but still incur a premium up front cost when compared to current building stock. Companies that are not able to invest in the latest green buildings and technology can still improve their working environment by getting back to energy basics and put simple low cost measures in place as a starting point. Some ideas that can be used are focusing on the plug load by using timers or sensors to shut off equipment when not in use. Changing HVAC filters you not only make the system more efficient but also maximize the equipment lifespan. Having any energy management strategy in place is better than none at all; it helps to have the basics covered.

While some countries are trying hard to implement energy management strategies there are those who display blatant signs of problems such as the Singapore haze caused by forest fires from bordering countries. Even through the thick haze and smog Asia still wants to build 1000 coal-fired power plants despite global attempts to reduce carbon emissions. The more disturbing factor is the World Bank is the one funding these exorbitant emitters! Where does the accountability lie?

This accountability in China lies within its Government. It has been reported that in north China people live an average of 5.5 years less than those in the Southern region, the cause being from cardiorespiratory illness. The difference between the regions is the North are granted free wintertime heating from the government that is produced by coal plants, leaving the air quality diminished. China has implemented new measures to target air pollution including the death penalty for serious polluters, an extreme measure yes, but an equally extreme situation.

The rise in carbon has many other environmental affects including aiding the production of pollen. Not only is the pollen doubling in production but it also is lasting longer into autumn and starting earlier in spring causing allergens to remain in the air for longer, not good news for allergy sufferers! It is not just the allergy sufferers that are being affected; this allergy increase will escalate the use of public healthcare that is funded by your tax dollars, thank you climate change.

When buying an engagement ring or any type of ring males certainly look at the cost, for a woman it is how beautiful the setting is and whether the stones or design will suit her finger.

If they knew the natural costs of this item they may reconsider what the retail price of the ring is. If it has a gold band then the capital costs is 55 percent higher than a platinum band because of the environment impact (more earth has to be moved). Platinum production produces greenhouse gas emissions at 41%. Truscot (leaders in understanding natural capital dependency for over 12 years) analysed and calculated the natural capital costs of each impact, greenhouse gas emission, air pollutions and water use. Countries and ecosystems were selected based on locations of gold and platinum primary production.

We wrap up this issue of SnippETS by looking at the vast potential costs of Artic climate change, so far discussion assumes opening up the region for oil and gas exploration would be beneficial due to the less extreme weather. The Artic is thought to hold 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of oil. A very real downside to all this exploration is the release of methane from thawing permafrost; this comes with a global price tag of $60 trillion.

This release of methane would have a significant impact on the world as we know it. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and some serious thought will be given to protect this region from further and far reaching change.

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