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.

Our first two articles discuss problems with feeding the world, with the population booming.Research has revealed that if there was not as much waste of the food we currently have, (either through lack of refrigeration, or wasteful habits), and of fertilisers and water, we could currently feed another 3 billion people. And if we ate less meat, the crops used to farm animals could provide food for another 4 billion people. A new focus is needed in areas with the most to gain, and take advantage of possible production efficiencies.

Seafood is a staple of many people’s diet, but if not sustainably managed, the next generation will not be so lucky. Fish farming is becoming more common, but unless the supply of feed to these farms is managed well, there could be a long term effect on the marine environment. The weekly ‘fish’n’chips’ may become a thing of the past, unless the public make it known they are opposed to the unsustainable fishing of many species we enjoy. Food for thought!

In our last snippETS (17 July 2014), we identified that private companies can be the vehicles of change needed to address the world’s challenges. However, given their current structure, there needs to be a strong policy framework to benefit from their strengths. Our next article notes Nestlé is strong in water extraction, treatment and distribution. Unfortunately they are not considering their local environment when locating their businesses. Given a solid policy guidance, Nestlé could help address the drought problems in California, rather than worsen them by shipping bottled water out.

According to Jake Richardson in our next article, mainstream corporate America wants more renewable energy. This may be true, but energy companies and investors with a historical fossil fuel focus should be on this list (and are notable in their absence)! Tom Steyer writes that he left his job when he realised the company’s priorities were not matching his growing sensitivity to climate change. It may be a better result would have eventuated if Tom had influenced the company’s focus to include green investments, and divest from fossil fuel investments.

Business Wire reports that Bidgely, a business intelligence platform, is helping power utilities handle solar disaggregation (where individuals can see how much solar power and grid power they are using). This tool would also allow utilities to have a better view of the solar energy market. The question remains whether this would bring more benefits to the residential customer who otherwise would have a stick to wield as counter to utility retailers.

Nonetheless technology solutions are essential for energy sector optimisation. Karen Henry writes about IBM helping China with a system to manage energy. The main objective being to increase utilisation of renewable energy. This is somewhat similar to what Elaine Hsieh and Joel Makower report on the system by Apparent, to enable renewable energy to be fed into the grid with more stability. Private companies can help find solutions but a smart policy framework is needed.

Smart policies should also lead to SMART solutions. Stanford University recommends net energy analysis as criteria for renewable energy. The reason being that viable projects should produce more energy than they consume over their lifecycle.

We next take a look at John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama. Christy is a climate change skeptic with a strong scientific background. There are always two sides to a story and robust debate is and should be required at all times, especially over such an important issue as climate change. It’s important to have an open mind, and if evidence is produced after much research to counter an argument or belief, it’s important to take a step back and think “well maybe I was wrong”, (skeptics can be a tough nut to crack).

Is it dangerous to silence skeptics? We next look at an opinion piece covering this topic. Do we agree with what he is saying? Yes & no, but that is the beauty of being open to new ideas and information.

We next look at global warming ‘denial’, and see that the media can hugely influence how we think about things. If one person/organisation (in this case Rupert Murdoch, an apparent climate change skeptic) controls a large portion of the media in a country, they can have a significant influence on readers or viewers. Unsurprisingly the US, UK and Australia feature high on the “climate change is not a problem” list!

We wrap up this week with a look at kids (our future). It’s safe to say wrapping them up in cotton wool and keeping them inside all day, they will have very little appreciation of our planet. It’s also safe to say that getting them outside from a young age to experience trees, mud and dirt is hugely beneficial. You will find they love their world and will ensure it stays in good shape long after they grow up.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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