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All About: Waste heat

Rachel Oliver, CNN
There’s no place like home — especially when it comes to affecting the environment, it seems.

For all the bad mouthing we dish out to the auto and manufacturing industries for the foul pollutants they force us to breathe, a wealth of evidence is suggesting that we should be looking a little closer to home for the other villains of global warming.

It turns out that our homes gobble up 25 percent of the world’s energy and are to thank for 19 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (that’s 4,400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2), according to a recent McKinsey report, “Curbing Global Energy Demand: The Energy Productivity Opportunity.”

That figure is expected to reach 21 percent by 2020 if we carry on the way we are going. It could, of course get much higher, depending on how quickly the developing world adopts the same consumer-led lifestyle as the West. (India and China’s emissions per capita, for example, are expected to double by 2020).

As it stands now, the U.S. residential sector is the largest single consumer of energy on Earth, with American homes spewing out 25 percent of global home-related greenhouse gas emissions. But by 2020, developing China — which is currently emitting 18 percent — will have surpassed the United States, says McKinsey, taking 26 percent of the world’s share.

So where is this need for energy coming from?
(29 October 2007)

Some ‘Vampires’ Prefer Energy Over Blood

Julie Carr Smith, Associated Press
A force as insidious as Dracula is quietly sucking a nickel of every dollar’s worth of the electricity that seeps from your home’s outlets.

Insert the little fangs of your cell phone charger in the outlet and leave it there, phone attached: That’s vampire electronics.

Allow your computer to hide in the cloak of darkness known as “standby mode” rather than shutting it off: That’s vampire electronics.

The latest estimates show 5 percent of electricity used in the United States goes to standby power, a phenomenon energy efficiency experts find all the more terrifying as energy prices rise and the planet warms. That amounts to about $4 billion a year.

The percentage could rise to 20 percent by 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
(30 October 2007)

Government clears up rubbish tax confusion

Rosalind Ryan and agencies, Guardian
Householders could be charged for the amount of rubbish they throw away under new plans designed to encourage people to recycle more waste, the government confirmed today.

In an apparent U-turn by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, local councils may now be given the powers to fine households under the revised climate change bill when it is passed by parliament.

The announcement comes as MPs warned that Britain was set to miss targets for cutting the amount of rubbish dumped in landfill sites, leaving the UK facing EU fines of up to £180m a year.
(30 October 2007)
Related from the Guardian:
Q&A: ‘Pay as you throw’ rubbish tax
Government fails to gain support for waste tax plans

New York May Join Crackdown On Plastic Bags

Edith Honan, Reuters via Common Dreams
NEW YORK – New York City may follow an international trend and crack down on plastic shopping bags, seeking to cut their use with a plan officials hope will be a model for other cities.1030 07

A proposal introduced on Monday requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to set up an in-store recycling program and sell reusable bags.

Some 700 food stores plus large retailers such as Target and Home Depot would have to collect used bags and provide a system for turning them over to a manufacturer or to third-party recycling firms.

Stores would be required to use bags printed with a reminder to consumers: “Please return this bag to a participating store for recycling.”

Environmentalists have targeted plastic bags as a scourge that take years to biodegrade and contaminate soil and water.
(30 October 2007)