Germany breaks renewables record with coal and nuclear power responsible for only 15% of country’s total energy


Germany has broken a new record for renewable energy, with low-carbon sources nearly obliterating coal and nuclear power last weekend. Sustainable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro power provided a record 85 per cent of the country’s total energy.

Germany has been investing heavily in renewables, as part of the government’s Energiewende initiative to transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear power to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply by 2050.

Investment in sustainable energy has been so successful that for several hours on Sunday electricity prices fell into negative figures, as renewable sources fed so much power into the grid that supply exceeded demand. Coal use fell to an all-time low, with public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reporting that on 30 April coal-fired power stations were only operational between three and four in the afternoon and  produced less than eight gigawatts of energy, well below their maximum output of about 50 gigawatts.

Germany announced in May 2011 that it plans to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022, in addition to nearly eliminating fossil fuel power..

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Ατμοσφαιρική Ρύπανση: επιπτώσεις και τρόποι αντιμετώπισης


Ένα από τα σημαντικότερα προβλήματα της δημόσιας υγείας διεθνώς, αποτελεί «η ρύπανση του αέρα», η οποία στη σύγχρονη εποχή είναι κυρίως αποτέλεσμα της ανθρώπινης δραστηριότητας. Συγκεκριμένα, κύρια πηγή της περιβαλλοντικής αέριας ρύπανσης είναι οι βιομηχανίες, οι καυστήρες θέρμανσης, τα μέσα μεταφοράς, καθώς και τα τεχνικά έργα.

Η ρύπανση της ατμόσφαιρας αποτελεί ένα σοβαρό υγειονομικό, περιβαλλοντικό, κοινωνικό και οικονομικό πρόβλημα, γιατί τα αέρια που τη ρυπαίνουν, όπως το διοξείδιο του άνθρακα, έχουν σοβαρές συνέπειες, όπως την υπερθέρμανση της γης, αναπνευστικά προβλήματα και άλλα προβλήματα υγείας.

Ειδικότερα, η ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση γίνεται κυρίως από:

  • Το διοξείδιο του θείου (SO2), το οποίο παράγεται κατά την καύση στερεών και υγρών καυσίμων, ενώ παράλληλα, μεγάλες ποσότητες διοξειδίου του θείου ελευθερώνονται στον αέρα και κατά τις εκρήξεις των ηφαιστείων.
  • Τα οξείδια του αζώτου, τα οποία παράγονται κατά τη λειτουργία των βενζινοκινητήρων. Με την επίδραση της ηλιακής ακτινοβολίας, από τα οξείδια του αζώτου παράγεται και όζον, που είναι ερεθιστικό αέριο.
  • Το μονοξείδιο του άνθρακα (CΟ), το οποίο προέρχεται κυρίως από τις καύσεις στους κινητήρες των αυτοκίνητων και είναι δηλητήριο.
  • Το διοξείδιο του άνθρακα (CO2), το οποίο παράγεται κατά την καύση στερεών και υγρών καυσίμων.
  • Διάφοροι υδρογονάνθρακες, οι οποίοι είναι συστατικά των καυσίμων που διαφεύγουν στην ατμόσφαιρα, χωρίς να καούν και είναι πολύ βλαβεροί.
  • Αιωρούμενα σωματίδια, όπως για παράδειγμα η αιθάλη (σκόνη άνθρακα, κάπνα) και η σκόνη, που προέρχονται κυρίως από τα τεχνικά έργα και τα ηφαίστεια.

Όπως είναι γνωστό, η περιβαλλοντική ρύπανση είναι άμεσα συνυφασμένη με την εξέλιξη της τεχνολογίας και της επιστήμης, η πρόοδος των οποίων εκτός από σημαντικά οφέλη που προσφέρει στην ανθρωπότητα, έχει επίσης και δυσμενείς επιπτώσεις στο περιβάλλον και κατά συνέπεια στην υγεία των ανθρώπων.

Για παράδειγμα, η ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση μπορεί να διαβρώσει τα υλικά και να καταστρέψει ιστορικά αλλά  και σύγχρονα κτίρια και μνημεία, με κύρια υπεύθυνη για αυτές τις καταστροφές την όξινη βροχή. Επίσης, μπορεί να ξεράνει τα φυτά ή  να περιορίσει την ανάπτυξή τους, όπου πάλι, ο μεγαλύτερος κίνδυνος προέρχεται από την όξινη βροχή, αλλά σε αυτή την περίπτωση σημαντική  είναι και η συνεισφορά  από τους ρύπους  που υπάρχουν στον αέρα. Παράλληλα, άλλη μία συνέπεια της ατμοσφαιρικής ρύπανσης είναι η αιθαλομίχλη, η οποία μειώνει την ορατότητα, ενώ όσον αφορά την ανθρώπινη υγεία, το κυριότερο σύστημα που προσβάλλεται στον ανθρώπινο οργανισμό είναι το αναπνευστικό και το καρδιαγγειακό.

Λαμβανομένων υπόψη όλων των παραπάνω, κρίνεται αναγκαία η λήψη μέτρων για την αντιμετώπιση αυτού του φαινομένου, όπως είναι: η βελτίωση της ποιότητας των καυσίμων, η χρήση εναλλακτικών  καυσίμων όπως το υδρογόνο και η αιθανόλη, ο έλεγχος των καυσαερίων και ειδικά των εκπομπών τους στα αυτοκίνητα και στις βιομηχανίες, η αξιοποίηση της τεχνολογίας αντιρύπανσης, όπως είναι τα φίλτρα καυσαερίων, η βελτίωση των μέσων μαζικής μεταφοράς ώστε να περιοριστεί η κυκλοφορία των ΙΧ  αυτοκινήτων, η σωστή συντήρηση των κινητήρων των αυτοκινήτων και των καυστήρων των καλοριφέρ, η δημιουργία περισσότερων πάρκων και χώρων πρασίνου με δεντροφύτευση όλων των ελεύθερων χώρων στις πόλεις και αναδάσωση στα βουνά για την παραγωγή οξυγόνου και τη μείωση του διοξειδίου του άνθρακα.

Εν τέλει, γίνεται κατανοητό ότι για την αντιμετώπιση του συγκεκριμένου προβλήματος, δεν απαιτείται μόνο η λήψη σημαντικών μέτρων, αλλά κυρίως η σωστή εφαρμογή τους, και κατ’ επέκταση η ευαισθητοποίηση των ανθρώπων, οι οποίοι αποτελούν και  τη βασική πηγή πρόκληση της ατμοσφαιρικής ρύπανσης.

Αρθρογράφος: Δίπλα Αικατερίνη (Arid Zone Afforestation)



Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years


A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.

The study relates to a scientific conundrum known as the faint young sun paradox – that early in Earth’s history, solar output was 30% less intense than it is today, and yet the planet was warm enough to have a liquid ocean. A stronger greenhouse effect due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be one explanation.

Over time, solar output has grown stronger, and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have fallen due to an effect known as “weathering” of rocks and an increase in plant life. The authors of this study found that over the past 420 million years, the slow heating of the sun and slow decline of the greenhouse effect have roughly offset each other, leading to a fairly stable long-term global climate.

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Forest Does Not Only Absorb CO2 But Affects Cooling Of Earth Too


Researchers have found out that forest and trees do not only absorb the carbon dioxide emissions of the world, but they cool the Earth in other ways too. The study, which was published in the journal “Nature Climate Change”, has stated that lawmakers and legislators should really think about the forest and what they are doing to them. Trees and the forest affect the climate change big time as they affect not only the atmosphere but other parts of the world too, said the authors of an international study.

After collecting the meteorological data and the data satellites the scientists found out that there is a big difference between the farming areas and the forested areas. The cooling effects in plain fields are lower than in the areas with trees and in the forest. That was not a surprise for the researchers at all. “Forests play a more important role in cooling the surface in almost all regions of the Earth than was previously thought,” said study co-author Kaiguang Zhao, assistant professor of environment modeling and spatial analysis at The Ohio State University. “This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change,” Zhao added.

What was shocking was the forest and the trees also cool down the mid and lower altitude levels of the Earth as much as how they cool the higher areas.

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Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’


The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.

Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows.

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research programme.

“Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” said Jeffrey Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona in the US. “In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilisation, which thrives on stability.”

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1.7 million Children Die Every Year Due to Environmental Pollution – Says a WHO Report


For every country, the economic development comes with a cost, and most of the time it’s the environment that is affected directly by the activities related to development. A recent report by World Health Organization says  more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

The first report, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment” reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Harmful exposures can start in the mother’s womb and increase the risk of premature birth. Additionally, when infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke they have an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Exposure to air pollution may also increase their lifelong risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

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Arid Zone Afforestation – Safe Tree


Safe Tree is an innovate, environmentally friendly, tree planting system. It is the result of long research and experiments on plants behaviour, under the conditions we created, and with the materials we selected and processed for this purpose.

Safe Tree is applied via different methods in the following two areas:

  • Areas where periods of rainfall are interchanged by long-drought periods, which are under the threat of desertification.
  • Areas where it rains either very little or not at all, like deserts.

In both cases the system creates favourable conditions at the newly planted plant’s root system, by securing constant moisture, stable temperature, dynamic ventilation and strong fertilization, thus assisting the plant to survive itself and grow very fast indeed.

Safe Tree can only be applied by specialized crews, who have completed the relevant scientific training, to guarantee the effective implementation of the system in every environment. The materials used have been specially processed to obtain the specifications required for the system to adapt and work perfectly under any given weather conditions.

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Cameroon to restore 12 million hectares of forest in species-rich Congo Basin


Cameroon has committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030 as part of the Bonn Challenge initiative. The pledge is the biggest made so far in the species-rich Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest.

The Bonn Challenge, launched in 2011 at an event hosted by Germany and IUCN, is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. With Cameroon’s commitment, the Challenge has reached over 148 million hectares pledged in total.

Cameroon is delighted to join this ambitious movement,” says Cameroon’s Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, Pierre Hele. “By restoring our unproductive landscapes, we will help local communities develop sustainably, increase their resilience to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation.”

Deforestation and land degradation are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions globally, and the Bonn Challenge pledge brings Cameroon closer to its national goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32% by 2035 – part of the country’s Paris Agreement commitment as announced by President Paul Biya at the COP21 in Paris.

Forty-six per cent of Cameroon is covered in forests that are highly regarded for their biodiversity,” says Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Philip Ngole Ngwese. “In recent years, we have seen an upward trend in deforestation and degradation. Restoring these valuable ecosystems will help us protect our natural heritage and contribute to our carbon reduction targets.

Follow the link to learn more about that serious issue, and probably do the same effort,by helping the environment: Article from: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits


Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The submerged islands were part of the Solomon Islands, an archipelago that over the last two decades has seen annual sea levels rise as much as 10mm (0.4in), according to research published in the May issue of the online journal Environmental Research Letters.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans. But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

The Solomon Islands, a nation made up of hundreds of islands and with a population of about 640,000, lies about 1,000 miles north-east of Australia. However, the study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

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The Role of Food and Beverage Packaging in Limiting Climate Change


The Paris Climate Change Agreement one year later

It has been almost a year since the Paris Climate Change Agreement was adopted in December of 2015.  The agreement set out a goal and initiated a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. 

It took most of 2016 for the Agreement to be signed and ratified and the Agreement did not enter into force until November 4, 2016.  Key to this process was a joint ceremony on April 22, 2016 in which President Obama of the United States, and President Xi Jinping of China signed and ratified the Agreement on behalf of their respective countries.  The US and China are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet.

So now the hard work begins – turning aspirations of the Paris Climate Change Agreement into action.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is in the process of investigating the environmental footprint of a variety of foods, understanding that food production, processing, distribution, and wastage are responsible for significant impacts.  The foods to be considered in these reviews include tomatoes, wine, pork, beer, coffee, citrus fruit and juices, and fish from freshwater aquaculture.  So far the DEQ’s contractor, the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, has conducted literature reviews and produced draft summaries for two foods, tomatoes and wine, and the results show that:

1. Packaging contributes to the overall environmental impacts of the food and beverage industry; and

2. Packaging choices can make a significant difference in greenhouse gas impacts of the food and beverage industry.

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