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The Week in Review: LEDs Power Up; Ethanol Love Fades

Battle of the Bulbs: LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have been the Next Big Thing in lighting for nearly a decade, but have never been made bright enough to illuminate the pages of Malcolm Gladwell while we read in bed. Until now.
This week, GE unveiled an eco-equivalent to the 40-watt incandescent bulb — a 9-watt LED that will go on sale late this year or early next. Days later, Philips announced its own entry, a 12-watt LED meant to replace the plain ol’ 60-watt bulb. Both will sell for $40 or $50 and could last up to 17 years — long enough that your mattress will give out before your bedroom bulbs do.
Not Exactly Glacial: Usually global warming occurs at pace that’s hard to detect, but that changed on Sunday for the people of Carhuaz, Peru. A massive block of the Hualcan glacier broke off and tumbled into a lake, creating a 75-foot-tall tsunami that killed three.Other Signs of a Hurting Planet: In Canada, the 895-square-mile ice cap on Devon Island in Baffin Bay is shrinking and calving glaciers. One in six species of mangrove faces the threat of extinction as shorelines are developed and fished, especially in Central America. And NASA released satellite photos of that show how Semiara Island in the Philippines is being steadily destroyed by a coal-mining operation.
Pinch Us, We Must Be Dreaming: A few years ago, could you imagine reading any of the following news items, much less in the space of one week? Sony commits to zero carbon and zero waste by 2050; Verizon adds 1,600 alternative-fuel cars to its fleet and plans a generation of eco-friendly set-top boxes; Korean conglomerate LG invests $18 billion to cut its emissions by 40 percent and develop earth-friendly businesses; PepsiCo devotes $18 million to buy biomass boilers and solar panels to make Tostitos and Dr. Pepper.
Cleantech Biz Update: Strong performance by solar and energy-efficiency companies likely helped push the Dow up over 11,000 for the first time since the economic collapse of 2008, the New York Times reported. But with many public subsidies ending, the cleantech rally might wane soon. In other news, Cereplast, the creator of bio-based plastics, got listed on the NASDAQ.
Critical Mass-achusetts: The state of Massachusetts tapped smart-grid company EnerNOC to bring sophisticated energy tools to 17 million square feet of government real estate, including offices, hospitals, colleges and prisons. Savings might amount to $10 million a year. Meanwhile, the state’s own FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp. won a series of state loans and investments and will set up a new R&D facility.
Not your Grandfather’s Hindenburg: Why not ship our goods with giant solar blimps?
Corn-as-Fuel Loses Its Luster: America’s love affair with ethanol from Midwestern corn took another blow this week with a report warning that dedicating much of America’s breadbasket toward fuel might be disastrous in the event of a food shortage. That, and alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol and algae are gaining traction.
Brazil Woos Your Gas Tank: Brazil waged a U.S. public-relations blitz to persuade the United States to lower tariffs that lock out ethanol made from Brazilian sugarcane. Sugarcane ethanol is widespread in Brazil, with a lower carbon footprint than our own corn ethanol and achieving affordable prices without much government support.
Gadget Watch: Researchers at Stanford figure out how to draw electrical current from a single cell of algae; marine scientists create a perpetual-motion robot powered by changes in the ocean’s temperature; and the round-the-world solar plane clocked its llongest flight ever at 87 minutes. Next up: a night flight.
Article by David Ferris appearing courtesy Matter Network.
photo: NHuisman

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Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!


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