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Renewable Energy and Economic Growth Go Hand in Hand for Massachusetts
As the American economy begins to recover, some might argue that renewable energy has played a role. In Massachusetts, the clean energy industry has caused significant growth. Jobs in the state's clean energy sector have increased by 24 percent since 2011, according to the latest report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
Now almost 80,000 people are employed by the state's clean energy industry with jobs focused on renewable energy, carbon management, alternative transportation and related technologies. About 30,000 of these employees work specifically with green energy according to the report.
MassCEC predicts that Massachusetts will continue to see strong growth over the next year. In fact, it estimates the renewable energy sector will see the job market grow another 11.1 percent, which would bring the clean energy workforce to a whopping 88,000 people.
Solar energy seems to be the biggest economy booster in Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, about 12,550 of all the renewable jobs in the state come from the solar market. The state has implemented incentive programs to encourage solar growth and has even set a goal to reach 1,600 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity by 2020—enough to power 400,000 homes. As of Sept. 1, Massachusetts had 311 MW of installed solar energy.
Wind power has also been the beneficiary of government incentives, but has seen slightly smaller growth, with just 100 MW of installed wind capacity by the end of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, the state has a goal to increase its capacity to 2,000 MW by 2020. The wind industry employs about 2,300 in Massachusetts.
Although not as highly thought of in the renewable energy world, hydropower plays a big role in clean energy jobs within the Bay State. It employs about 2,700 Massachusetts residents, including those involved with tidal or wave technologies. Hydropower accounts for 13.2 percent of Massachusetts' energy in the winter and 14.2 percent in the summer, according to the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Top Three Reasons for Significant Renewable Energy Growth
In the midst of worldwide hype about reducing pollution and switching to green energy, Massachusetts is leading the way toward a sustainable future. While many states may tout renewable energy expansions, not everyone can boast the clean energy job growth Massachusetts has experienced. Three things can be attributed to the significant growth seen within the state.
1. Diversified portfolio
The government hasn't focused on building up just one type of renewable energy generation. It's set concrete goals and deadlines to boost the state's capacity of both wind and solar energy separately, allowing it to have a diversified energy portfolio. This is different from many other states that lump all forms of renewable energy into one category. For example, Texas' Renewable Portfolio Standard mandated that the state generate 10,000 MW of renewable energy by 2025. However, only wind energy took off in the state. Now it has more than 12,000 MW of wind power but hasn't taken advantage of its sun-filled skies nearly as much as it could.
2. Government incentives
The state of Massachusetts offers plenty of incentives to make installing renewable energy an affordable option. It offers rebates for residential or commercial customers who install solar panels, tax deductions and exemptions for wind, hydro or solar installations as well as a number of grants and utility renewable energy rebate programs.
3. Outside investments
It's no secret that investors are looking to capitalize on the renewable energy craze. In fact, worldwide, clean energy project financing grew by 404 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to MassCEC. In 2012, the state received about $312 million from outside investors for clean energy projects. One could argue that both the diversified portfolio and government incentives were keys in attracting investors.
Paul Batistelli freelances in the energy field for the promotion of a greener society and energy means. He works to raise awareness on ecological issues, energy dependency, and reducing carbon footprints.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
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Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
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Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.