Cheryl Katz

On Thin Ice: Big Northern Lakes Are Being Rapidly Transformed

For more than 25 million years, Lake Baikal has cut an immense arc from southern Siberia to the Mongolian border. The length of Florida and nearly the depth of the Grand Canyon, Baikal is the deepest, largest in volume, and most ancient freshwater lake in the world, holding one-fifth of the planet’s above-ground drinking supply. It’s a Noah’s Ark of biodiversity, home to myriad species found nowhere else on earth. It’s also changing

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New Desalination Technologies Spur Growth in Recyling Water

A ferry plows along San Francisco Bay, trailing a tail of churned up salt, sand, and sludge and further fouling the already murky liquid that John Webley intends to turn into drinking water. But Webley, CEO of a Bay Area start-up working on a new, energy-skimping desalination system, isn’t perturbed.

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Interview: San Francisco's Quest To Recycle All Trash by 2020

San Francisco, the first urban area in the nation to mandate recycling and composting and begin outlawing items like Styrofoam food containers, aims to completely eliminate the trash it sends to landfills by 2020. For the past two decades, Jack Macy has helped steer the city toward that goal. 

Macy, the senior Commercial Zero Waste coordinator for the city and county Department of the Environment, spearheaded most of San Francisco’s groundbreaking waste-reduction legislation, including requiring construction debris recycling (2006), banning plastic checkout bags in retail and grocery stores (2007, expanded in 2012), and making businesses and residents separate recyclables and food waste from their trash (2009). The city now recycles or composts 80 percent of its garbage, more than double the national average. And the firsts continue — in March, San Francisco passed a new law phasing out sales of disposable water bottles on city property. 

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A Surprising Country Is Hoping Renewable Energy Can Revive its Struggling Economy

Amid clouds of steam spewing from magma-heated pockets beneath Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, a start-up company is tapping volcanic forces to transform the climate change agent carbon dioxide from a problem into a solution. 

Using geothermal electricity and flue gas from the Svartsengi power plant nearby, Carbon Recycling International (CRI) fuses waste CO2, with hydrogen split from water to create "renewable methanol." The Reykjavik-based clean-tech venture recently began exporting the product to the Netherlands, where it is blended into gasoline. Its name, conjuring images of a comic book superhero, is Vulcanol. While others elsewhere are working on similar efforts to make green fuel from repurposed CO2, only CRI has been able to do it commercially, thanks to Iceland’s abundant supply of low-cost, earth-generated power. 

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