Information of Interest, Dec 2011
1. UN Development Programme’s 2011 Human Development Index
(http://hdr.undp.org) – Norway, Australia and the Netherlands lead the world in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Burundi are at the bottom of the annual rankings of national achievement in health, education and income, released November by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden round out the top 10 countries in the 2011 HDI, but when the Index is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, some of the wealthiest nations drop out of the HDI’s top 20: The United States falls from No. 4 to No. 23, the Republic of Korea from No. 15 to No. 32 and Israel from No. 17 to No. 25.
The Report’s Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) and two other composite indices – the Multidimensional Poverty Index and the Gender Inequality Index – were designed to complement the Human Development Report’s HDI, which is based on national averages in schooling, life expectancy and per capita income.
The 2011 Report – Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All – notes that income distribution has worsened in most of the world with Latin America remaining the most unequal region in income terms, even though several countries including Brazil and Chile are narrowing internal income gaps. Yet in overall IHDI terms, including life expectancy and schooling, Latin America is more equitable than sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, the Report shows.
Gender Inequality Index
The Gender Inequality Index (GII) shows that Sweden leads the world in gender equality, as measured by this composite index of reproductive health, years of schooling, parliamentary representation and participation in the labour market. Sweden is followed in the gender inequality rankings by the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Germany, Singapore, Iceland and France. Yemen ranks as the least equitable of the 146 countries in the GII, followed by Chad, Niger, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Liberia, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
Multidimensional Poverty Index
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) examines factors at the family level – such as access to clean water and cooking fuel and health services, as well as basic household goods and home construction standards – that together provide a fuller portrait of poverty than income measurements alone.
Some 1.7 billion people in 109 countries lived in “multidimensional” poverty in the decade ending in 2010 by the MPI calculus, or almost one-third of the countries’ entire combined population of 5.5 billion. That compares to the 1.3 billion people estimated to live on US$1.25 per day or less, the measure used in the UN Millennium Development Goals, which seeks to eradicate “extreme” poverty by 2015.
Niger has the highest share of multidimensionally poor at 92 percent of the population, the Report says, followed by Ethiopia and Mali with 89 percent and 87 percent, respectively. The 10 poorest nations as measured by the MPI are all in sub-Saharan Africa. But the largest group of multidimensionally poor is South Asian: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have some of the highest absolute numbers of MPI poor.
HDI has been published annually since 1990 as an alternative measurement of national development, challenging purely economic assessments of progress, such as Gross Domestic Product. HDI rankings are recalculated annually using the latest internationally comparable data for health, education and income. For free downloads of the 2011 Human Development Report in 10 languages, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org.
2. Thule Air Base in Greenland Saves Money and Energy
(www.thule.af.mil) – Located 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Thule Air Base needs to generate heat year-round, which adds up to one big heating bill. Thule currently uses more than 10 million gallons of jet propellant 8 fuel for electricity and steam heat annually.
Constructed during the Cold War, Thule once housed 10,000 personnel. Today, that number stays between 750 and 1,000. “There are a lot of steam boilers because it’s sized for a larger base,” says Randy Pieper, 21st Space Wing resource efficiency manager. In addition, the electrical generators are only 35 or 40 percent effective, which means most of the energy produced is waste.
In an effort to improve efficiency and save money on fuel, new exhaust boilers have been installed to each of the power plant’s five engines to generate heat. Pieper compares the electrical generators to a car engine: “All of that (energy) is going out in exhaust. We’re going to capture that, and it’ll be used for heat.”
The $8.3 million project is being done in two phases. Two exhaust boilers went online in June; the other three are expected to be functional by late spring. Once they are all fully functional, the current steam boilers will become back up. “During the summer, those boilers will be turned off all together,” Pieper said.
Using the exhaust from the electrical generators to produce heat for the base will save 1.5 million gallons of fuel a year, which is nearly $3 million based on today’s fuel cost. In addition, the base is currently in the process of decreasing its size and its footprint. According to Pieper, “We’re going to reduce the base 38 percent.” Having more than 744,000 square feet less to heat and maintain will significantly increase Thule’s annual savings.
“Not only are there energy savings but there’s (operation and maintenance) savings; there’s logistical savings because you’re not supporting such a large base. Those are third and fourth effect savings that don’t necessarily get discussed,” Pieper says.
3. Massive Bird Kill at W. Va. Wind Farm Highlights National Issue
(www.abcbirds.org) – With the deaths of nearly 500 birds at the Laurel Mountain wind facility in October 2011, three of the four wind farms operating in W. Va. have now experienced large bird fatality events, according to American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.
Three critical circumstances tragically aligned to kill these birds. Each occurred during bird migration season, during low visibility weather conditions and with the addition of a deadly triggering element – an artificial light source. Steady-burning lights have been shown to attract and disorient birds, particularly night-migrating songbirds that navigate by starlight and especially during nights where visibility is low, such as in fog or inclement weather. Circling birds collide with structures or each other, or drop to the ground from exhaustion.
At the Laurel Mountain facility, almost 500 birds were reportedly killed after lights were left on at an electrical substation associated with the wind project. The deaths are said to have occurred not from collisions with the wind turbines themselves but from a combination of collisions with the substation and apparent exhaustion as birds caught in the light’s glare circled in mass confusion.
On the evening of September 24, 2011, at the Mount Storm facility, 59 birds and two bats were killed. Thirty of the dead birds were found near a single wind turbine that was reported to have had internal lighting left on overnight. And, on May 23, 2003, at W.Va.’s Mountaineer wind farm, at least 33 birds were killed. Some of the deaths were attributed to collisions with wind turbines and some to collisions with a substation.
These incidents stand in stark contrast to industry assertions that just two birds per year are killed on average by each turbine. Data from Altamont Pass, California, wind farms – the most studied in the nation – suggest that more than 2,000 Golden Eagles alone have been killed there.
“The good news is that it shouldn’t be hard to make changes that will keep these sorts of unnecessary deaths from happening again, but it’s disturbing that they happened at all. It has long been known that many birds navigate by the stars at night, that they normally fly lower during bad weather conditions and that artificial light can draw them off course and lead to fatal collision events. That’s why minimizing outdoor lighting at wind facilities is a well-known operating standard. And yet lights were left on at these sites resulting in these unfortunate deaths. This reinforces the need to have mandatory federal operational standards as opposed to the optional, voluntary guidelines currently under discussion,” says Kelly Fuller, ABC’s Wind Campaign Coordinator.
A fourth wind farm in West Virginia, the Beech Ridge Wind Energy Project in Greenbrier County, has not experienced large mortality events likely because it is currently prohibited by a court order from operating during nighttime between April 1 and November 15.
American Bird Conservancy supports Bird-Smart Wind Power. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization, its mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats and reducing threats while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. For more information, visit www.abcbirds.org.
4. Carbonostics Delivers Practical Approach to Product-Level LCA
(www.bluehorseassociates.com) – Bluehorse Associates has developed Carbonostics, an innovative product-level lifecycle assessment (LCA) and screening tool that measures the impacts of any food product or menu along three key criteria: cost + carbon + nutrition. The tool delivers a practical approach, allowing users to screen products for hotspots, model product development with scenarios or process a full lifecycle analysis.
Bluehorse Associates, a leader in sustainability metrics and lifecycle analysis, has received accreditation from the Supply Chain Carbon Council for Carbonostics. Established in 2007, the Supply Chain Carbon Council works in partnership with global innovators from the technology and strategic advice sectors to tackle issues surrounding carbon emissions management and reduction. Bluehorse joins the Council as a Preferred Supplier within the program promoting the application of LCA software and methodologies to Product Level Carbon Footprinting.
The ability of lifecycle analysis to bring a high level of visibility to a product’s emissions output at all stages in its design and manufacture is unrivalled and should be harnessed on a global scale. “To have a clear picture of a product’s carbon emissions output at all stages in its design and manufacture is invaluable and will allow organisations to identify where reductions can be achieved and ultimately provide this information to the end user,” comments John Connors, CEO of the Supply Chain Carbon Council.
The European Supply Chain Institute, ESCI, is a member body that researches areas that have a direct and positive impact on supply chain operations. The Supply Chain Carbon Council is administered by the Institute. The membership of the Institute is predominantly at senior management level and represents cross-industry disciplines. All parties interested in the activities of the Carbon Council or who wish to be considered for participation should email John.Connors@Escinst.org or call +353 646685831.