Earth Policy Institute

Plastic Bags Fact Sheet

Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile. City, state, and national governments around the world are trying to limit plastic bag litter and waste with bans and fees. The oldest existing plastic bag tax is in Denmark, passed in 1993. Danes use very few […]

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Plastic Bag Bans or Fees Cover 49 Million Americans

With the signing of a plastic bag ban in California on September 30, 2014, the number of Americans who will be affected by anti-bag legislation by 2015 climbed to 49 million. California is the first state to ban the bag. Nationwide more than 150 cities and counties are implementing bans or fees in attempts to reduce the estimated 100 billion plastic bags used in the United States each year.

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Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment

by Emily E. Adams Even master chess players can miss a great move when they have been primed to look for a different one. To explore this phenomenon, researchers tracked master chess players’ eye movements when given chessboards with different layouts. With the first board, players could reach checkmate using a familiar move. When given the second chessboard, the players’ eyes kept looking at the pieces involved in the familiar […]

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China’s Solar Panel Production to Double by 2017

by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute China installed a world record amount of solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity in 2013. While this was the first time the country was the number one installer, China has led all countries in making PV for the better part of a decade. China now accounts for 64 percent of global solar panel production — churning out 25,600 megawatts of the nearly 40,000 megawatts of […]

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Denmark, Portugal, and Spain Leading the World in Wind Power

by J. Matthew Roney Denmark produced one third of its electricity from the wind in 2013. In no other country has wind’s share of annual electricity generation yet topped 30 percent. But the Danes are not stopping there — they are eyeing a goal of 50 percent wind by 2020, with most of the needed expansion coming from offshore wind farms. Recent experience shows that Denmark’s grid can accommodate this […]

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Bicycle Share Fact Sheet

The prevalence of bicycles in a community is an indicator of our ability to provide affordable transportation, lower traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, increase mobility, and provide exercise to the world’s growing population. Bike-sharing programs are one way to get cycles to the masses. In early 2014, some 600 cities in 52 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of more than 570,000 bicycles.

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The Downfall of the Plastic Bag: A Global Picture

by Janet Larsen and Savina Venkova Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. Usage varies widely among countries, from over 400 a year for many East Europeans, to just four a year for people in Denmark and Finland. Plastic bags, made of depletable natural gas or petroleum resources, are often used only for a matter of minutes. Yet they last in the […]

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Plastic Bag Bans Spreading in the United States

by Janet Larsen and Savina Venkova, Earth Policy Institute Los Angeles rang in the 2014 New Year with a ban on the distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter of big retailers, making it the largest of the 132 cities and counties around the United States with anti-plastic bag legislation. And a movement that gained momentum in California is going national. More than 20 million Americans live in communities […]

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World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013

by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute At the end of 2013, the wind farms installed in more than 85 countries had a combined generating capacity of 318,000 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the residential electricity needs of the European Union’s 506 million people. New data from the Global Wind Energy Council show that wind developers built 35,000 megawatts of new generating capacity worldwide in 2013. This was […]

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Generation Gap: Wind Opens Big Lead over Nuclear in China

by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute In China, wind power is leaving nuclear behind. Electricity output from China’s wind farms exceeded that from its nuclear plants for the first time in 2012, by a narrow margin. Then in 2013, wind pulled away — outdoing nuclear by 22 percent. The 135 terawatt-hours of Chinese wind-generated electricity in 2013 would be nearly enough to power New York State.

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Can the World Feed China?

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute Slim, healthy, happy bovines promote a ‘hip’ new McDonald’s meat based diet to Chinese consumers from billboards across the country Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006 — just eight years ago — China had […]

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