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New report celebrates 15 years of certified sustainable seafood

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The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has today released its annual report, marking 15 years since the launch of the transformational program rewarding and incentivising sustainable fishing.

The 2014-15 Annual Report, Celebrating 15 years of certified sustainable seafood, showcases industry leaders working to safeguard seafood supplies for the future. Fisheries which meet the MSC’s high standard of sustainability now catch close to nine million metric tonnes of seafood, representing almost 10% of the total global wild-caught seafood supply. This includes nearly half (45.9%) of the global whitefish catch. Seafood retailers and restaurants now sell over 17,000 products with the MSC ecolabel and more than 34,000 business locations are part of the MSC Chain of Custody, ensuring a traceable global supply chain.

“This growth and momentum, through the leadership of our partners, is driving lasting change in the way our oceans are fished, rewarding good practice and catalysing improvements where needed to meet the growing global demand for certified sustainable seafood” says MSC CEO, Rupert Howes.

This year, the MSC updated its Fisheries Standard to ensure it reflects the latest science and best management practices widely adopted by the world’s leading fisheries. A growing evidence base, captured in the MSC’s 2015 Global Impacts Report, also shows that MSC certified fisheries are maintaining healthy fish populations and effectively managing their impacts on habitats and ecosystems.

“The MSC is a learning organisation and we’ve invested heavily in strengthening the rigour of our program and building our evidence base on how our partners are delivering positive outcomes for our oceans” adds Mr Howes.

On the market side, the report acknowledges the bold global commitment by IKEA to only sell and serve certified sustainable seafood throughout its more than 370 stores, and the Iglo Group’s 100% sustainable fish commitment. This year also marked the MSC’s arrival in a new market with MSC certified products on sale in South Korea thanks to seafood processor Hansung and Lotte Mart, the country’s largest retailer.

“Market demand for sustainable seafood is helping to drive positive change in how our oceans are fished and managed. As more retailers and processors choose MSC certified seafood, other fisheries are encouraged into MSC assessment to meet the opportunities that higher demand for sustainable seafood can deliver” adds Mr Howes.

In 2014-15, 40 new fisheries achieved MSC certification and over 70 entered full assessment. These fisheries included artisanal fishing communities alongside large scale commercial fishing operations. The report highlights two pioneers, the first certified fisheries in India and China – the Ashtamudi clam and Zoneco scallop fisheries. Around 1,000 people depend on the Kerala-based clam fishery for their livelihoods, while the Chinese scallop fishery employs more than 20,000 fishers through a cooperative, and covers more than half a million hectares of the North Yellow Sea.

Two decades on from the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery in Newfoundland, the report highlights the commitments of fisheries in the Northern Hemisphere which are helping ensure the ongoing productivity of northern waters: 97% Canadian Atlantic lobster is now MSC certified; 87% of Alaska’s fisheries, by volume, are MSC certified; and the Iceland Sustainable Fisheries group is seeking MSC certification for all its commercial fisheries.

Consumers in close to 100 countries can now choose from more than 100 different certified seafood species, with an estimated US$4.5 billion spent globally by consumers on MSC labelled products in 2014-15.

Read the full annual report in PDF format online

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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