Dentists worldwide are trying to make oral hygiene greener

You might raise an eyebrow if someone told you that your dentist’s practice was going green, but that’s what’s happening in practices worldwide.

You might raise an eyebrow if someone told you that your dentist's practice was going green. But, what if it meant that you could get a crown while helping the environment? Since the Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) was founded in 2008, dental offices in 45 states and 14 countries have come together with the common goal of making dentistry a green career by cutting back on waste and energy consumption, according to the organization's website.

The EDA estimates 100 million liters of clean drinking water are flushed down the drain daily in U.S. dental offices. Add in roughly 10,000 kilos of mercury-laden amalgam waste particles and all of those disposable plastics, and a dental practice can be more wasteful than you'd think. Some waste is unavoidable, but there are a lot of ways that dentists can make up for it by lessening their impact in other places.

And that's exactly what Dr. Nathan Swanson had in mind when he opened his own practice five years ago. Swanson told James West of nonprofit social justice news website Mother Jones that he wants to be New Hampshire's greenest dentist, and that he has practical, cost-effective and efficient ways to achieve his goal. From simple changes like offering patients biodegradable toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups to making his office completely paperless by digitalizing all patient records, he's garnered national attention for his efforts to use green energy-efficient products.

As the EDA's movement is spider-webbing through the industry, schools like Massachusetts' Tufts University School of Dental Medicine have been trying to make their learning environments eco-friendly as well. In the last four years, Tufts has added five floors to its dental school that qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification for their sustainable design, efficient water usage, reduction of energy consumption, use of recycled building materials and improved indoor environment control. Tufts is continuing its efforts and aims to achieve LEED Gold Certification in the near future, according to the school's website.

To find a dentist that is a member of the EDA, visit: http://www.ecodentistry.org/Search/

What the government can do to help the economy and the environment

Last Friday, two experts suggested that just preparing for climate change may actually create economic growth.

A hot debate topic among the prospective nominees for president has been climate change solutions, though some deny it exists altogether. Last Friday, interim president at the World Resources Institute, Manish Bapna, and director general for independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, Vinod Thomas, suggested that just preparing for climate change may actually create economic growth. 

The first idea they proposed suggests that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies could lead to a worldwide initiative to develop more clean energy. According to the Institute for Energy Research, energy expenditure in the United States was slightly more than 9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008. At nearly 16 percent, only healthcare expenses constituted for a larger piece of the U.S. GDP than energy at that time. But, by reducing spending on fossil fuels domestically, Bapna and Thomas say that the government can spark economic growth in other areas or invest in low-carbon energy resources.

Bapna and Thomas' second proposal was to take advantage of the wooded lands that are still lush, and to restore degraded land that used to be forests. According to the World Resources Institute, up to 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from land use change and deforestation. In some places, land is worth more with trees than it is without. By preventing these areas from being uprooted, the two experts suggest that more money can be generated while reducing greenhouse gases. Bapna and Thomas recommended restoring baron areas that were formerly forests, which would increase food production and income for farmers by creating new markets.

Their final suggestion was that the U.S. government invest in cleaner public transportation. According to Bapna and Thomas, transportation is responsible for about 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the U.S. created more initiatives to increase public transportation, not only would the amount of greenhouse gases lesson, it would also create jobs. According to a report by Smart Growth America, U.S. stimulus money spent on public transportation led to 70 percent more job hours than that spent on highways.

Smart transportation systems could help create new green careers

Americans looking for work in the automotive sector may soon be able to rely on new openings fueled by the creation of smart transportation systems in cities around the United States.

Americans looking for work in the automotive sector may soon be able to rely on new openings fueled by the creation of smart transportation systems in cities around the United States. A newly published report suggests an influx of capital in certain sectors of this industry could soon create a number of sustainable green careers.

According to the market forecasting firm Pike Research, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) will see increased investment over the next five years. The report, which was released by the organization on December 7, indicates that ITS will see investments totaling upwards of $13 billion between 2011 and 2017.

The keys to this growth, according to the report, will be embedded intelligence that allows the vehicles of everyday Americans to communicate with transportation management systems via vehicle-to-vehicle safety technology. Overall, these advances are expected to provide a number of benefits for the environment, including reduced emissions and decreased fuel consumption.

"Most of this investment will be in intelligent traffic management systems, as this is the sector with the broadest range of potential applications," Lisa Jerram, a senior analyst, said in the press release. "It is also the sector that is applicable for all cities, and cities in the developed world are starting to deploy technology for traffic management, monitoring and demand management."

New jobs are expected to be created as the high-tech system requires professionals to ensure the maintenance and management of its basic operation systems. As such, individuals who are looking for an exciting new career may benefit by conducting research into the kinds of certifications that will be required of professionals in these positions.

In another recent report, Pike Research predicted that green career growth will also be seen in the electric vehicle sector, as more infrastructure upgrades are expected to take place in this area of the automotive industry.

Electric vehicle sales may soon spur job creation

In recent years, more Americans have been looking to enter educational programs that can give them the tools to pursue new green-collar jobs.

In recent years, more Americans have been looking to enter educational programs that can give them the tools to pursue new green-collar jobs. However, while some industries are booming, others have seen a slow start after initially high expectations. While trumpeted as the vehicles of the future and widely considered better for the environment than gas-powered cars, electric vehicles (EV) have seen slow sales in the United States.

But, according to a December 13 report by Pike Research, a market research and consulting firm, the environment for electric cars is expected to change over the next five years. Charging equipment sales are expected to reach $4.3 billion worldwide by 2017 as more consumers make the switch to electric, the company's report indicated. By comparison, the sales of these environmentally friendly products only amounted to around $400 million in 2011.

In addition, the Pike report found that the price of this equipment is also expected to drop, which in turn could help contribute to accelerated consumer demand. As of 2017, the price of EV charging accessories are expected to be nearly 40 percent lower than they are today, according to the report.

"With each new electric vehicle model that gets launched, makers of charging equipment, city planners and retailers gain an increased sense that EVs are here to stay," research director of Pike Research John Gartner said in a press release. "This will encourage both the production and purchase of charging systems."

This added revenue will likely go to private companies in this energy sector that can then create more green careers, as qualified individuals will be need to be hired to design new EV charging accessories, create the green buildings to house manufacturing plants and even work at charging stations around the country.

Renewable energy investments top $1 trillion dollars

While the fight against Big Oil rages on in the halls of Congress, consumers and the private sector as a whole continue to make investments in renewable energy, following the demands of eco-conscious Americans.

While the fight against Big Oil rages on in the halls of Congress, consumers and the private sector as a whole continue to make investments in renewable energy, following the demands of eco-conscious Americans. Due in part to the effort of many Americans to commission new businesses and green buildings, renewable energy is passing more and more milestones every day.

On December 6, Bloomberg New Energy Finance released news worth celebrating about. For the first time since 2004 – when the organization's recordkeeping began – the total investment in renewable energy, smart technologies and energy efficiency topped $1 trillion.

Those who want to know which business spent the dollar that helped put the movement over the mark – and send them some thorough congratulations – may not have an easy answer. According to the report, this dollar could have come from spending on a Brazilian biomass plan, a Chinese wind farm or investments in a U.S. electric vehicle company.

In total, the report found that clean energy investment has increased by nearly $200 billion a year since the time when the data began to be collected. However, by doing their part, individuals aren't just helping the economy. By investing in green businesses and buying eco-friendly products, individuals can feel empowered by their consumer actions, knowing that this spending is going to a good cause.

Recent economic reports have linked this kind of consumer spending to green jobs. For example, individuals who choose to invest in American green businesses create the need for more jobs and help draw attention to the movement as a whole. By sounding their voice loud and clear, Americans can continue to fight for green investments at the federal level as well.

Obama unveils plan to increase green jobs with federal and private funding

Despite the fact that economic experts have long suggested that an increase in green jobs could help retool the economy, the political climate has made it difficult for the current administration to push the policies that its leader touted on the campaign trail.

Despite the fact that economic experts have long suggested that an increase in green jobs could help retool the economy, the political climate has made it difficult for the current administration to push the policies that its leader touted on the campaign trail.

However, in a press conference on December 2, President Barack Obama indicated that creating green jobs may soon become one of his top priorities in time for the 2012 campaign. There in Washington, D.C., Obama announced the Better Building Imitative, a federal program which relied on consultancy from former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative America.

In total, the project will help provide $4 billion for eco-friendly upgrades to commercial and federal buildings through 2014. Only about half of these funds will come from federal funding and be used on government-owned properties. The remaining portion will be supplied by private companies looking to take advantage of the savings offered by eco-friendly products and services.

According to the president, this will help employ more than 100,000 individuals currently looking for or working green jobs in and around the construction industry. One example cited by Obama was a success story involving the Transwestern building from which he made the announcement. With the help of green upgrades, Obama said that Transwestern's CEO Larry Heard was able to save roughly $200,000 and create 250 jobs.

Speaking about the progress, Obama said, "It is a win for the business owners; it is a win for the tenants of this building; it is a win for the construction workers who are participating and for the property manager that's doing such a great job. So this is a great example of what's possible."

The commitment builds on a previous announcement made by Clinton's foundation in June, where the organization pledged to invest half a billion dollars into energy-efficient building projects. 

National Clean Energy Standard could be passed as soon as next year

According to a number of news outlets, Jeff Bingaman, a Democratic Senator from New Mexico, plans to introduce legislation next year that if passed could lead to an overhaul of the American economy.

According to a number of news outlets, Jeff Bingaman, a Democratic Senator from New Mexico, plans to introduce legislation next year that if passed could lead to an overhaul of the American economy and the increased funding and implementation of renewable energy.

Bingaman, who is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, requested that the proposed Clean Energy Standard undergo further analysis by the Energy Information Administration, and the findings indicate it could have a number of benefits, including creating sustainable green jobs.

ThinkProgress.org suggests that the Bingaman bill would lead to resources such as solar, biomass and wind generating twice as much energy as they do under the nation's current energy policy. The proposed legislatioin also looks to cut carbon emissions from power companies by nearly 50 percent over the next 25 years.

Overall, experts suggest the measure could only have a marginal affect on the U.S. GDP, reducing 2035 projections by .02 percent. This statistic may be one of the more important findings, as critics of the bill had long suggested that an overhaul of the country's energy policy could be particularly damaging to economic growth.

Still, experts say that the bill may have difficulty passing through both the House and Senate, a fact that Bingaman himself acknowledges.

"I think it would be very difficult to get it through both houses," Bingaman told reporters in October. "But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t introduce it and talk about it and let people respond to it."

Despite this, President Barack Obama has voiced support for the policy, suggesting himself that a goal of getting 80 percent of the country's energy from low-carbon sources by 2050 was a top national priority.

More green jobs could be available due to solar energy

Due to the rising price of many traditional fuels and a need for new employment opportunities, many U.S. economic experts are beginning to look to renewable energy as a solution to both concerns.

Due to the rising price of many traditional fuels and a need for new employment opportunities, many U.S. economic experts are beginning to look to renewable energy as a solution to both concerns. However, since policymakers have been slow to address these growing concerns, lobbying groups such as the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) have joined the fight. 

On December 1, CASE announced that 12 new companies joined its ranks. The move comes before a vote at the International Trade Commission (ITC), which will settle an anti-trade action filed by SolarWorld and several other solar panel manufacturers. Experts say the decision could have a big influence on the U.S. industry as a whole.

The complaint was originally filed on October 19, and it alleges that due to the emergence of Chinese solar panel makers and subsidies from the Chinese government, American businesses are now unable to compete in the solar panel market. As a result, the group is looking for the ITC and the U.S. Department of Commerce to intercede. Still, others argue that this may not be the best outcome.

"The rapid price reduction of solar panels in the last year has opened up new markets in the U.S. where solar was not previously cost competitive with grid power," Joe Bono, CEO of Solar Universe, a CASE member representing about 200 employees, said in the release. "This is an opportunity for more jobs and lower utility bills, a trend America needs."

Jigar Shah, one of the co-founders of case, agrees, saying that SolarWorld is attempting to level the playing field to increase its ability to compete, which may not be the best thing for the industry as a whole. By inflating prices, the industry may not be able to learn to adapt to the needs of the global market or help in the fight against climate change.