Sunday, January 21, 2018

Conservative registers for climate class as a joke, becomes advocate

At the Alliance, we avoid painting sustainability as a conservative or liberal issue. It’s divisive and unhelpful. After all, Nixon, a Republican, created many of the environmental laws we have benefitted from: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the EPA. The politicization of climate change is unfortunate. Perhaps it started when Al Gore decided to be the spokesperson for the issue. But never forget that people on both sides of the political spectrum cherish the environment. Whether they hike or hunt, they’re all trying to reconnect to Nature.

Here’s a story of a Montana hunter who signed up to a Climate course as a joke, to heckle the professor. Find out what happened next.

Don’t Let Anyone Fool You: There ARE Environmental Conservatives - Mother Jones

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Diversity can make companies more profitable

In this recent follow-up study by McKinsey, its clear that a diverse management team can make a significant difference in the financial health of large companies. It's likely also true of small to medium sized companies, in part because it better reflects the population the company is serving.

In the original research, using 2014 diversity data, we found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. In our expanded 2017 data set this number rose to 21 percent and continued to be statistically significant. For ethnic and cultural diversity, the 2014 finding was a 35 percent likelihood of outperformance, comparable to the 2017 finding of a 33 percent likelihood of outperformance on EBIT margin; both were also statistically significant.

Take a look at the study to unpack what gender vs ethnic diversity can do for your business.

Evian closing loop on plastic or greenwashing?

Evian is committing to using 100% recycled plastic in their bottles by 2025. Ok.....

 On the positive side, they are collaborating with Ellen MacArthur’s circular economy and a group that pulls plastic from the ocean.

But this hardly makes me eager to encourage people to buy bottled water.

0.5 degree C doesn’t sound like much but with climate it is huge

You may have heard scientists argue about 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius global temperature change. But what are the implications of shooting past 1.5? There’s a wonderful table in this article that shows the difference. The impact on crop yields is especially concerning.

Then look at the chart with concentric circles. It shows how many years at current emissions we have to stay at those levels and at what probability. We have 6 years to have a 66% probability of staying within 1.5C.

This graphic explains why 2 degrees of global warming will be way worse than 1.5 - Vox

But all organizations and individuals can fix this NOW! TODAY! Solar panels, changing your diet, buying an electric car, all those things are great. But they might take a little time. But you can buy carbon offsets to eliminate your carbon impact today.

Calculate your carbon emissions from last year and donate to a certified carbon credit. I just did it for my household and it cost me $68. For the year. We have solar panels and one electric/hybrid car but we did go to Europe. It might cost your household a couple hundred dollars. Isn’t it worth it?

EPA carbon calculator for households:

Choose your carbon offset project here:

Find other certified offset brokers:

NRDC explanation of carbon offsets:

Now you have no excuses. Offset your emissions and then tell us what it cost and what project you supported. Let’s make this a social norm: did you get your flu shot, did you offset your climate impact?

Friday, January 19, 2018

World’s largest investment fund tells CEOs to get on sustainability bandwagon

Larry Fink, the head of Blackrock, the world’s largest investment fund, just put corporations on notice that they need to do a lot more for society and stop fixating on quarterly returns.

“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” Fink said in a much cited letter to CEOs. “Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
In a Deloitte Survey, fully 92% of the CEOs supported working toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals but only 17% already had work underway to address them by 2030.

Awareness precedes action. Now a very powerful individual is telling public companies to get their act together.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Major city about to run out of water

Turn on the tap and nothing comes out. Think it can't happen?

Check out Cape Town which is going to have to stop delivering water to all but emergency locations on Earth Day. It would be ironic if it weren't so alarming.

Years of drought have left them counting down the days, praying for rain, and building plans for emergency water distribution. At least they are on the coast where desalination is feasible (with associated environmental impacts, of course, depending on how they do it) but those plants won't be up and running in time. May usually starts the rainy season so they might get lucky, but brinksmanship with water is never smart.

As climate change makes weather anomalies more likely, we should all be thinking about Plan B.

How artificial light messes with nature

Artificial light has been a hallmark of civilization. You’ve probably seen the night pictures of the globe where industrial cities sparkle. But this desire to light up the night affects our health and really messes with Nature. This article is a nice summary of the most recent science and it shows how complex the interactions are.

The solution doesn’t have to be plunging ourselves back into darkness. Sedona is an International Dark Sky community, honoring guidelines to protect the night sky. We carry flashlights the way Oregonians carry umbrellas. In parts of Europe, the street lights only come on when people walk by. We can save energy, improve our health and protect nature by making the stars shine again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

World is pedal to the metal on renewable energy

Decades ago, a Saudi oil minister was quoted as saying, “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stones and the Oil Age won’t end for lack of oil.”

It’s happening now. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, we are two years away from the point at which renewables are so inexpensive that they will beat out fossil fuels globally. Even Big Oil is getting serious about investing in renewable technologies.

Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration underscored how quickly the renewable energy trend has overtaken the power generation field, with a new report titled, “Nearly half of utility-scale capacity installed in 2017 came from renewables,” at 12 gigawatts or so. EIA estimated the total in utility-scale capacity additions for 2017 at about 25 gigawatts.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Clothing: how to do the right thing with your fashion choices

Fashion, just the idea of it, seems designed to destroy the planet. Buy a bunch of stuff so that you can maintain your place in society and then next year, throw it away and buy new stuff because somewhere, someone has determined the old stuff isn’t cool anymore. Ack! Why are we such a maniputable (if that’s a word) species?

But it’s not okay to walk around naked, so what is an eco-conscious person supposed to do?

Here’s an article about several trends to watch in the fashion/clothing industry which may help you make more ethical choices. I’d only add to shop at thrift stores and donate to them. And to buy timeless pieces and stop worrying about what’s in fashion!

Giving the Earth a seat on corporate boards

No, the Earth doesn’t actually sit down in the boardroom, but this Cambridge Program is driving boards to integrate sustainability into boards’ duties.

It’s time, [Phillipe] Joubert asserts, to acknowledge the true value of nature, which means starting to calculate the environmental costs of producing a product. “If we don’t do this we’re distributing fake profits ..... .and paying fake bonuses and fake dividends.”  The argument is that without accounting for nature’s services, we can’t know the real value of a company.
He talks of an “earth-competent” board whose members understand sustainability, ask the right questions of management, and exercise their fiduciary duties. Part of this is a duty to respect nature, he says, “which is absolutely consistent with acting in the interest of the company they lead”.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Making solar installations cute

Lots of cities build a highly visible, iconic sign for their community like the Hollywood sign or the initial of the city in white rocks on the hill. If you’re going to create a huge solar farm, why not make it look like something too? This city in Poland is making the solar farm look like the deer it’s named form.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Getting rid of take-out containers

Lots of cities and corporations are pursuing zero waste as a strategy. According to this article, 30% of  our wastestream is packaging. To-go containers are often not recyclable or compostable. The University of California Irvine found switching to reusable containers was easy. This could work in many settings where customers often return to the same place.

Around a third of campus meals, about 350,000 are taken to-go every year. The difference now is that students take them in reusable containers that are returned, washed, and used again.
 Takeout creates a lot of trash. It doesn't have to. - Vox

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mirror, mirror, who's the fairest sustainable destination of them all?

The Economist just published a report based on the Sustainable Tourism Index. It rates countries on their sustainable tourism practices.

To me what is most interesting is not so much the content but that The Economist is publishing it. It shows the increasing rise of sustainable tourism.

Jeopardy question: The country bought more electric than gas-powered cars last month

A. What is Norway.

“Tesla was largely responsible for the increase last month due to its cyclic delivery schedule in Europe. The California-based automaker delivered 1,032 Model S sedans and 1,429 Model X SUVs.
The vehicles were the second and first bestselling passenger cars respectively for the month.
As for the full year 2017, BEVs and PHEVs captured 39.2 percent of the market – up from 29.1 percent in 2016.”