Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Noah, the first circular economy car

Noah is an experimental electric car made from recyclable materials. The chassis is made from flax and a sugar biopolymer. Sweet! It can go about 150miles on a charge and it incredibly efficient.
"The complete drivetrain has been optimized and with a gearbox called "Smesh Gear" which will reach an efficiency of 97% (!) during acceleration and even a 100% efficiency at constant speeds, this makes the entire drivetrain of Noah incredibly energy efficient. The electromotors are powered by six modular batteries that enable easy battery swapping and the possibility to gradually introduce better battery technology when available. For Noah to be future ready he is equipped with NFC scanners in the doors which make him perfect for carsharing. With this NFC scanner, the door can be opened by any mobile device, Noah will immediately recognize the user and set the car to his or her personal preferences."


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sedona Candidate Forum--Answers to Sustainability Questions

Ten of 12 candidates for mayor and council showed up for the Sustainability Forum today (July 28) at Mary D Fisher Theatre. If you weren't able to make the event or want to learn more about candidate views on sustainability, we encouraged candidates to post their answers and we offered to post their answers on our website as well. Ones that we were sent can be found here.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nordic alternative to the food pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet has long been a model. Now some are focusing on the Nordic alternative, 10 simple principles that encourage eating seasonal and wild foods, reducing waste and having a lighter footprint on the planet.
1. Eat more fruit and vegetables every day 
2. Eat more whole grain produce 
3. Eat more food from the seas and lakes 
4. Eat higher-quality meat, and less of it 
5. Eat more food from wild landscapes 
6. Eat organic produce whenever possible 
7. Avoid food additives 
8. Eat more meals based on seasonal produce 
9. Eat more home-cooked food 
10. Produce less waste

Monday, July 23, 2018

This company isn’t having any trouble finding ag workers

No doubt, farming is hard work. We’re told that Americans don’t want to do it; only desperate undocumented migrant laborers. But this new organization, organized as a labor trust, similar to a worker owned cooperative, is growing by leaps and bounds.

The key to it all is replacing the traditional middleman. In the case of California Harvesters, that means the farm labor contractors, or FLCs, who supply a majority of the agricultural workforce to growers up and down the state’s giant farm belt.
California Harvesters charges growers the same as an FLC does. But it takes the amount of the total labor bill that’s pocketed by the FLC–5% to 8% after expenses, those in the industry say–and directs that sum back to the employees in the form of higher wages, more generous benefits, and so on.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vitol, largest oil trader, putting money into renewables

Probably a decade ago, the Saudi oil minister famously said, “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stones and the Oil Age won’t end for lack of oil.”

Here’s another indicator that the Oil Age is on the wane. Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, has just partnered with Low Carbon to set up a renewable fund. They appear to be focused on investments in Europe.

The world's biggest oil trader is setting up a renewable energy fund - Business Insider https://apple.news/AzKscbiT-S5OPalB5cmRfGQ

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Can Bitcoin bring solar to the developing world?

To scale up solar, there are some problems we need to address. One is geographic: some places get a lot more sun that others (and that sun may not always correspond to peak demand). A second is up-front costs: how can people who are barely getting by (either in the developing or developed world) afford to pay for panels?

Sun Exchange is making it possible, using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, to de-couple who owns the panels, where they are and who gets the energy.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sacramento intends to be electric car capital of US

Sacramento CA is rolling out a number of initiatives to lead the electric vehicles, including passenger cars, golf carts and buses.


Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 Sedona elections: What do the candidates think about sustainability?

Public Forum on Sustainability,  July 28, 1:00-2:30 at the Mary D. Fisher Theater.

At this point we have 10 candidates confirmed as planning to attend in person. Andrea Christelle, owner of Sedona Philosophy and former board member of the local League of Women Voters, will be the facilitator.

Sustainability is embedded in the Sedona Community Plan, voted on by the community, and a recent National Citizen Survey revealed strong support for action on 6 sustainability areas. Our questions invite the candidates to explore their ideas in light of how they would help our People, Planet and Prosperity.


The format the Sustainability Alliance has chosen for this event is as follows:

  • WELCOME (Darcy Hitchcock)
  • INTRODUCTIONS (1 min per candidate)
  • SUSTAINABILITY QUESTIONS (candidates speak 2 min each on three of 5 questions)
  • WRAP UP (Andrea Christelle)


Our community is working to  balance economic vitality (which in Sedona, has been closely linked with tourism) and livability for local residents.

How do we maintain a prosperous community while addressing the impacts of tourism?

We all come here, visitors and residents alike, for the natural beauty. But this natural beauty is adversely affected by human impacts, including (but not limited to)  trail erosion, water pollution and supply. Additional development and climate change may exacerbate these challenges.

Which of these issues, or others, are priorities for you, and what can the City of Sedona do to help residents & visitors mitigate impacts on the environment?

One of the six major outcomes of the Community Plan is a commitment to environmental protection. That vision imagines that Sedona will become “an international model for the successful balancing of environmental and human wants and needs.” 

To what degree should we focus on becoming a model for other communities, and how can we work toward that goal?

The National Citizen Survey that Sedona conducted last year revealed very strong support for “investing in creating sustainability policies and programs” for each of six environmental issues alternative energy, water conservation, National Forest stewardship, recycling services, zero waste goal and higher green building standards.

Which of these opportunities, or others, would you want the city to address first and how?

Another of the 6 major outcomes in the community plan relates to economic diversity.

How do you see economic diversification happening in a way that protects the planet and enhances the lives of those in our workforce?

Carbon farming: One way to fix the climate problem

Carbon farming. Hmm, no milking, birthing, or harvesting? Well, those things might still be involved but changing farming and ranching practices can put carbon back into the earth. Bioneers is launching a new series to explore the advances in carbon farming.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Apple investing $300 million in clean energy in China

Let's face it. All those devices take a lot of energy to produce and use. So Apple is trying to remedy some of their impacts. They just announced a $300 million fund to develop clean energy in China.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Critters cheer: computer now better than animal testing for toxicity

You really don’t want to know what it took to bring your personal care and household products to market. Unless the container says cruelty-free or not tested on animals, it was likely rubbed into rabbits’ eyes and force-fed to mice.

But now there is really no need to torture animals this way. A new computer program is now more reliable than animal testing.


Friday, July 13, 2018

How to get more energy without new power plants

Some people worry that as we electrify our transportation system, we won’t have enough electricity production to charge the vehicles. But our energy system is hugely inefficient; over half the energy created by a power plant is wasted as heat. Europe has spearheaded combined heat and power plants where the waste heat is used to heat buildings and drive industrial processes. I visited waste to energy plants that cleanly burned what could not be recycled and generated heat and electricity.

But there are even more interesting opportunities. Imagine not needing batteries because you could charge your phone or other device by pressing a button. Whirlpool turbines set in rivers can generate electricity without dams. Read more...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Star gazing is new sustainable tourism trend

Flagstaff, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek and most recently Camp Verde are International Dark Sky communities. This sets the Verde Valley for the latest travel trend: astrotourism. No, that's not getting a ride on Elon Musk's rocket. It's enjoying the night sky, increasingly rare in the electrified world.

Here's an article about the trend that includes a listing of some of the best communities to view the dark sky.


Build roads with plastic waste!

An engineer has figured out how to take plastic waste and use it in road construction and repair. Watch the short video at this link.

British engineer, Toby McCartney, has developed a way to use waste plastic as a binding agent in asphalt, replacing most of the conventional bitumen, an oil product. His method reduces plastic waste, decreases the need for oil, and creates tougher, longer-lasting roads.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Businesses committing to net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050

We Mean Business is a coalition of corporations pushing to improve the climate change targets around the world and to ramp up progress toward meaningful levels. They have a number of different tools (like a climate policy tracker to help businesses maximize their opportunities) and a Net-Zero by 2050 pledge which includes having approved, science-based targets.

Currently five companies have committed to set science-based target, or had their target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, and have also pledged to take their companies to net-zero. These are: Kering, Unilever, Broad Group, Safaricom, and Natura.

Monday, July 9, 2018

IKEA getting into repairs, used furniture

Part of the path toward sustainability is to shift from products to services, move away from business models that require selling more of the world’s resources. Interface Carpet’s Evergreen Lease is the iconic example, leasing carpet tiles and taking them back to make new carpet.

Now IKEA is planning to grow by offering services, ways to update rather than replace furniture, and to sell used furniture. It also is working on sourcing only materials that are renewable or from recycled materials.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Grow food underground in a walipini

Climate change may wreak havoc on our agricultural systems as weather becomes more unpredictable. But some are finding ways to grow food partially underground. These are cheaper than greenhouses and provide a stable micro-climate.


Blueprint for a green economy

While in Iceland for vacation, I lucked out choosing a guide who had been elected to Council to promote sustainable practices. He shared an English version abstract of their plan for a green economy. Unfortunately it hasn’t been implemented (yet, we can hope) but it may give guidance to others who share an interest in creating a sustainable economy.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Housing fast, in increments: an idea for workforce housing and disaster recovery

In Curitiba, Brazil, the municipality helped poor people build their own homes, one room at a time. Texas, having faced disaster after disaster, is using a similar model to get people back into their homes fast. There’s a core module with Kitchen, bath and bedroom, designed to be added onto as more funding becomes available. It’s called RAPIDO. Take a look. This could also be a response to affordable workforce housing.


One point in the video that sticks with me is the need to determine, long before a disaster happens, what the community would want to do with the funding that typically follows.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

EU reimagining agriculture for a sustainable future

Our agricultural system is unsustainable. Soils are being depleted, water is being polluted, and Americans are getting fat. The EU recently held a gathering to reimagine the future of agriculture in Europe.
"We need a fundamental transition to sustainable food and farming systems," said Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. "We need shifts in food production, processing, retail, and consumption to occur at the same time. And we need a clear direction of travel at EU level. That is why we need a Common Food Policy."


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nordic countries sledding down the climate curve

Nordic countries took the energy crisis in the 1970's to heart and have since been working to switch to renewables. Of course, they're still pumping oil from the North Sea; it's a transitional process.  But as a result of these efforts, while their GDP is up 28% since 2000 (better than Germany), their greenhouse gas emissions are DOWN 18 percent.

Just a taste of the latest milestones: In Norway, more than half of all new car sales are electric or hybrid models, just as entire fleets of ferries that run on batteries are being produced. Last year, Denmark set the world record for a wind-powered economy, generating 43% of electricity from wind power. The Swedes and Finns are paving the way in producing biogas from waste and vegetation and turning it into fuel for heating and automobile engines. Iceland and Norway already run on renewable energy, so abundant are their geothermal and hydro resources, respectively.

Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is one of Europe's smartest cities, or low-carbon sustainable cities; two-thirds of its residents cycle to work, while only 9% drive cars. There are 233 miles of bike path, and the city is continuing to expand the routes and bridges for cyclists. In few other big cities is the downtown air so clean, which lands Copenhagen among the world's most livable cities year in, year out.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Automakers ask for efficiency standards

The AAM, Alliance of American Auotmakers, recently sent a letter to the government, affirming climate change.
“Automakers remain committed to increasing fuel efficiency requirements, which yield everyday fuel savings for consumers while also reducing emissions — because climate change is real and we have a continuing role in reducing greenhouse gases and improving fuel efficiency,” said David Schwietert, the organization’s executive vice president of federal government relations.