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Recent Articles

Omaha Beach Revisited: “Attitudes need to change”

| Wednesday September 27th, 2006 | 0 Comments

beach_norm.jpgAccording to Costa Christ, director the Bar Harbor, Maine Chamber of Commerce and expert in international travel, tourism currently represents 83% of worldwide export trade. To put this figure in a meaningful context, he adds that tourism is the largest non-military service sector in the world. Travel and tourism spending exceeded $6 trillion globally in 2005, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
If you were a mayor of a coastal city or town anywhere in the world, on what would you base your community’s development strategy? Tourism, of course, which since the 1960´s has often meant creating pristine white beaches where nature never intended them to be and using mechanical sweepers to remove what the sea leaves behind every day at low tide. The French Conservatoire du Littoral, however, is campaigning to leave the beaches “au natural” and hopes that environmentally minded tourists will “vote with their flip-flops” for beach resorts that opt to let Mother Nature do her thing.
Article Here

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GM Moving into Hybrid Territory

| Tuesday January 10th, 2006 | 0 Comments

Despite initially dismissing hybrids as a fad, GM has decided to get in on this automobile sector whose market share is expected to grow three and a half times its current level over the next six years, according to J.D. Power and Associates. At this year’s North American International Auto Show, GM will be introducing two new SUV hybrid models. On the one hand is the Saturn Vue Green Line, which will retail for under $23,000, making it the cheapest hybrid on the market. On the other hand is the Chevy Tahoe, which offers a more sophisticated, “two mode” hybrid system. GM intends to have 12 hybrid models on the road within the next four years. Read more

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When Going Green Means Gaining Greenbacks

| Thursday September 1st, 2005 | 0 Comments

dsire.gifAs testified to in one of yesterday’s postings, alternative energy investments can offer the best ROI yields on the market today . It is well worth exploring this Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website. Take a peek and see if this might be the time for you to go green…both environmentally as well as inside your pocketbook!

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The Pot of Gold at the End of the Sun Beam

| Wednesday August 31st, 2005 | 4 Comments

solarroofchi.jpgWanna go green and get rich at the same time? State and Federal Incentives make solar infrastructure among the most lucrative and risk free investments that can be made. Take the following example:
Here in my home town of Chicago, I am one of three owners living in a residential three flat building. Our monthly natural gas bill associated with hot water averages $170 per month. This totals in excess of $2000 annually. Keep in mind that, in less than a year, natural gas prices have more than doubled.
The total cost of purchasing and installing a system that would best address our building’s hot water needs is approximately $11000. In Illinois, our clean energy rebate program will pay half of the first $10K spent on solar water heat, solar space seat, and photovoltaics. After that, 25% of costs are reimbursed for the next $20K. Given these rebates, this system will cost our condo association an estimated $5750.

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Romantic Organics

| Friday August 12th, 2005 | 2 Comments

roses.jpgIn the 1920s, the Society of American Florists coined the term “say it with flowers”. Americans have consistently been doing so for an increasing number of special occasions ever since. Consumers now have the chance to say it with sustainable flowers. Gerald Prolman’s web-based flower business, Organic Bouquet, affords online shoppers the opportunity to remain romantic while going organic. This is great news for my love life, as on more than one occasion I’ve hit sensitive nerves by staying true to my boycott of the floral industry. Thanks for you help, Mr. Prolman.

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Biofuel Hits the Big Stage

| Wednesday July 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

What do you get when you combine the legendary country singer Willie Nelson and biofuel? “BioWillie”, the newfangled fuel of Texas truckers. Biodiesel, which is derived from vegetable oil, animal fats, and sometimes in used form from the frying pans of restaurants, recently enjoyed a new federal subsidy which has reduced its price. This created the perfect time for a group of Texas investors, including Willie Nelson, to start soliciting what they claim to be the nation’s first branded biodiesel blend–“BioWillie“.
Brian Talley, a 44 year-old truck driver who was filling up on some BioWillie in Fort Worth on his way to Oklahoma to pick up a load of tires, had this to say to The Wall Street Journal:

Everybody wants to keep the environment clean. But people who advocate a shift away from fossil fuel would prefer we lived in caves, walked everywhere we went and ate grass. I’m sorry. I like to eat meat. I like cars. I like modern things. There’s ways of fixing these problems without going to extremes.

Brian, meet BioWillie.

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The G8 tackles Global Warming

| Wednesday July 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

global-warming.gifThe G8, which stands for the “Group of Eight,” will meet this week in Gleneagles, Scotland. Together, these eight industrialized nations comprise 60% of the world’s GDP. At the top of their agenda for this meeting is global climate change. The Economist reports that 24 of the world’s biggest companies petitioned the G8 to develop a worldwide system of greenhouse gas emissions limits, with tradable permits for businesses. These permits would limit the amount of CO2 each company could emit.
The only such mandatory system currently in place was started this year by the EU. Under this system, companies are given a certain allowance for carbon dioxide emissions. By improving their emissions standards, companies who fall under their designated emissions allowance can sell their excess “carbon permits” to companies who have exceeded their limits. Currently, the U.S. has a similar program called the Chicago Climate Exchange, but membership is optional and not government enforced.
Presently the US opposes mandatory emissions standards. US support for such measures is seen as vital, largely because America is the world’s largest polluter. With China poised to overtake the US as the greatest greenhouse gas producer by 2025 and India right behind (see SF Chronicle), a unified accord could serve as a vital precedent for such rapidly developing nations. US backing of such policies in slowing the heating of the planet appears to be vital.

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Better Burned Abroad: Exporting Oil Proves Economically and Ecologically Advantageous for Venezuela

| Tuesday July 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

Stack.jpgWith oil prices surging 4% Friday to get back near $60 a barrel, Venezuelan oil earns ten times more on the international market than it does domestically. Such lopsided price ratios have inspired PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, to boost fuel exports by 100,000 barrels per month. PVSA aims to do this not by increasing their overall production levels, but rather through renewable energy projects within Venezuela, whereby the nation’s lowered oil consumption will allow for a higher volume of exports.
This is an interesting case, as it involves the insatiable appetite of the global market for oil creating an economic climate within Venezuela in which it is advantageous to become less petrol dependant. In becoming less petroleum dependant, Venezuela has a greater amount of oil remaining to export, as well as cleaner air inside its borders. At present, Venezuela is the fourth leading exporter of crude oil worldwide.

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Mercedes Mimics Nature

| Friday July 1st, 2005 | 1 Comment

Daimler Benz has taken German automotive engineering to the next level of emissions efficiency by engaging in a process called biomimicry, “the conscious copying of mechanisms from natural organisms and ecologies.” In this instance, Mercedes looked for naturally occurring examples of safety, comfort and aerodynamic efficiency.
The specie best embodying these qualities for Mercedes’ purposes turned out to be the boxfish. Contrary to what you might expect of its cube-shaped body, this tropical fish represents an aerodynamic ideal. The end result of this engineering mimicry: A diesel car averaging 70 miles to the gallon. If you want to take it to the next level, diesel engines can be easily converted to run on biofuel, which is any fuel derived from biomass (recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts).

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Buying Green Draws Lender Incentives

| Thursday June 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

EnergyHome.jpgFannie Mae has launched an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program, which enables borrowers to qualify for larger loans than they would for non energy efficient homes. While this program promotes the design, construction and purchase of energy efficient dwellings, the incentive for Fannie Mae to offer such incentives is motivated by a pure bottom line rationale. The reasoning is simple: Borrowers buying energy efficient homes “can afford to spend more on their housing expenses because they will likely spend less on their energy costs.” Energy futures are as uncertain at present as they have been at any time in recent memory, so it will come as no surprise if such programs continue to proliferate. Just as increasing premium costs reflect insurance companies’ recognition of “global weirding” (a term coined by Hunter and Amory Lovins) energy efficient mortgage incentives signify the understanding of potentially highly volatile energy futures on the part of a multi billion dollar industry. Read more on Fannie Mae’s website.

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Wind Energy Finds Congressional Resistance

| Monday June 13th, 2005 | 8 Comments

wind44.jpgAs reported by Clean Edge, the wind industry recently had a “shot fired across the industry’s bow” on the eve of the American Wind Energy Association’s largest ever convention. The culprits: Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Warner of Virginia. They are the two driving forces behind the Environmetnally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005, which calls for the increased legislation of windmills.
Senator Warner has already gone on record as being opposed to the first ever U.S. offshore wind farm off Cape Cod. While this could easily take the wind out of the sails for those advocating renewables, it may mean that wind power’s increased viability is causing those most vested in traditional energy sources to shake in their boots. As cited earlier on Triple Pundit , Shell WindEnergy has plans in the works to create the world’s largest windfarm, which could supply London with up to 25% of its power. As wind’s lack of large scale viability continues to blow away, we will likely see an increased resistance to windfarms overall. Odd as it may seem, this actually may be a good sign.

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BeeWare – A Cautionary Look at Globalization

| Monday June 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

bee3.jpgAbout 60% of all food consumed in the U.S. has a relationship with the bee through pollination. The services these oft feared insects provide is beyond measure. In fiscal terms, America would lose an estimated $20 billion in crops without the pollination bees provide. Lately however, their numbers are declining fast due to the varroa mite, an invasive species first found in the U.S. in 1987. Phenomenons such as this underscore one of the potentially negative economic consequences of globalization. While much of the world has enjoyed the economic pleasures of the expanding global market, the increased proliferation of world trade allows for a greater exchange of invasive species such as the varroa mite. More details on this issue can be found in The Economist (subscription required).

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Can Ranchers Save the Rainforest?

| Tuesday May 31st, 2005 | 2 Comments

cattle.jpgClear cutting of the rain forest for the purpose of cattle grazing is seen by many as the number one enemy of the Amazon. Ironically, it may be that those doing the cutting are the future saviours of this vast expanse of land often dubbed the “lungs of the earth”. Through an incentive program similar to that employed in the logging industry, producers of Amazonian soya and beef could slap a sustainability seal on their products if they adhere to environmental laws that restrict the amount of clear cutting being done in the cultivation of these foods.

Last month, The Nature Conservancy….announced an agreement by which Cargill, a huge American agriculture company, will buy soya near its export terminal at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajos rivers only from farmers who obey the law or are clearly moving towards doing so.

Read more in this week’s Economist

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China’s Wind Energy Conversion – Too Little Too Late?

| Tuesday May 24th, 2005 | 0 Comments

chinawind.jpgEstimates are that over 3/4 of all energy produced in China last year came from coal. Not only is China the world’s most populated country (1.25 billion people) but it is also the world’s fastest growing economy (9.5% increase in GDP for 2004). Put these two together, and that is a lot of coal being burned, with energy demands increasing in unison with the expanding economy.
Is there a cleaner solution? China has unveiled a strategy to make offshore wind farms a key part of its energy program within two or three decades. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, can the planet’s most populous nation afford the envrionmental taxation of two or three decades more of blistering growth fueled by coal?

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Effects of Gulf Stream Slowdown on Business? Use Your Imagination

| Monday May 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

gulfstream.jpgBritain, which resides on the same latitude as Siberia, would be much colder, were it not for the Gulf Stream. This current transports an estimated 27,000 times more heat to England’s shores than all the power supplies in Britain could provide, warming the country by 5-8C. Researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream, evidently tied to global warming.
It is difficult to predict what the effects of this will be. Currents and weather systems take years to respond, so the jury will still be out on this one for awhile. Some models suggest Europe and specifically England will freeze, another is that the continent will cool while the rest of the world heats up due to global warming.
How does this relate to business? Better put, how doesn’t this relate to business? Imagine the consequences of a cooling Europe. Everything from agricultural to energy needs would be flipped on its head, with unimaginable fiscal consequences. Such consequences, unpredictable as they may be, must still be considered, as their effects are so overarching. Given such prospects, it seems no coincidence that carbon trading commenced this year in Europe, largely spurred by efforts to reduce global climate change.

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