Mike Hower

Currently based in Washington, D.C, Mike Hower is a new media journalist and strategic communication professional focused on helping to drive the conversation at the intersection of sustainable business and public policy. To learn more about Mike, visit his blog, ClimaTalk.

Half of Americans Living With Unsafe Air Pollution

Next time you take a deep breath of fresh air, consider yourself lucky. Nearly half of Americans – more than 147 million people – live in counties where ozone or particle pollution levels make the air unhealthy to breathe, according to a recent report by the American Lung Association.

A Travel Junkie’s Guide to Responsible Tourism

As rewarding as traveling may be for the traveler, this is not always the case for the communities where the traveler treads. There is a common misconception that simply spending money in a country benefits local communities — but there indeed are profound, adverse social and environmental consequences.

Coke, Timberland Reduce Manufacturing Costs With Product Sustainability

Sustainability skeptics often claim that companies invest in product sustainability primarily to “look good” in the eyes of consumers. To them, sustainability is just another form of brand marketing. But they are wrong, according to a new report by sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies. Companies that invest in product sustainability actually see the most benefit from reduced manufacturing costs — ahead of brand enhancement and even risk reduction.

New IPCC Report: The World is On Track for a Hefty Temperature Increase

If the world continues down its current carbon-spewing course, global temperatures will hit a staggering 4.8 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the end of the century, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity, ecosystems, and sustainable development, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Energy Efficiency: The Nation’s Cheapest Energy Resource

What method of electricity generation is cheaper than solar, wind, oil or even coal? Trick question; it’s energy you don’t need to produce in the first place. Energy efficiency programs aimed at reducing energy waste cost utilities only about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, while generating the same amount of electricity from sources such as fossil fuels can cost two to three times more, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

First Interstate Water Credits Program Launched in the Ohio River Basin

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on March 11 officially launched the first water quality pilot trades in the Ohio River Basin. The pilot, which is the world’s only interstate water quality trading program, is part of a new initiative to test water quality improvement strategies.

Ridesharing Firms Struggle to Meet Needs of Americans with Disabilities

Like many living in San Francisco and other major cities across the United States, I have come to rely on transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar to get me around town. TNCs have revolutionized the way many of us get from Point A to Point B, but not for all of us — not yet, anyway. There is a small but significant group that has long been let down by public transportation — the disabled community — and TNCs are struggling to break this trend.

Kiva and Vittana Crowdfund Student Loans in the Developing World

It is no secret that education is the surest route to a better life, but for tens of thousands of low-income students in developing nations, high costs means that access to it continues to be the stuff of fantasy. Student loans are notoriously hard to come by outside of the U.S. and Europe, largely due to the fact that banks have no track record of repayments that can be used to assess risk, and students generally don’t have collateral or a credit history to prove that they can pay back loans.

The answer to this classic “chicken-or-the-egg” problem could lie with crowdfunding, which not only presents an opportunity to get tuition loans to students who need them, but also to build a “track record of repayment” that will encourage financial institutions to offer more loans to students.

Investors Pressure Oil Companies to Disclose Carbon Asset Risk

The jury might still be out on when the world will run out of oil, but the rising human and economic costs associated with climate change, air pollution and overall environmental decline are accelerating the world towards a low-carbon economy. In recognition of this reality, a half-dozen investors recently filed shareholder resolutions with 10 fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, seeking an explanation of their strategies for competing in a low-carbon global market.

Obama Pushes $1 Billion Climate Change ‘Resilience Fund’

Speaking against the backdrop of one of the worst droughts in California history, President Barack Obama on Friday announced plans to pitch to Congress a $1 billion climate change resilience fund intended to help communities facing climate change-induced negative weather.

Lyft Launches Coalition to Bridge Ridesharing Insurance Gaps

In the wake of the tragic New Year’s death of a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco caused by an on-duty Uber driver, along with another recent collision involving a Lyft driver, the public’s attention has turned to the insurance gaps in the fledgling ridesharing industry. To help bridge these gaps, Lyft announced last week a new Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Insurance Coalition, comprised of transportation companies, regulators, insurance providers and other stakeholders that have come together to address how the insurance industry can continue evolving to support the ridesharing economy.

Photo Credit: Uber Blog

Who is Liable When Ridesharing Goes Wrong?

Popular ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have long-operated in a legal gray zone. While the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) unanimous approval of new regulations around ridesharing services last September helped to clear some of the ambiguity, scores of questions remain. Chief of these are liability issues — just who is to blame when things go wrong with ridesharing?