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.

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Intel CEO Challenges Electronics Industry to Dump ‘Conflict Minerals’

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich reminded us that the cost of producing technological wonders goes well beyond dollar signs. Always absent from the final price tag of these items are the externalities of shattered human dignity and lost lives.

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Can the US Navy Turn the Tide with Biofuels?

More than a century after the “Great White Fleet” ushered in a new era of U.S. involvement in global affairs, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that Navy would demonstrate and then deploy a “Great Green Fleet” – a carrier strike group fueled by alternative energy sources. Mabus described embracing biofuels as an economic and military imperative, but is it feasible on a large scale?

It’s the Numbers, Stupid! Data-Driven Policies Will Lead to Tomorrow’s Smart Cities

From the first cities in ancient Mesopotamia to modern metropolises, urban locales have served as cultural and commercial hubs for societies across the globe. As of 2008, the world’s urban population finally surpassed that of the rural — and this trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. By 2050, it is estimated that 70 percent of the 9 billion people then-living on this planet will reside in cities.

Ten Start-Ups That Helped Save the World in 2013

Recent years have seen an explosion of start-ups focused not only on generating profit, but also bettering the planet and everyone living on it. Whether it’s tackling climate change, alleviating global poverty or reducing landfill burdens, these entrepreneurs are figuring out how to make a living while also making a difference.

Why ‘Made in America’ Does Not Have to Mean ‘Unaffordable’

“Made in America” labels aren’t exactly a common sight these days. Check the tag on the shirt or pants you are wearing, and chances are it will read “Made in… [China], [Bangladesh], [Vietnam] or…” Well, you get the point. Yet, many Americans prefer to buy American made when given the opportunity.

Photo Credit: Flickr James Wang

Delta Air Lines Joins Oil Industry Groups to Fight EPA Biofuel Mandates

Delta Air Lines recently joined other oil industry trade groups to fight the U.S. biofuel mandate that requires refiners to meet an annual biofuel quota, either through production or through the purchase of credits.

The airline filed a lawsuit through its year-old refiner, Monroe Energy, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that challenges the EPA’s 2013 renewable fuel requirements, according to FuelFix.

Under the EPA policy, refiners generate renewable identification numbers (basically, compliance credits) for every gallon of biofuel they incorporate. Monroe’s status as a “merchant refiner” that sells unblended products to wholesale marketers means it must always purchase credits. The refiner, in its Oct. 4 federal court petition, claimed this forces it to spend millions of dollars to acquire compliance credits at what it says are “artificially inflated” prices.

Photo Credit: Flickr Austen Hufford

640,000+ Favorable Comments on SEC Petition for Greater Corporate Political Transparency

In 2011, ten professors of law sent a petition to the SEC, urging it to require corporations to disclose all significant political spending so shareholders can hold their companies accountable. As of last month, the petition already had garnered more than 640,000 comments – 99.7 percent of which were in support of greater transparency.

Photo Credit: Flickr SteveR

Sierra Nevada Saves More Than $5M Diverting 99.8% of Waste

Next time you pop open a Pale Ale, you can feel a little less guilty (not that you ever should). Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. announced last week that it now diverts 99.8 percent of its waste, earning it the first platinum certification from the US Zero Waste Business Council.

Coal Industry Rallies Against Proposed EPA Power Plant Regulations

Nearly 3,000 miners and workers from across the coal industry descended on Capitol Hill late last month to protest President Obama’s alleged “War on Coal” — more specifically the carbon emission rules the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released for new power plants, and will release for existing plants in 2014.

The rules, pursuant of the Clean Air Act, cap carbon emissions at future coal-fired power plants at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for new natural gas power plants. With the average coal-fired power plant emitting around 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, naturally the Coal Lobby was displeased.

'Wallam e’ jangde" means “help me learn” in Fulaani, a local Senegalese language.

Baskets Build Schools, Empower Women in West Africa

Two of the biggest problems afflicting the people of West Africa is a lack of access to education and employment — without one, the other is difficult to attain. So says Valerie Lemke, Co-Founder of Jjangde, a social enterprise that strives to address both issues by connecting handmade goods from rural communities in Senegal to global markets, and using the profits to fund schools in the communities where the goods were made.

Hurricane Sandy From Space.

Climate Change Inaction Costs Taxpayers Billions

There is a lingering perception that investing in technologies, initiatives and processeses aimed at countering climate change is just another drain on already troubled U.S. taxpayers. But what about the cost of inaction?

According to a new report by Ceres, extreme weather events cost the United States $100 billion in 2012, most of which went towards federal crop, flood, wildfire and disaster relief. While naysayers continue to claim weather events like Hurricane Sandy and climate change are unrelated, scientists agree that climate change exacerbates extreme weather events. The intensity and frequency of these events will only increase as the planet warms up.

Photo Credit: Flicker Ben Schueddekopf

Businesses Denounce Austerity, Urge Congress to Invest in Sustainable Economy

The Capitol Hill standoff between President Obama and House Republicans may be over (for now), but more than 165,000 businesses say the budget deal reached by Congress last week does not go far enough to address the underlying economic problems afflicting the nation. The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) has called for policymakers to stop imposing austerity and begin making strategic investments to foster a sustainable economy.


Startup Develops Eco-Friendly Material to Replace Wood and Plastic

Australian-based materials company Zeoform claims to have developed a new material made of cellulose fiber and water, which has the potential to replace plastic and wood in a variety of applications. The company says the 100 percent non-toxic material has the beauty of wood, the strength of fiberglass and the versatility of plastic.