Fish has been part of the human diet and culture since the beginning of time. It seems almost inconceivable that it could suddenly stop being available. But we’re headed for a cliff if we don’t improve sustainable fishing worldwide.
Last year I found myself sputtering in disbelief when the waitress told me lake perch sliders were no longer available at my favorite local bar and grill. That same week a local fast food place that had always offered a lake perch sandwich switched to a generic fried “fish” sandwich. Along the Michigan coast of Lake Michigan, yellow perch has long been traditional and ubiquitous fare. But numerous factors including severely limited commercial fishing and a precipitous drop in Lake Michigan perch populations has eroded availability of this cultural staple.
This is a microcosm of an even larger issue. The world’s oceans are in decline. Ocean catch reached its highest point, “peak fish,” back in the 1990s. It’s been declining fairly steadily since then. We’re taking more fish from the ocean in unsustainable ways than the ocean can provide. As of 2010 fishing operations harvested over 80 million metric tons of wild caught fish worldwide. That doesn’t even include the bycatch — the undesired marine life caught while harvesting a desired species. Bycatch, estimated to be between 7 million and 38 million metric tons globally, can sometimes dwarf the desired harvest for a given species. In one extreme example, wild shrimp can come at a cost of 62 pounds of bycatch per pound of shrimp. So when we talk about the depletion of ocean wildlife, it goes beyond what we see on our plates.
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 significant group that has long been let down by public transportation — the disabled community — and TNCs are struggling to break this trend.
I was reminded of this during a recent Lyft ride, where I happened to be picked up by one of the few wheelchair accessible vehicles in its (or any other TNC’s) fleet. My driver said her husband uses a wheelchair for mobility and regularly faces difficulties getting around the city when attempting to take taxis and MUNI (San Francisco’s light rail and bus system). MUNI buses often pass him by rather than stop to pick him up, and even wheelchair-accessible taxis often refuse to pick him up because they don’t want to lose the time it takes to lower and raise the lift and to strap him in.
To be fair, as a regular MUNI passenger, I can say first-hand that they seem to do a good job with accessibility — most buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts and can “kneel” (lower the front of the bus) if a person has trouble moving up stairs. I have witnessed drivers make space for wheelchair users, and personally assist them to fasten the safety straps and wheel lock.
The ingenious Toyota i-Road program combines the convenience of a bike rental service, the comfort of an enclosed car and the compact footprint of a motorcycle in this electric three-wheeler that is being tested by rail commuters in Aichi, Japan in self-service vehicle-sharing stations. The program has initially been successful, with a growing amount of repeat users and high adoption rates.
There are now plans to introduce a car-sharing fleet of nearly 70 vehicles in the town of Grenoble in the French Alps, for a three-year test, starting at the end of 2014. The program is being adopted as solution for reducing greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The two-seater i-Road is designed for the “last mile” mobility needs of commuters that might otherwise bike or walk, thus complementing existing public transportation systems. Unlike a motorcycle, the enclosed cabin keeps the elements out. The i-Road has a single rear wheel that pivots and the vehicle uses an Active Lean technology for tight, stable turns. The i-Road automatically leans around corners, and Toyota says no specialized skill is required to operate it.
Guests at the Hilton hoping to order shark fin soup will have to take their business elsewhere: The hospitality giant recently announced a ban on the controversial delicacy in its restaurants and facilities worldwide – including the 96 properties it owns and manages in the Asia Pacific – by this April.
The company took shark fin off its menus in all restaurants and food and beverage facilities in China and Southeast Asia in December 2012, but continued to serve it upon request. Starting in September 2013, Hilton banned shark fin in its Southeast Asian properties, declining orders for the contentious ingredient, and implemented the same policy in its Greater Chinese facilities in February.
As the 2014 proxy season takes shape, more investors than ever are seeking transformation of corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. A record-breaking 417 social and environmental shareholder resolutions have been filed so far this proxy season, with political spending and climate change driving the majority of the activity.
This year we have broken every record on the number of resolutions filed, and over the past decade the average vote in support of social and environmental resolutions has nearly doubled. Shareholders today are looking not at these issues in isolation. Instead, they articulate a systemic critique, pointing out the connections between excessive political spending, inadequate energy policy, the dangers of our changing climate and its damaging impact on water and agriculture, toxic hazards, and how these are related to human rights.
Just in time for World Water Day: The European Wind Energy Association has released a report examining the role that water plays in energy production. And the numbers are staggering.
According to the report, 44 percent of water usage in the European Union goes to energy production. That includes coal, nuclear, biofuels and natural gas, Europe’s four thirstiest energy industries. That’s almost half what is used in the next largest sector, agriculture, which is 24 percent.
Forest clearing for palm oil, like this in Sabah, Malaysia, destroys habitat for endangered species and contributes to climate change.
By Calen May-Tobin
Like most Americans, I’m really devoted to the products I buy. I’ve been using Old Spice since I was 15 and entered my “Frank Sinatra” phase, on a bad day nothing cheers me up quite like a bowl (or six) of Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and seeing a Taco Bell sign or McDonald’s golden arches on a long car trip never fails to reinvigorate me. For better or worse, we Americans have developed an attachment to these brands and the companies that make them.
So, as I delved into the commitments these companies have made to address palm-related deforestation and peatland destruction, I was disheartened to see how little some of the brands I love are doing to address the problem. That research was part of a project to score 30 top consumer companies in the fast food, personal care and packaged food sectors on their commitments to source deforestation- and peat-free palm oil. The report, which was released this week, shows that while a few companies are leading the way, most have a long way to go to fully address palm-related habitat destruction and climate emissions.
Leftover prescription and over-the-counter drugs flushed down the toilet or tossed in the garbage can end up in oceans and waterways, polluting the environment and threatening human health. Cash-strapped jurisdictions across California have come up with a patchwork of programs to collect and safely dispose of these medications, but now one state senator is proposing a statewide solution with a more reliable funding source, introducing legislation that would require the pharmaceutical industry to finance and manage drug disposal across the Golden State.
Ener.co is working with Joule Assets for energy efficiency financing
According to the EPA, buildings in the U.S. account for 36 percent of total energy used in the country and 65 percent of all electricity consumption, so any improvements in building energy efficiency that can be made provide a tremendous opportunity for huge benefits. That said, when it comes to energy, funding has tended to flow more freely towards renewable energy generation projects than towards energy efficiency projects — effectively creating a barrier to necessary work, which would otherwise make the country’s buildings far greener.
One energy efficiency and demand response financier is seeking to address this problem. “What is missing in the energy efficiency industry is akin to what is allowing solar to take off now,” says Mike Gordon, CEO of Joule Assets Inc, “There has been no ability to create investments, which can be re-bundled and sold to investors down the line.”
By doing just this, Joule Assets plans to correct the shortfall in energy efficiency projects by providing access to the necessary financing that will allow small- and medium-size contractors to unlock the potential in the market for energy efficiency work.
Chipotle’s recent SEC filing caused quite a stir. Specifically, one of the risks stated in that filing caused a stir.
The company cited “changes associated with global climate change” as having a potential “significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.” Due to cost increases, Chipotle “may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas.” However, Chipotle spokesperson, Chris Arnold downplays that specific example. “It’s routine financial disclosure,” Arnold told Think Progress. “Nothing more than that.”
Chipotle may or may not have to suspend serving such staples of its menu as guacamole and salsas. However, chances are great that climate change will have an effect on the fast food chain. The filing also mentioned that weather events “such as freezes or drought” could lead to temporary price increases on certain ingredients. The filing goes on to mention drought. “For instance, two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014.”
Extreme, atypical weather continues to take an unusually heavy toll on the U.S. economy and society this winter, patterns consistent with forecasts made by the world’s leading climate scientists. Those same scientists have been urging world leaders to take action and proactively invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives for at least two decades.
When it comes to mitigating climate change, reducing carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is paramount. Here in the U.S. in 2009, a total of nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states joined in launching the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a power sector emissions cap-and-trade market whereby the proceeds of emissions allowance auctions are invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other programs of benefit to consumers.
On March 5, RGGI completed its 23rd auction of CO2 allowances — the first since a new, much lower cap on CO2 emissions from the region’s power plants (those with capacity of 25 MW or more) was set in January. This year’s emissions cap of 91 million tons of CO2 is 45 percent lower than last year’s limit of 165 million.
In an effort by the U.K. Parliament to reach the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 34 percent by 2020, the House of Commons is now looking to the parliamentary estate and considering installing solar panels on the face of Big Ben in London. Parliamentary passholders were submitting ideas for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy efficiency on the estate, when the solar idea was suggested.
Big Ben, officially renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012, was constructed in 1859 and contains 6.9-meter clocks on a 96-meter tower. It is located on the north end of the Palace of Westminster and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, particularly in visual media and the chimes in audio media. It is a popular landmark in the United Kingdom, thus installing solar panels would be an iconic gesture.
Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Alice Korngold: I am President and CEO of Korngold Consulting. Together with members of my team, I assist companies in establishing NGO/nonprofit board-matching programs that help them to achieve their objectives for corporate growth and profits through leadership development, stakeholder engagement and productive NGO/nonprofit partnerships. We also train and place corporate executives on NGO/nonprofit boards of directors based on each individual’s interests and qualifications and the needs of each NGO/nonprofit.
Additionally, we consult to the boards of directors of global, national, and regional NGOs/nonprofits—including addressing board composition, recruitment, and leadership succession planning—to advance NGOs/nonprofits in achieving their greater ambitions and long-term sustainability.
I’ve been working in CSR since 1993, when I founded, built and ran a social enterprise in Cleveland, Ohio to provide CSR advisory services to corporations, in addition to nonprofit board-matching services for over 1,000 corporate executives and board development services to several hundred nonprofits. Our organization also trained and advised leadership programs in other cities, throughout the country, seeking to replicate our nonprofit board-matching model, which was financially self-sustaining through fees for services.
Dr. Paul Brand grew up in South India as the son of British missionary parents. He returned to England to study medicine, then went back to take care of people with leprosy in India, mainly doing reconstructive hand and foot surgery — some 3,000 operations over many years. He also spent some time in Ethiopia doing similar things, and finally ended up as director of the only leprosy hospital in the U.S., located in Carville, La. I believe that hospital closed about 10 years ago, after Dr. Brand retired. He died in 2003.
His son happened to be a student of mine at Louisiana State University (LSU). Medically, he is credited with having established that leprosy is not the direct cause of decay or necrosis of the hands and feet universally observed in people with leprosy. Rather the damage to extremities is self-inflicted, resulting from the loss of sensation and inability to feel pain. Without pain there is no feedback to tell you that you are damaging yourself. Brand developed routines and practices to help avoid self-inflicted injuries, and wrote a book entitled “Pain: the Gift that Nobody Wants.” He also wrote the standard medical textbook on hand and foot surgery.
LSU is a big football school, and an assistant coach invented a super-cushioned helmet that much reduced head pain on impact. This was thought a great thing until Dr. Brand pointed out that head pain was what kept football players from breaking their necks. Would you rather have a headache or a broken neck?
So much for background. I want to focus on a paragraph that Dr. Brand wrote in 1985:
Every Week, TriplePundit takes 30 minutes or so to chat with an interesting leader in the sustainable business movement. These chats are broadcast on our Google+ channel and embedded via YouTube right here on 3p.
What are ecosystem services? Ever thought about putting a price on nature? We learned about Dow’s work with the Natural Capital Hub, a project recently launched by The Nature Conservancy and Corporate EcoForum promoting natural capital, as well as some of the ways the company is working with nature to improve otherwise expensive and possibly toxic processes like water treatment.
If you missed the conversation, you can watch it right here or on our YouTube channel.
San Diego: Apr 24 – Apr 27 Social Venture Network Spring Conference SVN conferences convene and connect influential, innovative business leaders, impact investors and cultural entrepreneurs to create an experience where attendees can share the ideas and resources they need to succeed and grow. Register here.
New York: May 13 – May 14 Shared Value Leadership Summit For business leaders and problem solvers who see exciting market opportunities at the intersection of business goals and societal challenges, the Shared Value Initiative is the leading community shaping research, partnerships, and practices. Register here.
Southern California: May 19 – May 21 Fortune Brainstorm Green As the premier conference on business, sustainability, and green investing, Brainstorm GREEN delivers fresh thinking, actionable solutions, and unparalleled opportunities to build top-level relationships. Register here.
London: May 20 – May 22 2014 Global Sustainability Standards Conference Listen to progressive companies and governments and leaders from Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance, and other influential certifications discuss what brings the whole standards movement together: Trust. Register here.
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