The Story of Cap & Trade (Discussion Follows)

| Tuesday December 1st, 2009 | 12 Comments


They’re at it again – the creative team who brought you the wildly popular Story of Stuff are following up with “The Story of Cap and Trade: Why You Can’t Solve a Problem With the Thinking That Created It.”

Building on the momentum of The Story of Stuff (over 8 million views to date) Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios have teamed up with Climate Justice Now! and the Durban Group for Climate Justice to bring what is to be the first of six short films in the coming year.

Many prominent scientists, politicians and business interests have been on opposing ends of the cap and trade discussion for a long time. Leonard acknowledges that some very smart people (some of them her friends) support cap and trade, but she isn’t convinced. (Watch the video above)

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Shell’s Gamesmanship: Governments Should Intervene in Carbon Markets

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday December 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

shellExpecting a full-blown global carbon trading market to emerge without the influence, intervention – or perhaps interference – of world governments is probably not possible and Shell’s new CEO is acknowledging this.

Peter Voser told The Guardian and its Environment Network, BusinessGreen, that regional markets alone cannot set the price of pollution and that action should be taken at the governmental level to make costly green projects, such as carbon capture and storage, economically viable.

The idea of a carbon tax is gaining some support from politicians in the UK and France as the Copenhagen summit on climate change begins Monday.

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Studies Measure Climate Change’s Impact on Public Health

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday December 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

Just in time for the opening of the United National Climate Change conference in Copenhagen next week, the London-based medical journal The Lancet has published the findings of a number of studies that examine the links between climate change and public health.

There are six separate reports in the series. They explore the public health benefits linked to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in a number of areas, including sources of energy within residences, urban land transport, low-carbon power generation, and food and agriculture.

As a whole, the studies make a case for health professionals to become advocates for mitigating climate change and for “aligning climate change and public health policies.”

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Re-Thinking Environmental Advocacy for the 21st-Century

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

leading-arrowBy Martin Melaver

In my circles, there’s an old Jewish joke that defines the beginning of life as the point in time when the dog dies and the kids go off to school. I’d like to add my own personal twist: when you step down as chairman of the board of an environmental advocacy group, which for me happens this week.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed my time with the Georgia Conservancy, an old-time organization, forty-plus years old, that has served the state well over the decades. But managing this organization makes running a business seem like child’s play.

Bring to the table disparate stakeholders from various big businesses and you bring down the ire of other environmental groups all claiming you’ve sold out. Cobble together a coalition of environmental groups advocating on behalf of alternative energy or water-conservation efforts and big business interests vilify you as being too strident and unable to work with. Collaborate with various state agencies and you have both the environmental and business communities jumping down your throat. I used to believe that if an environmental group is doing its principled best, it’s got everyone a bit pissed-off with it. But surely there’s a more effective model.

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Business Not As Usual: FTC Proposes Multi-Attribute Label For Light Bulbs, CFL’s First

John Laumer | Monday November 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Lighting Facts Label proposal example from FTC

  1. After a lengthy hiatus from its early 1980’s guideline on green product declarations and advertising, the US Federal Trade Commission [now] Proposes CFL Labels For Light Output, Color, Mercury, & More.  The FTC’s draft proposed rule, should it become final close to its present form (see above example for one of the possible label layouts), is likely to set a precedent affecting other consumer product sectors and, eventually, make third party verifications of environmental claims a standard procedure. Business significance: U2/C5
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Is Bottled Water a Dead Man Walking?

Matthew Savage | Monday November 30th, 2009 | 16 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!
bottled-waterAt the 2009 Net Impact Conference, Adam Werbach called Fiji Water a “Dead Man Walking,” stating that the company has greenwashed its brand and that it was only a matter of time before its actions caught up with the company (read a NY times article on Fiji here). While Werbach was referring to the way that Fiji Water was portraying its brand, he also broadly implied that the business of shipping water around the world is simply unsustainable. This brought up a lot of questions about the “health” of the bottled water industry in general.

The environmental arguments against bottled water are gaining more traction, and people are starting to question whether bottled water is really worth it, financially and environmentally. Recent sales reflect a drop in consumer demand for bottled water — Nestlé SA, the world’s largest food and beverage group, reported a three percent drop in its first-half profit last August, according to MarketWatch. In past years, Nestlé was growing in the double digits, as were most bottled water companies.

Overall, the bottled water industry in the United States has expanded at a phenomenal rate, though the market dipped slightly last year. According to data from Beverage Marketing, a U.S.-based data and consulting firm, retail sales of single-serving plastic bottles increased from 1.4 billion gallons in 2000 to 5.2 billion gallons last year, lifting their share of total bottled water volume from 29 percent to more than 60 percent. And, over the past decade, per-capita consumption of bottled water in the U.S. has more than doubled to about 200 bottles per year, per person, according to MarketWatch.

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Careers in Wind Farm Development: Wind Energy Analyst

Sarah Lozanova | Monday November 30th, 2009 | 3 Comments

This is the third article in a seven part series on careers in wind farm development. The first, second, and third parts can be viewed here.

windographer softwareMeteorological towers provide a large quantity of raw data, which needs to be analyzed to assess the wind resources of a site. Desired information is frequently extrapolated from a data set, often with help from software including Windagrapher, WindFarmer, WindPRO, or Excel. This information then provides vital information for determining the financial viability of a potential wind farm.

“Towers over 60 meters in height require a special permit from the Federal Aviation Administration, so wind energy is normally assessed between 50 and 60 meters,” says Diane Reinebach, Senior Energy Specialist for RMT, Inc. “That data is then extrapolated up to 80 meters, which is the hub height of a wind turbine.”

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Travelocity Offers Free Carbon Offsets for the Holidays

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday November 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Planning on travelling this holiday season?  Travelocity, the online travel agency, is serious about sustainable travel that will benefit both traveler and Mother Earth, one mile at a time.

In an effort to “embrace travel as an agent of positive change,” the online travel company offers several ways for travelers to travel more responsibly.

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The Secret Solar $auce

Bill Roth | Monday November 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Secret Green Sauce“The idea of building a business selling sustainability without having a clearly articulated price competitiveness strategy is a recipe for failure.” That sentence from The Secret Green Sauce is “best practices #1” being used by companies that are making money going green. And it is issue number one for the solar industry.

The good news is that today solar panels for rooftop systems cost half as much than a couple of years ago and are now averaging $2.50 per watt. These costs are projected to decline as the industry continues to reduce manufacturing costs. First Solar claims below $1 per watt manufacturing costs and several manufacturers claim near-term paths toward 60 cents per watt. A California roof top solar system costing $1 per watt panels with 20% panel efficiency and a $2 per watt balance of plant costs according to my estimates will generate approximately 13 cents per kWh electricity in California or about 1/3 the price charged by utilities through their newly installed smart meters during the pricey summer hours of the year. In addition the utility scale solar thermal developers claim the potential to be at grid price parity plus the ability to dispatch their energy to track demand. So solar appears to have a path toward price competitiveness without subsidies.

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End of the Beginning: Cleantech Group Offers Ten Predictions for 2010

| Monday November 30th, 2009 | 4 Comments

CleantechGroupLogo-RGBlargeJPG320x320The Cleantech Group, the guys who literally invented the word “cleantech” (and own the trademark — so watch out) today released “Ten Predictions for 2010: Trends to Watch For in Global Cleantech in the Year Ahead,” the investment information hub’s annual list of predictions for the future of clean technology.

It’s actually a pretty juicy read.

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3p Bound for Helsinki: Five Fast Facts About Finland

| Sunday November 29th, 2009 | 11 Comments

xmas-finland-reindeer-40348Quick quiz: name five things about Finland.

I’ll go first: reindeer, vodka, snow, Nokia,  and … saunas.

Pretty sad, right? For a bunch of world travelers we should know better. Luckily there is a group who is setting out to change all that. Finnfacts, the country’s PR agency, has invited Triple Pundit and friends from:

Sustainablog, Clean Techies, Clean Tech Blog, Green Dig, Leo DiCaprio’s blog, Mother Nature Network and German blog on a tour of some of the country’s hottest clean tech companies and coldest national parks. Finnfacts is kind enough to foot the bill because they know bloggers are not known for their deep pockets.  Sold!

We head off on Monday. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been doing my research. Yes, some of this time was spent doing experiential research in the sauna with a Finlandia on ice, but I also did some good old fashioned reading. Did you know:

If you have any fun facts to add, or questions for us to ask, leave them in the comments!

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Copenhagen: Why Bother?

| Friday November 27th, 2009 | 4 Comments

The world gets from COP15 what it puts into itWith little more than a week to go before the start of the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, the “Road to Copenhagen” starts to sound a little tired, even as participants prepare for actually heading to Copenhagen.

With the roller-coaster-like ride of pre-COP15 news, reeling from despair to faint glimmers of hope* that something positive and substantial will emerge from Copenhagen in mid-December, the question for many concerned about climate change, or who are considering going to COP15, is:

If Copenhagen is just another step in the long process from Kyoto to Bali to Copenhagen to… why bother?

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SolarClover: Simple and Affordable DIY Residential Rooftop Solar Energy System

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday November 27th, 2009 | 7 Comments


solarcloverOne of the greatest barriers of entry for residential solar power systems has been the high cost of installation. And for some, another turn-off is the aesthetic of conventional rooftop panels.  The SolarClover residential rooftop solar energy system, from Armageddon Energy, has been designed to address both issues.  SolarClover is a uniquely-shaped solar panel system with a simple installation process that most homeowners will be able to manage largely on their own, thereby saving on installation fees.

The SolarClover system is expected to be released sometime in 2010.

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Buy Nothing Day: The High Cost of a Bargain

3p Contributor | Friday November 27th, 2009 | 2 Comments

gordon_laird_price_of_a_bargainThis excerpt from The Price of a Bargain by Canadian journalist Gordon Laird is presented in honor of Buy Nothing Day. Happy anti shopping!

For better and for worse, ours is the age of the bargaineers – the engineers of bargains – whose factories extend from rice paddies to suburban basements everywhere. Each year we are drawn to their doors by the millions. And if it’s not Wal-Mart that reels us in, then it’s its big-box brethren – Costco, Home Depot, Best Buy, Ikea, Tesco – or smaller fish like the local dollar store. There are never single, isolated bargains. Most of us stalk value on a serial basis, sometimes in full contravention of common sense. Row upon row, aisle upon aisle, this realm of affordability, selection, and discount is a dominant force in today’s world.

From family-owned discount stores to the world’s largest company, it’s all there: your next iPod, laptop, snack food, and the stuffed animal you take to a sick relative in hospital. This is you, even before you know it. And all of it is priced to sell. Nearly everything from clothing to electronics has miraculously decreased in price since the early 1990s. And if you’re not getting it cheaper, then you’ve probably gained on quantity or quality, the outcome of a global economy that’s been on rollback for the past two decades.

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The Monopoly Named Monsanto

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday November 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment

roundup-monsantoMonsanto is the largest seed company in the world. It controls 95 percent of the market for insect and herbicide resistant cotton traits. In 2008, Monsanto had shares of up to 65 percent for traited corn and soybeans and about 45 percent for traited corn. During the late 1990s and through the 2000s, Monsanto acquired almost 40 companies “creating the horizontal and vertical integration that underlies the firm’s platforms in cotton, corn, and soybeans,” according to a whitepaper by American Antitrust Institute’s vice president and senior fellow, Diana Moss. Most of the acquisitions were seed companies.

The whitepaper cites a report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), which noted that Monsanto’s U.S. patents for Roundup Ready soybean seeds give it power over the seed market. It also points out that during the years 2002 to 2009 there were almost 60 patent infringement and antitrust court cases in federal district and appeals court. Almost 55 percent involve Monsanto as the plaintiff, and 20 percent as the defendant. This amounts to three-quarters of all the cases. “The lack of competition and innovation in the marketplace has reduced farmers’ choices and enabled Monsanto to raise prices unencumbered,” said Keith Mudd from the Organization for Competitive Markets, after Monsanto decided to raise some GM maize seed prices by 35 percent.

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