In about six weeks, composting will be more than just typical in San Francisco; it will be mandated by law as well. Under a new law, the city’s residents and businesses must compost all food scraps or risk paying fines. But according to a recent SF Gate article, although the law has yet to be implemented, San Franciscans are already rising to the challenge, composting 15 percent more material than they did just a few months ago.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
Good news from the world of (at least increasingly) sustainable business growth: AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA NCNU) is expanding, and expanding (at least partially) sustainably. The company recently partnered with IBM to design and build AAA NCNU’s new energy efficient data center, in keeping with AAA’s technology requirements.Click to continue reading »
The BBC recently reported good news for the typically strained environmental relations between the U.S. and China. Although the two countries are among the world’s top polluters, and although each seems to expect concessions the other isn’t willing to give (in terms of greenhouse gas legislation), a U.S. energy firm and China recently signed a huge solar power deal. Could the deal signal the turning over of a new leaf in the countries’ approaches to climate change?Click to continue reading »
Answer: a lot.
According to the Energy Information Agency, the planet uses 500 quadrillion btus of energy every year, and that number is expected to rise to 678 quadrillion in twenty years. Starting with those figures, and then a lot of back-of-an-envelope math, Land Art Generator Initiative has mapped the surface area required to provide the entire planet’s energy from the sun in 2030. They also did one for off-shore wind generation.
The end calculation was 191,817 square miles (496,805 square km) of land for solar panels, spread around the world. For wind it comes to 11,748,294 5 MW capacity turbines covering 5874147 square miles off-shore.
More Silly Math
The problem with these sorts of rough estimates is just how rough they are. As numerous comments point out, Land Art’s figures do not take into account power loss through transmission, or other inefficiencies. One way to check their math is to look at actual projects on the ground and see how they measure up to the figures being bandied about.Click to continue reading »
A recent article in Time magazine touted the need for sustainable agriculture. Calling the American food system “energy intensive,” the article predicted that “our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later.” The article also cited the consequences if American agriculture does not become sustainable: eroded farmland, antibiotic-resistant germs, and increasing health costs.
Another weekly news magazine, U.S. News & World Report, recently contained an article about sustainable agriculture. The article mentioned a study by the Technische Universitaet Muenchen which created a “new indicator model” to assess the sustainability of farms. Professor Kurt-Juergen Huelsbergen from the Organic Farming and Crop Production Systems at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen said that farmers who want to practice sustainable agriculture “need a solid basis for their decision-making.”Click to continue reading »
Leave it to the Scots to find ways to get energy out of whiskey.
If you like your whiskey neat or even if you don’t this is pretty neat — Helius Energy Plc and the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) formed a joint venture known as Helius CoRDe, which will build and operate a biomass energy plant using whiskey distillery by-products.
The proposed £50 million ($82.7 million) project would reduce the carbon footprint of the whiskey industry on the Scottish island of Speyside.
The plant will use whiskey distillery by-products to fuel a 7.2-megawatt GreenSwitch biomass combined heat and power plant (CHP) and a GreenFields plant that will turn the liquid co-product of whiskey production, known as Pot Ale, into a concentrated organic fertilizer and an animal feed for use by local farmers.
Helius CoRDe will be responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the new plant. The project could save more than 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year when compared to CoRD’s current energy use, the distillers say.Click to continue reading »
Underlying the general excitement of 700,000 fans that populate the two-week 2009 US Open – Elite Athlete Eye Candy! Unseeded Player Dreams! Open Seating Options! – is the USTA’s ongoing, long-term commitment to greening its enterprise.
What’s the sweet spot? According to Rita Garza, Senior Director of Corporate Relations, USTA, “Outdoor tennis and a concern for the environment is a natural fit. We’re just making the connection.” 2009 marks year two of the center-wide greening initiative and the USTA’s operational strategy takes a strong external and internal approach in an number of obvious and behind the scenes ways.
Walking through grounds of the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – the world’s largest outdoor tennis facility – it’s hard to miss the 500 blue recycling bins, one to partner with each conventional garbage can around the 42-acre campus.Click to continue reading »
With the failures of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), as evidenced by ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, pressure is building for mining and jewelry companies to become transparent, accountable, and fair. But will the new certification systems be credible?
At this year’s Fair Trade Diamond Conference in Las Vegas, discussion of competing certification systems was rigorous. At one table sat a representative from the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC); at another sat a representative from the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). Both organizations are establishing vital new standards for socially responsible—or in ARM’s case Fair Trade—gems and precious metals. But their divergent approaches highlight the importance of involving local stakeholders in creating standards that are effective and credible.
RJC, a participant in the United Nations Global Compact initiative, has nearly completed its standards for certification of large-scale mining operations and is seeking input from civil society mining organizations that promote social and environmental justice. RJC standards would require sensible practices like protecting ecosystem biodiversity and ensuring that “the interests and development aspirations of affected communities are considered.”Click to continue reading »
Congress’ debate over health care reform could slow the passage of climate legislation, since, practically speaking, lawmakers must choose one battle over the other for now. This lag could potentially jeopardize the success of December’s UN Climate Change Conference, the Wall Street Journal reports.
President Obama will plead his case on health care to Congress this week. Accordingly, Majority Leader (Democrat) Harry Reid has pushed deciding on the climate bill to the end of this year – a deadline that will allow Democrats to determine whether they have enough political strength left over from the health care battle to fight for the climate bill’s passage. The deadline could be pushed back even further if the health care debate drags on into the 2010 congressional midterm elections.Click to continue reading »
I’m sure the Internet has its fair share of wackos trying to prove that global warming is not human-made nor dangerous. But I’m going to focus on this one, because he’s just so adorable.
His reasoning: Plants Need Co2. Therefore, how could CO2 be a pollutant? In fact, he’s so emphatic about this that he named his organization just that: “Plants Need CO2”
The mission of this 501(c)(3) nonprofit? “To educate the public on the positive effects of additional atmospheric CO2 and help prevent the inadvertent negative impact to human, plant and animal life if we reduce CO2.”
Yes, we all learned in 3rd grade biology that plants breathe in CO2. This does not mean that it’s not a pollutant.Click to continue reading »
Like millions of other Mac owners I dutifully plonked down $29 for the new Snow Leopard operating system last week. It’s a nice improvement and well worth the price. But, why in the modern world I am required to send for a physical DVD to make my installation possible has left me somewhat dumbfounded. To make matters even more hilarious, Apple sent me a cardboard box 15.6 times the size of the DVD case contained within (I did the math).
With all of Apple’s green claims, this just doesn’t compute.
They could have popped the DVD into a NetFlix style envelope, saved massively on shipping and handling and made me feel less like a wasteful chump. For that matter, the whole thing should have been downloadable.
Why, dear Apple, why?
“There’s no alternative to sustainable development” begins the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation.” Sustainability and green initiatives are no longer optional contend the article’s authors — Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad and M.R. Rangaswami. Not only is the business case getting stronger, but embracing a sustainability agenda can stimulate innovation, pushing companies to rethink their operations, products and business models.
The authors studied the sustainability initiatives of 30 large companies and discovered what they describe as a “mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns.” From their research, they’ve developed five distinct stages of change that transforms a company from sustainability laggard to leader. Each stage has its challenges, required competencies and abundant opportunities as the authors illustrate through case study examples.Click to continue reading »
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The blogosphere’s been a-buzz the past few days about Disney’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Marvel, but there hasn’t been much press about the million dollars in donations they’re planning as part of their “Friends for Change” initiative. In fact, though I hesitate to admit this publicly, if I hadn’t gotten sucked into The Jonas Brothers marathon on the Disney channel over the long weekend, I wouldn’t even have known about it. Granted, I’m not their target audience, but after digging deeper, it’s actually a worthwhile program that makes effective use of popular icons like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers in making kids and teens aware of the important issues facing our planet in a memorable way.