Recession Cuts Emissions: Good News or Bad News?

| Thursday September 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment

stop-making-excuses

The recession has caused a 2.6 percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions – the biggest drop in 40 years, Environmental Leader reports. Although this sounds like great news for the environment, some analysts worry about what effect it could have on nations’ motivation to further curb emissions. Are these figures good news or bad news?

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Walmart Aims To Use Only Renewable Energy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday September 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The mother of all big box retailers, Walmart, made it on the EPA’s National Top 50 Green Power Purchasers list. With a long-term goal of having 100 percent of its power supplied by renewable energy, Walmart is installing solar panels on 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California by 2011. In April, the company finished installing solar panels on 18 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in California and Hawaii. Each solar project will create enough energy to power the equivalent of 2,600 homes.

Walmart does not own its solar projects, but has a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to pay for the energy it uses. BP Solar produces, installs, owns and maintains the solar power systems. Larry Sherwood of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council said PPAs make up most of the large commercial solar energy market.

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Obama Talks To GM Workers

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday September 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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In February GM announced it would lay off 800 workers at its Lordstown assembly plant complex in Warren, Ohio. Last December GM cut the third shift at the plant, eliminating 900 jobs. The summer of 2008 over 4,000 people worked on three shifts at the plant. President Obama spoke to the plant’s workers on Tuesday.

Obama told the workers, “This plant is about to shift into higher gear. 150 of your coworkers came back to work yesterday. More than 1,000 will be coming back to work in less than three weeks as production of the Cobalt ramps up. And next year, this plant will begin production of the Chevy Cruze, a new car that will get more than 40 miles per gallon.”

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Coming Up: 9th Annual Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Conference

| Thursday September 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

LCA-conferenceNext week the 9th annual Life Cycle Analysis Conference will be held in Boston, MA. This year’s conference promises to be the biggest and best one yet. The conference will be packed with incredibly bright industrial ecologists from all over the world. These are the people working on the cutting edge of science to simplify the process of understanding the true impacts our business and consumer decisions have on our planet.

Last year’s LCA conference was a fantastic experience. It completely altered my perception of what I thought was sustainable and revealed interesting hidden impacts of products when you consider them from a life cycle perspective. The results showed that while packaging materials are important, it was far more important to focus on what was INSIDE the packaging. The focus should be reducing impact in that area where possible. (I hear WalMart may be building a new scorecard thanks to this one.)

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Age of Stupid: Environmentalism Is Alive and Well

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 8 Comments
Director and Producer Franny and Lizzie arrive by boat to the NY premier. Seriously.

Director and Producer Franny and Lizzie arrive by boat at the NY premier of their documentary, the Age of Stupid.

Editor’s Note: This post was published on the Huffington Post earlier today.

On Monday night, I participated in the world’s largest movie premier, for a documentary. The film, called the Age of Stupid has been hailed as the future of film, and criticized by 3p’s own Nick Aster for its depressing take on the state of our planet’s climate. I believe, however, that the film was revolutionary for slightly different reasons. Age of Stupid reveals that environmentalism is alive, well, and going mainstream. Even more, the film shows that our current consumer lifestyles are fundamentally incompatible with the reality of our climate situation. Either we convince our governments to intervene and take control, or prepare for the worst, as we waste time celebrating recycling our plastic water bottles.

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Latisse: The Hilarity of FDA Approved Prescription Eyelash Treatment

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 12 Comments
Above, the beautiful Brooke Sheilds. Below, the beautiful Brooke Shields (with longer eyelashes).

Above, the beautiful Brooke Sheilds. Below, the beautiful Brooke Shields (with longer eyelashes).

Aging is such a cruel process. Bones become brittle. Memory fades. Energy wanes. Arteries clog. And yes, our once-lush eyelashes fade away to practically nothing. Thank God for calcium supplements, statins and bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.

Oh, that last one is new to you? Spokeswoman Brooke Shields would love to tell you all about this wonder drug, also known as LATISSE® (and she does, in the online diary she keeps on the Latisse website).  It has made her lashes fuller, darker and longer. And you can enjoy the same results by seeking a prescription from your doctor to buy Latisse, which the FDA approved for use in treating “inadequate” eyelashes in December. (We’re thinking–or rather, hoping–you might have trouble getting insurance to cover this pre-existing condition…)

And if you have glaucoma, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Turns out Latisse is actually a re-branded version of Lumigan, the anti-glaucoma drug made by Allergan, which sells both products (as well as other aesthetic product offerings included Botox and breast implants).  And, as with Lumigan, using Latisse presents some possible side effects, including irritated or dry eyes, red eyelids and darkening of the skin around the eyes. As well as much more menacing ones.

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Nissan Tackles the Silent Electric Car Problem

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 4 Comments

One thing can be said for gas guzzlers — you always hear them coming. Generally speaking, the lower the mpg, the higher the decibels. Which is why electric cars, with a mpg approaching infinity, have a problem: their motors make so little noise you might not hear one coming, and step out in front of it.

Nissan, which plans to sell its all-electric car the Leaf next year in the States, has been experimenting with a “sound system” that creates a noise to warn pedestrians of an approaching car. The system would turn on when the car is started and shut itself off when the car reached 12 miles an hour, at which point the Leaf’s tires make enough noise to be audible.

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eBay Announces First Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target: 15 Percent by 2012

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

ebay-logo

eBay Inc. recently achieved a first among internet companies: it was the first such company to disclose greenhouse gas figures in 2009 to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an S&P 500 Report-affiliated ranking of corporations’ sustainability efforts. (The disclosure was also the first of its kind eBay has made.) What does the move suggest about eBay’s evolution as a company, and its potential impact on the world of green internet commerce?

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Better Place, Renault: Let a 100,000 Electric Cars Bloom

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

shai-agassiBetter Place, the ambitious San Francisco electric vehicle service company, has teamed up with French car company Renault to bring 100,000 electric cars, and the network to charge them, to the streets of Israel and Denmark by 2016.

Better Place will build a network of electric charging stations, including high-voltage quick charge terminals and its patented battery-swapping hubs. Renault, in turn, will install Better Place electric vehicle support software AutOS in the Fluence ZE, an electric car it plans to introduce in the two postage-stamp sized countries, and 18 others, in 2011.

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Obama’s UN Climate Summit has Some Sustainability Proponents Worried

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

UN-planet-picture

Several world leaders met in New York Tuesday for a UN climate summit in New York. While many of the leaders indicated that they would continue to work together on an international climate pact, others expressed visions for climate change that have some analysts concerned. One of these was President Obama.

According to a Washington Post report, Obama emphasized steps the U.S. has already taken to reduce its carbon footprint, including investing in clean energy, setting new fuel economy standards, and *cough* (Obama’s) pressing the House for passage of a cap-and-trade emissions regulation system.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, too, promised to make trimming carbon emissions a national priority by implementing a number of domestic measures.

While these measures would be better than nothing, some would argue that Obama’s and Jintao’s speeches signaled a divergence from the ideal climate solution: a pact in which nations would cut greenhouse gas emissions, in compliance with an international legal treaty. Now, it appears some nations are taking a team-of-one approach, with which some in attendance expressed concern. For example, Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama stipulated that Japan would trim emissions on the condition that other industrial powers make CO2-trimming commitments. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on industrial leaders to strike a deal by the UN Climate Change Conference in December. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged governments to look beyond their own national interests and make uncomfortable compromises to guarantee a climate deal by the end of 2009.

What do you think – should we be concerned about some nations’ apparent movement toward an individualistic approach to global climate change?

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Global Burning? How the Words We Choose Affect the Perception of Crises

Richard Levangie | Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Would we be doing more to save the planet from global warming if we had better phrasing? Jonathan Watts asks that question at The Guardian when he notes that the only time that governments have been able to overcome their pettiness was when scientists warned about an unexpected “hole in the ozone layer.”

It seemed to have a profound and galvanizing effect, and the level of intergovernmental cooperation that ensued was unprecedented.

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Is a National Soda Tax On the Horizon?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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President Obama said a soda tax is “an idea we should be exploring,” in an interview with Men’s Health. He added, “There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else. Obviously it’s not the only factor, but it is a major factor.”

It will be a fight to obtain a soda tax. As Grist points out in a recent article, there is not even one congressional bill about a soda tax. However, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent called a soda tax “outrageous.” Kent also said, “I have never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink. If it worked, the Soviet Union would still be around.”

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Have a Branded Sweet & Solar Wedding

| Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

SunCrystals

Share your special day with 19 other couples and an “all-natural, low-calorie sweetener.” In a somewhat misguided brand launch, SUN CRYSTALS® is sponsoring a solar-powered New York City wedding for 20 lucky couples.

How is marriage related to sweetener or to the environment? Because it’s the “first all-natural, low-calorie sweetener that marries stevia and sugar cane, two plants nourished by the sun.” Yeah, that’s a stretch.

The SUN CRYSTALS® Brand is a member of 1% For The Planet®, donating 1% of sales to the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). And from what it says, the product seems natural-ish. But branded weddings? How low have we stooped as a society? What’s next, sponsored births and funerals?

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Olive Oil and Water: A Greener Mix is Needed

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

olive-oilIt’s easy to sing the praises of olive oil, especially if you’re, ahem, Italian. Olive oil’s many benefits and uses for healthy cooking and eating are well chronicled and it’s become a major industry worldwide, from California’s Napa Valley to Syria.

In addition to the obvious health and nutrition benefits of olive oil from a fat and cholesterol perspective, olive pits can be turned into ethanol; you can shine your guitar with it and even shave with it. Don’t however shave your guitar with it.

That growth is also becoming a concern from an environmental, carbon-neutral farming and wastewater pollution standpoint.

Mass production, especially in the Mediterranean region were olive trees have been cultivated for more than 7,000 years, is adding to pollution, according to Arab Environment Watch and IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis project of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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PG&E Quits US Chamber, Protesting Its Climate Change Stance

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday September 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

pg_ePeter Darbee, chairman and CEO of California utility Pacific Gas & Electric, on Tuesday took a very public stand against the US Chamber of Commerce and what he calls its “disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort” the facts around global climate change.

The utility quit the Chamber, a lobbying group that represents three million businesses and has called for the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a public hearing in order to debate whether climate change is a result of human activity–part of its attempts to oppose federal emissions regulations.

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