Blog Action Day Today: Tackling Climate Change

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 18 Comments

Blog Action Day As BlogWorld kicks off in Las Vegas later today, the folks over at change.org, in partnership with several other prominent organizations such as Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF, launched Blog Action Day.

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.

This year’s focus is on the growing concern over climate change. As of this morning, 8,922 blogs are participating—including 3p—representing 148 countries, and a combined readership of over 12.5 million people.

To find out more, go to Blogactionday.org.

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Climate Scientists: “Inaction Is Inexcusable”

Richard Levangie | Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Global warming deniers often suggest that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report is a political document, and they’re partially right — but not in the way that they might think. The report is conservative by nature, relying on studies that were largely published before 2005, and the picture it paints is far rosier than it should be.

Over the last five years, study after peer-reviewed study has suggested that the Fourth Assessment Report is already out-of-date, and global warming is barreling along.

So it’s worthwhile to reconsider the science on this, Blog Action Day. Luckily for me, I don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Leading experts have made good on a promise to update the climate change science in advance of Copenhagen, and they’re telling politicians that humanity is risking “abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts” from the accelerating pace of global warming. Rising global surface and ocean temperatures, surging sea levels, extreme weather events, and the retreat of Arctic sea ice* are all coming harder and faster than research suggested five or 10 years ago. The takeaway message is that politicians had better find a way to work together at the next international climate summit in December — or shortly after — or the results will be devastating.

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Maldives Underwater Meeting Catches Media Attention

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

road-to-copenhagen

Few people appear better positioned for Blog Action Day 2009 than Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed – and it’s been a busy year since he took office. Faced with growing threats of sea level rise, President Nasheed has made some bold claims since his election last November.

From his statement earlier this year that his government would set aside some of the $1 billion a year it earns from the travel and tourism industry to buy land to relocate his people, to his announcment last week that he will hold the first ever cabinet meeting underwater, President Nasheed is proving to be both bold and media savvy.

Obviously the Maldives and other small-island countries have a lot at stake in terms of climate change, and gimmick or not, the underwater meeting has garnered global media attention and it has put this country of less than 400,000 people front and center of the climate change conversation.

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Kiwis Planting the Seeds for Curbing Agricultural Emissions

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

New Zealand may not jump to mind as a guiding force in mitigating climate change, but if it can lead the charge to boost agricultural efficiencies, this island nation may just emerge as an important player.

Tim Groser, New Zealand minister of trade and associate minister for climate-change issues, wrote for the Wall Street Journal last week that last month New Zealand Prime Minister John Key proposed that countries form an alliance to address the role of agriculture in climate change, in order coordinate efforts and commit more investment and political will toward research and new technologies and practices to boost agricultural efficiencies. Groser called the response to this proposal “overwhelmingly positive” and says the US, India, Australia and the Netherlands have expressed interest in joining such as effort.

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George Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Clean Tech and Fund Climate Policy Initiative

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

sorosI dreamt last night that Google had decided to pull out of its cleantech investments. Don’t ask.

Anyway, imagine my relief this morning when I woke up to discover that not only was Google still in the game (despite some frustrations), but George Soros, another liberal-minded fountain of money, plans to invest $1 billion in clean technology and related sectors. The Hungarian-born investor made the announcement during a speech in Copenhagen October 10th.

In honor of Blog Action Day’s climate change theme, we salute you, George Soros. And your money, too.

A Million, A Billion — Whatever.

Soros, who made his fortune manipulating currency markets, will also donate $10 million a year for a decade to fund the newly created Climate Policy Initiative, which will be officially launched in Berlin next month.

Whether the world needs another climate policy organization is debatable. But then you can’t call yourself hip these days in certain circles without a Tesla and an initiative of some sort. Soros said the Climate Policy Initiative, which will be based in San Francisco, will “protect the public interest against special interests.” 

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Suppressed Bush White House Climate Change Doc Finally Released

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

paper-docsIn honor of this year’s Blog Action Day theme — climate change — Triple Pundit would like to offer the following pundification: “Presidents come and go, but the science remains the same.”

A 2007 EPA report on global warming, suppressed by the Bush administration, was finally released under the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday. The EPA “endangerment finding” (PDF), which warned the US must act to regulate greenhouse gases, or face catastrophic environmental damage, is in large part identical — in parts word-for-word — to the Obama administration’s own draft finding, made in April of this year.

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U.S. Energy Secretary Orders Burying of Coal-Produced CO2 – What Are the Implications?

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 5 Comments

carbon-recaptureU.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Monday that a technology for burying coal-produced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be ready for deployment by 2017, Reuters reports. This is good news for the environment (given the fact that coal accounts for 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions) and, hopefully, for the world’s climate change rate (given the fact that the U.S. is one of the world’s two biggest GHG emitters). Yet the news is somewhat perplexing: while Obama has stated a desire for taking proactive measures against climate change, his administration has yet to act definitively on the issue (i.e. by passing comprehensive climate legislation). What does Chu’s proclamation say about the administration’s environmental priorities?

One could argue that Chu’s proclamation is an attempt by the administration to appear proactive on solving environmental problems. (One could argue the same for Obama’s recent declaration that October is National Energy Awareness Month.) After all, as the Copenhagen Climate Conference quickly approaches – and legislators drag their feet on passing a climate bill – the world is watching America….

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100 Places to Remember

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment


Okavango Delta, Botswana - 2004There are rising CO2 ppm numbers, warming and increasingly acidic oceans, shifting species populations, shrinking arctic sea-ice cover and volume… all manner of facts, figures, and data-crunching computer models to aid scientists in understanding the nature and consequences of climate disruption.

But there’s a more visceral aspect to global warming.

A feeling summoned even in the most cynical soul by a world still full of beauty and wonder, it is a strained thread that connects each human to the Earth and belies the competing economic models, political affiliations, and tribal xenophobias that have plagued humanity throughout time. But our time is different, and the consequences of our actions so enormous that we must be reminded what binds us together in a common global fate.

It is for that connection to the Earth we each share, for better or worse, that inspired Søren Rud to organize  100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear, a photo exhibition recently opened in Copenhagen. Meant as an inspiration for “the common person,” 100 Places is also a call to action for world leaders as they soon converge on the city to negotiate a climate treaty at the COP15 Climate Conference this December (and what inspires this post on Blog Action Day).

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Are We Closer To Passing Climate Change Legislation?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 3 Comments

250px-Grand_Junction_Trip_92007_098

Today is Blog Action Day and the theme is climate change. The Congress has yet to pass climate change legislation. The biggest obstacles to passing legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the Republicans in Congress who are largely opposed to mandatory caps on emissions. It may be possible, however, to pass the legislation.

A New York Times op-ed piece last Sunday proves that both sides of the political aisle can come together about climate change. Written by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the op-ed piece declared, “We refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change.” Kerry and Graham wrote that they are “convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress.”

The op-ed piece listed five proposals concerning climate legislation:

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Buying Time: Cutting Non-CO2 Pollutants Will Slow Climate Change

Richard Levangie | Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 3 Comments


Biochar

Climate change isn’t only about carbon dioxide. So that’s why, in a world that is stepping close to a steep precipice, doing more to reduce non-CO2 climate change contributors such as black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as well as expanding bio-sequestration through biochar production, might  head global warming off at the pass, according to Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Molina and co-authors in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The authors argue that this novel perspective could transform the debate at United Nations climate change conference slated for Copenhagen in December.

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“Average American” Near Extinction

| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

CleaversApple pie, Mom, the 4th of July. Those symbols are still with us, but the homogeneous, stereotypically “American” lifestyle they evoke — a white non-Hispanic nuclear family of a married couple and their two kids — is receding further and further into the past. Next year’s census, a new white paper from Ad Age predicts, will hammer the final nail in the coffin of the typical American — and thus the typical American consumer — for good.

The demographic change, which began decades ago, means companies and advertisers looking to reach consumers will have to continue to hone their pitch to the niches, or create campaigns with truly broad appeal, or — most likely — bot

For the Triple Bottom Line, the change could be a positive one: widely successful companies will have to be seen as fully tolerant, not merely of racial and ethnic differences, but lifestyle choices. A radically diverse market also gives more power to branding that cuts across demographic lines — like environmentally friendly products.

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HVAC Industry Proposes Regional Efficiency Standards

| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hvac-productsA group of U.S. HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) manufacturers signed a deal Tuesday designed to improve regional efficiency standards and building codes throughout the country. The proposed standards are also aimed at balancing the desire for greater state and regional flexibility with the need for a uniform HVAC marketplace, and stabilizing the HVAC marketplace. The participating manufacturers see the standards’ implementation as a way to protect the environment and economy while promoting greater global investment and job security.

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Scaling Back En Route to Copenhagen

| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

road-to-copenhagen

meetingmgmt

About 53 days until COP15, and the word compromise is surfacing more and more in discussions around reaching an agreement in December. There is also worry that the U.S. will not have passed any sort of significant climate bill by then, thus hampering their ability to make any real CO2 emissions pledge.

In a joint report written by the Center for American Progress and the United Nations Foundation,  a more manageable set of expectations is recommended to make important strides for talks to move forward – and this includes shelving the idea that developed nations will commit to binding emission target reductions.

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How A Sustainability “Change Agent” Workshop Works

| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

change-agent-300x225By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Ever since I studied adaptive leadership with Ronald Heifetz at Harvard, I have been interested in the intersection between organizational change, systems theory and sustainability issues.  Many sustainability professionals seem to lack an understanding of what it takes to create enduring, lasting change within an organization or system. As illustrated with the recent departure of Van Jones from the White House, a change agent needs a strategic understanding of how to navigate the dangers of leading change without getting scapegoated or sidelined.

I recently learned that Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) is offering a two-day Sustainability Change Agent Training with Alan AtKisson, November 16th and 17th. I’m excited that I will have the chance to attend (I will be attending to cover the event for Triple Pundit).

I realize many of us have “workshop-itis” these days after attending a few too many workshops and conferences.  But I feel this topic has not been well covered at past green trainings. And Sustainable Silicon Valley is offering Triple Pundit readers a discount of $100 off the registration fee (applies only to SSV partner and non-partner rates). Go to the registration page and use the code “triplepundit” when registering.

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New Study Says U.S. Leads World in Geothermal Energy Production

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

180px-Krafla_Geothermal_Station

The U.S. leads the world in online geothermal energy capacity and is one of the main countries that will increase its capacity, according to a report by the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association. California and Nevada are the leading states in developing geothermal energy, and make up almost 97 percent of currently active geothermal power capacity. Their nearest competitor is Utah, and they outpace it 65-fold.

The combined confirmed and unconfirmed capacity under development in Nevada could end up being 3,373.4 megawatts (MW), or 7.5 times its current capacity. California has up to 2,435.8 MW in development. Geothermal continues to be concentrated in California, and in 2005, California’s geothermal capacity exceeded that of every country.

As of last month, geothermal power was being generated in eight states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Other states are soon to be added, including Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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