Mountaintop Coal Removal = Bad Math!

Gregory Wendt, CFP | Thursday July 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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It is has been widely recognized by thinking people around the nation that Mountain Top Removal mining for dirty coal is bad.
Scott Badenoch, CEO and Co-Founder of Creative Citizen recently wrote in his article for MNN:

“Mr. President, it is your duty as a citizen of this planet to put an immediate and irrevocable moratorium on Mountaintop Removal today. Go to Appalachia and see for yourself. There is no time to waste; there is no compromise. Human lives and nature’s mountains are at stake.”

It’s mysterious that our own Obama administration continues to look the other way. Then again, perhaps it is creating JOBS and making MONEY for the coal industry.
Hmmm… money, jobs. Hot commodities in this beleaguered economy, right?
Well how much money?

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The Ripple Effect: Seeding Innovation in Securing and Transporting Clean Water

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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ripple effectIn so many parts of the world, attaining and transporting clean water for drinking and cooking takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort. In fact, an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide lack easy access to clean water. And even those who can get to a source of clean water, oftentimes end up with contaminated water by the time they transport it home in various types of vessels.
It obviously just shouldn’t be that way… so global design consultancy IDEO decided to join forces with the Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that invests in entrepreneurs to solve the problems of global poverty, in order to find suitable solutions for clean water portability in the developing world. The effort is called The Ripple Effect. (The project will be one many innovative projects discussed on the second day of the Social Capital MarketsSOCAP09 conference in September.)
So far, the collaborative has completed the first half of the project in India. The second half, focusing on East Africa, is now underway. Funding for the project came through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The approach is to work with local organizations that are already providing community water–some of these groups are businesses, some are NGOs. Our goal is to innovate in the sector as a whole by improving access [to clean water and transport] through collaborative design,” explains Sally Madsen, an IDEO designer working on the project.

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How Organic Farms Are Shortchanged

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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The consumer demand for organic food has increased, according to a report released last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sales of organic food more than quintupled, increasing from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $18.9 billion in 2007. In 2006 alone the U.S. organic industry grew 21 percent in sales. Over two-thirds of consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28 percent of consumers buy organic weekly.
The USDA report states that the “fast-paced growth” of the demand for organic food “has led to input and product shortages in organic supply chains.” The report cited a 2004 survey that found 44 percent of organic handlers had a shortage of needed ingredients or products, and 13 percent were not able to meet the market demand for at least one organic product in 2004.

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G8 Urges Economic Stability Measures, Fails to Pass Climate Bill

| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment


Today in L’Aquila, Italy, the Group of 8 (G8) Summit failed to pass unanimously a climate bill which would have mandated halving of global CO2 emissions by 2050 as part of the Group’s larger economic-stabilization plan. The Group – consisting of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, and Russia – believed passage of the bill would likely have broken the deadlock over sharing of the burden of cutting greenhouse gasses. The bill’s passage also would have laid the groundwork for an expected future U.N. climate pact in Copenhagen in December.

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Senate to Push for Climate Change Bill

| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments


The Senate began to drive a climate change bill Tuesday that could require changing climate legislation currently supported by the Obama administration. The debate centers on the challenges of crafting a bill that will allow the U.S. to participate in global climate change efforts without hampering international trade or other priorities.

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Climate Change Study Singles Out the Rich – All of Them

| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Green_Karl_Marx.jpg One of the long standing grudge matches in climate talks has been between developed countries, like the US, who believe greenhouse gas emissions should be curbed in every country across the board, and developing countries, like China and India, who argue it’s unfair to make them drastically curb pollution as they grow, something rich countries never did.

A study published Monday
(PDF) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests a work-around: capping the emissions of “high CO2-emitting individuals,” aka the global wealthy, aka the majority of the people reading this blog, wherever they live, Beijing or Buffalo, London or Lagos.

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Green Genes @ Genentech: Green Teams Go BioTech

| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Founded in 1976, Genentech, a wholly owned member of the Roche Group since March 2009, is a biotech company with more than 11,000 employees. While generally viewed as a founder of the biotechnology industry, Genentech isn’t necessarily one of the first brand names that come to mind when people think of corporate sustainability. The pioneering firm is not an outdoor retailer or utility, so there’s no obvious connection to the environment through their product or their footprint. However, out of all the companies I’ve consulted with or worked for, Genentech is clearly among the farthest along in driving sustainability into their core DNA (forgive the pun). How did they get there, and what does a high-functioning green team at a large biotech company look like?

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How a 12-Second Video Can Help the Environment this Summer

| Wednesday July 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Mashable.com earlier this year announced a cool project. The Summer of Social Good, as they call it, is a way to capitalize on the immense power and capability of social media to bring about change.
According to organizers, the goal is to use the power of “Social Influence” via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Blogs and other online media to raise money for their fund that benefits The Humane Society, LIVESTRONG, Oxfam America, and WWF. The campaign started June 1st and goes until August 28th, 2009.
It is the first project of what is being dubbed, “Social Media for Social Good,” a so-called umbrella for organizations and charities to capitalize on social media.
This week, the folks over at 12seconds.tv joined forces with Mashable to announce a contest, offering a free Kodak Zi6 pocket video camera to the winner of users who upload their own 12 second video talking about what they are going to do for social good.

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Zipcar Launches First All-Electric Car-Sharing Pod

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

zipcar-electric.jpgZipcar, the innovative car-sharing service, today announced its first Electric Vehicle Pod, which will come equipped with an all-electric Citroen c1 (pictured above) and a plug-in Toyota Prius.

“Our proprietary car sharing technology platform allows us to manage a variety of cutting-edge vehicles, serving hundreds of thousands of Zipsters who benefit from convenience, cost savings, and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.” said Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO of Zipcar, in a press release this morning.

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Killer Bubbles vs. Kinder, Gentler. Which Speaks To a Better Cleaning Brand?

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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I once had a conversation with a leading brand exec from a major cleaning-products company about “green” cleaning products and how they’re marketed. This person told me that the biggest problem wasn’t that the “green” products had any performance weaknesses at all. Rather, the problem was that the majority of their customers felt that if a product didn’t sound and smell like it was going to kill them, they didn’t believe it would get the job done. This person didn’t see this as a problem, just a demographic fact.
Hence, you get articles in Wired magazine like this one about Palmolive promising “Killer Bubbles” that shred every last life form from whatever they touch via an unpronounceable alphabet soup of nasty chemicals. It might not be ironic then, that most “greener” brands (Ecover, 7th Gen, Method, and even Clorox’s GreenWorks) work just as well as the more toxic variety but remain less than mainstream.
You also get hypocrisy in branding. Jeffrey Hollender brilliantly illustrated this problem a few months ago by catching Clorox in an ironic dichotomy – simultaneously touting the beneficial attributes of Green Works, while bragging about the heinous toxicity of Formula 409 at the same time.
So what is it people want? Do they really think that only nuclear-powered brands of death will clean their counter tops? Or is there a genuine change of heart going on that the larger brands are just slower to jump on?

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Seventh Generation: Packaged Idealism

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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seventh GenObviously, one of the benefits of being socially and environmentally responsible today is the investment it makes in sustaining people and planet in the long term. No one represents this concept better than Seventh Generation, a company built upon the principle of preservation by considering the impact our everyday decisions will have on the next seven generations. In this spirit, Seventh Generation is the gateway for responsibility by equipping consumers with the details they need to make informed choices and eco-friendly products that help save natural resources, reduce pollution and keep toxic chemicals out of the environment.
While they develop and market a profitable branded line of non-toxic household products, their core focus is on education and shifting consumer mindset to one of giving back and living responsibly toward creating a healthier world. It is this conscious mindset that sets the tone for the company and drives all facets of their business practices and culture. And through an unwavering commitment to positive change, they have assembled a team fueled by passion, ideals and hope and pacakaged it as their gift for the children of tomorrow.

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SOCAP09: Towards Triple Impact – Sustainable Ventures in Developing Countries

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The UNDP’s Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative Seeks to Build Viable Markets, Alleviate Poverty and Protect the Environment
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“About 2.6 billion people in the world living on less than $2 a day are trapped outside of the global economy, looking in with minimal access to formal markets,” according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Living on the margins deprives the poor of opportunities, while discouraging many companies from offering the basic goods and services – things like consumer products, banking and telecommunications – that would empower the poor and improve their lives.
Among the world’s poor, there is no lack of human resources – minds and muscles – to build successful markets, and certainly no shortage of demand for goods and services. What’s missing in many cases are basic market mechanisms. Market components like financial services, physical infrastructure, government policy and regulation, and market information are the basic building blocks that make markets work.
Building viable markets that include the poor as consumers, producers and employees is the focus of the UNDP’s Private Sector Division, and specifically their Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) initiative. GIM serves as a platform to engage all the actors in the process of building more inclusive business models. It gathers relevant information, highlights good examples through case study research, develops practical operational strategies and creates space for dialogue.
At the upcoming Social Capital Markets conference (SOCAP09), GIM Programme Manager, Sahba Sobhani, will lead a panel discussion to highlight successful triple bottom line entrepreneurs from developing markets. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sahba Sobhani at the UNDP offices in New York to discuss the GIM initiative and their involvement with SOCAP09.

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Less Plastic? Really, SanDisk?

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 11 Comments

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It’s time for SanDisk to rethink its packaging. Oh wait, it already has.
Really, SanDisk? Is that much really plastic really necessary? I don’t mean to pick on this company specifically. Many electronic companies need to come up with better solutions to packaging, and some are working on it. However, they need to come up with something just a little better than this sad display before boasting about it.
Thanks for the photos, Phil Villarreal.

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Summer Project: Funding a Solar Project at a School

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Nationwide, K-12 schools spend over $6 billion per year on energythat’s more than textbooks and computers combined. While government-sponsored solar incentives hope to reduce that bill (and provide a fun educational opportunity for students), not all incentives are created equally.
When I asked Richard Raeke, Director of Project Finance at Borrego Solar Systems, to share his secret solar financing formula, he admitted his work is not easy: “I have a 17-page financial model to analyze the viability of any solar project.” He quipped he could work full-time just following all of the government incentive programs.
How can an average school district possibly keep up with changing trends? We offer a glimpse at incentive programs in two states and a few resources to get you started…

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Why Yahoo Won’t Buy Carbon Offsets Anymore

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Data-Rack 001During a press conference last week, Yahoo’s co-founder David Filo announced plans to build energy efficient data centers in New York. Standing by his side was New York Governor David Patterson and Senator Chuck Schumer. Filo also announced Yahoo would not be investing in carbon offsets anymore. According to a blog post by Filo, data centers represent the majority of Yahoo’s energy consumption.
Yahoo’s New York data centers will receive 90 percent of its power from hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. The data center it plans to build “will have an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 or better,” according to Filo. Yahoo plans to use only outside air to cool the servers.

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