Radical Solution to Climate Change: Global Dimming through Sulphur

| Thursday May 22nd, 2008 | 7 Comments

dimming.jpgTim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers and Australia’s best-known global warming expert, yesterday released a new climate forecast. Since his last major forecast in 2005, he has projected a direr outcome and in turn suggests consideration of radical solutions to the global warming phenomenon, including ‚Äòdimming’ through sulphur.
Professor Flannery spoke at a business and sustainability conference at Parliament House in Australia on Monday. He has brought to national media attention new science results that show how the world is more susceptible to and affected by greenhouse gas emissions; more so than has ever been considered previously. For Flannery, greenhouse gases that are present in the atmosphere today are already having too great an impact, regardless of changes made to emission levels in the future.

“The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change”

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Conscious Capitalism: From Social Responsibility to the “Experience Economy”

Thomas Schueneman | Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

Consious capitalism and the meaning based economy“We’re now hip deep, if not drowning, in the ‘experience economy’.”

I recently attended Part 2 of the Commonwealth Club’s panel discussion Conscious Capitalism (part 1 of the discussion was held last January and is available online at Fora.TV – Part 2 should be available there soon).

Panel members included:

Conscious capitalists all… 

Uh huh, and what does that mean?

Exactly!

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Landfill Gas: A Valuable Resource?

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 3 Comments

wm.jpgLandfill gas, comprised mostly of carbon dioxide and methane gas, is a byproduct of trash as it breaks down. Methane is a particularly menacing greenhouse gas, which has 20 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately landfills are abundant in our society, which continue to emit landfill gas for decades after a landfill is closed. With all the bad news surrounding methane and landfills, one wouldn’t expect to hear about an innovative source of energy.
When tapped, landfill gas can be a valuable source of energy that mitigates the effects that such gas has on climate change. This energy can be used to produce electricity, heat buildings, or fuel trucks.

Fuel from Trash Will Power California Garbage Trucks

300 garbage collection trucks in California will soon be fueled by the same trash that they haul. Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.

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UK Restaurant Study Reveals Dining Out Produces 100 Times More CO2 Compared To Eating In

| Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

tomoto.jpgEver thought about how a visit to a restaurant impacts your carbon footprint? Recent research shows that food served in over 40 London restaurants is not just slightly CO2 intensive, but that in many cases restaurant food produces over 100 times more CO2 than locally bought ingredients.

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High Tech with Heart: Intel & Grameen Bank Seek to Bridge the Digital Divide

| Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments


Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett on May 19 announced that Intel Capital and Grameen Trust, the micro-finance-community development pioneer founded by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, will create a business venture dedicated to social and economic development in poor communities throughout the developing world.
The initiative, which will be launched in Bangladesh, aims to bridge the digital divide that excludes many of the world’s most wanting from taking part in and reaping the benefits of the information and computing technology advances that have so quickly become a keystone in the functioning of modern economies and societies.
During his opening day keynote at the World Congress on Information Technology 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Barrett also announced a collaborative effort with NetHope and demonstrated for the first time the new Aid Station device designed to support NGOs in their health care, disaster relief and economic relief efforts.

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Carrot Mob: Flipping Consumer Activism On Its Head

| Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 6 Comments

carrot%20mob.png While it seems the Exxon needs the force of the Rockefeller family led investor revolt to get it to budge on directing more energy towards renewable energy and taking climate change seriously, is that always the case? Do companies need to be compelled forcibly by threat of boycott, protest, regulation or other forms of financial punishment to effect change? Carrot Mob has a different idea, turning group activism on its head to an entirely more positive model.
It’s often said that you vote with your dollars, and what you buy sends signals to companies. But what if, rather then as individuals supporting businesses we like, or boycotting them en masse, we as a crowd were harnessed to financially reward companies that make the most change, as compared to other companies competing for the honor? What if we dropped the stick, and put out a carrot, that carrot being that you will have a “Carrot Mob” descend on your store and make a point of buying from you on a specified date, and perhaps even ongoing? That, I imagine, would be quite the motivation for a business to extend itself to make the effort to change or improve how they do business, generating immediate financial returns, positive press, and longer term goodwill from consumers.
In a video on the Carrot Mob site, exactly this is demonstrated.

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Mechanical Fin Power: Oceanic Power Generation

| Wednesday May 21st, 2008 | 2 Comments

biopower.jpgTim Finnigan, a professor of ocean engineering at the University of Sydney in Australia designed a radical oceanic energy collector inspired by the design of shark tails. Mimicking the successful evolutionary design of the fish species, he constructed a device that seizes the power of the sea. “I realized the systems that function the best are the ones that already exist there,” said Finnigan.
The BioStream design is modeled after the most efficient tailfins the sea offers, that of tuna and sharks. The fins are crescent-shaped and stiff and effectively generate a powerful and seamless thrust. The device works rather simply; it is anchored into place in the sea bed with 32-foot rock-bolt anchors. Utilizing a smart and effective cable and pulley system, the BioStream device is tugged toward the sea floor and latched into place via an autonomic latching mechanism. The installation process from start to finish takes less than three days to complete.

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Shareholder Activism Turns to “Revolt” Against Exxon’s Stance on Climate Change

Thomas Schueneman | Tuesday May 20th, 2008 | 3 Comments

Rockefellers lead shareholder revolt against exxonJohn D. Rockefeller founded the core business that is now ExxonMobil, creating a family fortune worth billions of dollars. A report in the Guardian.co.uk yesterday says that family fortune is now leading a “shareholder revolt” against Exxon, calling for a shake-up in leadership at the world’s largest, and some might argue least favorite, oil company (if anyone really has a “favorite” oil company).

At the heart of the growing investor dissatisfaction is Exxon’s intransigence in its position on climate change. While other large oil companies are committing large scale investment in alternative energy Exxon remains committed to the idea that such technology is not economically viable.

The Rockefeller family has sponsored four shareholder resolutions demanding changes in Exxon’s governance. One of the resolutions is for CEO Rex Tillerson to step down from his role as chairman to allow an outsider to sit on the board and bring a fresh perspective – get a real debate going on the board and perhaps bring about a change of direction.

In the UK, the resolution calling for an independent board chairman is backed by F&C Asset Management, Morley Fund Management, the Co-Operative Insurance Society, and the West Midlands Pension Fund.

In the U.S. advisory firms RiskMetrics, Glass Lewis, and Proxy Governance all urge fund managers to back the resolution.

The growing support for the resolution and dissatisfaction from investors may lead to an embarrassing defeat for ExxonMobile at its annual meeting later this month.   

Exxon’s general response to the brewing revolt is that the board knows best. In a written response earlier this month Exxon said that the board has “considerable experience and unique knowledge of the challengers and opportunities the company faces”

Apparently a growing number of investors don’t agree.

Further Reading
GlobalWarmingisReal: Wind Energy Investment Can Provide Jobs and Energy Security for the Cost of Four Months in Iraq
Energy and Capital: The True Cost of Oil
AlterNet: It’s the Obscene Profits, Stupid! Exxon’s Enormous Gains from the U.S. Keep Growing

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ClimatePULSE: Municipalities and Carbon Markets (Part 2)

| Tuesday May 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgLast week, ClimatePULSE looked at some of the complexities specific to municipal climate change mitigation projects and at some of the typical difficulties that municipal project leaders experience in generating credits from their projects. The conclusion was that municipalities and their projects can generate credits in numerous ways, but only if there is clear municipal ownership of the reductions and if those emissions can be accounted for in a very detailed and accurate way. This week, the discussion will focus on how municipalities can put this conclusion into practice to generate credits for the carbon market.
The key to ensuring municipal ownership of the GHG reduction is in understanding the types of sources of municipal GHG emissions. Municipal GHG emissions, like those of any other organization, include numerous sources of direct and indirect emissions from within and beyond the geopolitical boundaries of the municipality. However, unlike the majority of other (especially private sector) organizations, emissions related to actions within the boundaries of the municipality can fall into more than one category: they may be corporate/government or community emissions.

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IBM Invents Super Cheap Solar Technology

| Tuesday May 20th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Solar energy is child’s play. Just use a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re generating energy in a jiffy. It’s what scientists at IBM are doing. They’ve launched what they claim to be breakthrough solar energy which is among the cheapest solar solutions around.

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UPS Stays In the Driver’s Seat With Alternative Fuel Technology

Thomas Schueneman | Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

UPS expands its alternative fuel fleetOn May 13th UPS announced the purchase of 200 hybrid-electric and 300 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, further adding to what is the largest “green” or alternative fuel commercial fleet in the industry (see my recent post about the UPS Telematics program). The purchase of 500 new alternative-fuel vehicles will grow that fleet 30% from 1,718 to 2,218 low-carbon vehicles.

On Friday I had the opportunity to speak with Robert Hall, Director of Vehicle Engineering for UPS, about this latest expansion and the general philosophy that drives UPS in alternative fuel vehicles.  

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Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany (Day 1)

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

cop9.pngThe Convention on Biological Diversity is a treaty between nations to maintain diversity and sustain life on earth. Every year the party nations meet to discuss progress of the convention, topical issues and strategic planning. This year our attention is drawn to the devastation brought about by climatic disasters and the real economic cost of losing biodiversity.
The convention was born from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where world leaders signed up to a strategy for sustainable development; to meet our needs while ensuring that we leave a viable world for future generations.
The convention as agreed to at the Earth Summit has three main goals:

“the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources”

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Ask Pablo: Termites! Is there a way to get rid of them without turning my house into a gas chamber?

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

A friend just found out that he has major termites in his house. He has no choice but to take steps to get rid of them. That said, what is the least environmentally offensive method of doing this? And on a purely theoretical note, if he had the ability to not do anything and eventually rebuild the house, is it easy to assume that fumigating would do less harm on a large scale than building an all-new house?
This is a common dilemma for homeowners, particularly those in warm coastal regions such as California, Texas and Florida. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause $5 billion in damage each year. Eradicating termites by fumigation involves flooding your house with toxic gas, but inaction can lead to structural failure of a timber-framed building. Luckily there are alternatives to turning your house into a gas chamber so that you can protect your investment, your health and the environment.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/ask_pablo/2008/05/19/ask_pablo_termites/index.html

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EU Policy Makers Are Proposing To Slash 10% Biofuel Target

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 1 Comment

crops.jpgMuch more than food will be at stake at next Thursday’s vote in the EU parliament for a resolution on food prices. Food shortages in the Third World are increasingly linked with the EU’s biofuel crops, that’s why.
Whether or not that link is justified is for the time being hard to establish. What is certain is that food prices in the Third World are rising and that anything to stop this obviously is of massive importance. Cultivation of crops that are competing with food provisions was “understandable at a time when food prices were lower but not any more,” Jeffrey Sachs recently was heard saying. Sachs, a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, recommended that both the EU and the US rethink their biofuel policies. He’s joined by many other high profile people and organizations. Even the European Environment Agency, an official advisory body to the European Commission, has called for a suspension of the 10% biofuels target.

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The Ecology of Wastewater Treatment: Giving Nature a Helping Hand, Part 2

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments


Companies such as Israel’s Aqwise see a growing market for ecological wastewater and sanitation services. Backed by a diverse group of investors, including Israel’s Cleantech Ventures, Elron Electronic Industries and AHMSA Steel Israel, a subsidiary of Altos Hornos de Mexico SA de CV, Aqwise is looking to build and grow along with a market and industry that is expanding and consolidating as it attracts investments from multinational corporations.
Aqwise currently has 40 installations up and running, split 50-50 between industry and municipal customers, as well as a large number of projects in its development pipeline. “We are currently active in the food and beverage industry, which has a lot of organic material in its wastewater, and we have quite a lot of experience in the pulp and paper industry – recycling paper is very water-intensive.
“We’re also in aquaculture – fish ponds to increase yields and re-circulate water in inland fish ponds, as well as two new fields: one is definitely the oil and gas world – petrochemical refineries – and we’re now starting to penetrate the biofuel industry – corn and other ethanol plants, which have a lot of wastewater to treat,” explained Aqwise CEO Elad Frenkel during an April interview, the first installment of which can be found here.

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