A new publication, “Citizen’s Guide to Carbon Capping,” presents an interesting concept for making a cap-and-trade system more effective in our nation. This 22-page book (free and downloadable on onthecommons.org) presents concise and innovative ideas for crafting a carbon policy in the U.S. that reduces emissions and enhances our country’s economic well-being. The gem of the plan relies on the idea of the “Sky Trust,” which is a cap-and-dividend system that cuts carbon while supplementing household incomes. Basically, “You gain if you conserve and lose if you guzzle.” The idea is true genius. Lawmakers and presidential candidates that promote the Sky Trust in the coming months will be sure to come out on top with public support.Click to continue reading »
I’m not a big reader of magazines or periodicals but one I always look forward to receiving is High Country News, especially when it comes to the environment, politics and the West, one of my favorite reads is High Country News…Check that, I’d say that it is one of my favorite periodicals period.
Decrying our lack of a national energy policy, HCN senior editor Ray Ring in a Jan. 21 feature article resurrects the words of then Pres. Jimmy Carter thirty years ago when the U.S. was facing the first oil and energy crisis. He also offers presidential candidates some advice: pay more attention to the West and its specific needs and issues, particularly in light of growing voting populations and the need to balance social, economic, security, energy and environmental needs.
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The 1980′s witnessed the inception of wood-pellet stoves but the benefits and efficiency of this innovative product, has not showed its face until recently. A pellet stove is a small electric unit that burns small pieces of recycled and compacted sawdust pellets. The advantages to wood pellet stoves are many, for one, they are extremely efficient, use inexpensive fuel and produce very little waste.
The fuel are the tightly compressed pieces of sawdust which are released into the stoves through some complicated machinery which adds new pellets to the fire when more fuel is needed. All that is required of the user is dumping pellets into the hopper when it is empty. The mechanical auger transfers the pellets into the fire as needed.
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Are you curious to know your energy consumption within your home or business? Here is a simple and easily integrated device for your home or business. Considering the world-wide focus on green building sustainability this is a good measurement point for determining your energy consumption. E-Mon has recently introduced a line of Green Class meters. The E-mon D-mon Green Class meters are a useful tool for monitoring your energy usage data.
The meters provide a wealth of information such as usage trends and a record of the impact that your home or business is having on the environment. For example, a responsible business recently incorporating an energy retrofit will be able to verify the continual effectiveness of an energy savings initiative. It can even be displayed as a statement piece in a lobby or waiting room, highlighting your company’s resolve on reducing its footprint.
Back in December I wrote about the upcoming launch of a Greenwashing Index website from EnviroMedia in partnership with University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
The site is now live and I’ve just spent some time taking a look at what they’ve accomplished.
In their own words, the goal of the index is to:
- Help consumers become more savvy about evaluating environmental marketing claims of advertisers
- Hold businesses accountable to their environmental marketing claims
- Stimulate the market and demand for sustainable business practices that truly reduce the impact on the environment.
All visitors can view the ads, there are about 50 currently posted, and registered users can submit and rate ads based on a five-point criteria. The site also offers pertinent news and commentary. The idea is to present both good examples of green marketing as well as pure, unadulterated greenwash. If you’re interested in any aspect of green marketing consider taking a moment or two to check out EnviroMedia’s Greenwashing Index.
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I admit it. I have an amazon addiction. As a researcher and reporter, I’m committed to buying books. I try to buy used when I can, but sometimes I break down and buy new. I wish I had the option to buy the books I want on recycled paper, but unfortunately, that’s not always offered. But now I can buy a planted tree for every book I buy with Ecolibris.
Electric car entrepreneurs are really starting to gather momentum this year. Joining the ranks of the Tesla and the Phoenix, the Aptera intends to begin production in late 2008. What makes the Aptera stand out (in addition to its unique aerodynamic design), is its versatility and price. The Aptera is available in two models: a plug-in electric hybrid model ($29, 900) and an all-electric model ($26, 900). Individuals and organizations can reserve an Aptera today for $500 on their website. Talk about a sleek car to slap a corporate logo on for instant green-cred!Click to continue reading »
Eleven of the world’s largest corporations have agreed to measure carbon dioxide emissions of several hundred companies in their supply chains as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project. The data will be used to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, according to a Jan. 20 CDP media release.
Each member of the CDP’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC) will ask as many as 50 suppliers to complete a standardized request for information, one that is undergoing review and testing during this year’s first quarter. The CDP is aiming to substantially enhance the ability of large companies, as well as their supply chain partners, to develop carbon footprint reduction strategies by enlarging SCLC membership and eventually having tens of thousands of supply chain partners participate in the process.
“The Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration is a key step towards a unified business approach to climate change. By bringing together the purchasing authority of some of the largest companies in the world, CDP will encourage suppliers to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions. This will enable large companies to work towards managing their total carbon footprint, as the first step to reducing the total carbon footprint is to measure its size,” CDP CEO Paul Dickinson stated.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has teamed up with IBM, Nokia, Sony, and Pitney-Bowes in an “Eco-Patent Commons” program based on the model of the creative commons.
Initially putting a select group of about 31 patents into the public domain, the intent is for more companies to pledge patents designed to foster greater innovation and environmental benefit. A win-win situation for all, it seems.
This short video describes in greater detail the project and some of the initial patents pledged to the program:
Last month I wrote about an innovative idea from SkySailsof Hamburg Germany set to make shipping more energy efficient while reducing carbon emissions (merchant shipping accounts for some 800 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year): A computer controlled, deployable kite system that harnesses the wind and, under ideal circumstances, can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% – a very old idea utlizing the latest technology.
To update the story, the MS Beluga Skysails set sail today from the northern Germany port of Bremerhaven on her maiden commercial voyage, carrying parts for wind turbines (ironically enough) to Guanta Venezuela.
The voyage is the first of a series of practical tests in which SkySails hopes to fully prove their system to the wider shipping industry.
We’ll keep an eye on the Beluga Skysails as the voyage progresses.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week record growth in wind power generation with 5,244 megawatts of capacity installed in 2007 – a 45% increase reflecting $9 billion in investment and 30% of all new power generating capacity in 2007.
2008, however, will likely show growing pains as there is a current shortage of wind turbines, a situation that the AWEA sees as a big opportunity for manufacturers and entrepreneurs wishing to get in on a growing market. There’s always a better mouse trap – wind energy technology is ripe for imaginative innovators to not only fill the current need for parts, but to continually make those parts better.
It is also time for government to step up to the plate and push forward in support of alternative energy in a big way. Congress is debating this week the future of alternative energy tax credits set to expire this year with no current provision for renewal.
While the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 recently signed in Congress does provide $2 billion dollars in research for alternative energy, it still pales in comparison to subsidies given the fossil fuel industry.
Farmers also have a great opportunity to capitalize on wind power generation, “growing” energy from wind and leaving their corn for food instead of ethanol. After all, not all alternative energy is created equal.
Israel and Renault/Nissan announced today that they will work together, as part of Project Better Place, to create a market and an infrastructure for the mass production of electric vehicles. This move is a testament to the potential of sustainable development when the political will and entrepreneurial spirit are in place.Click to continue reading »
Are you eating? Here’s a few statistics to chew on: In the US, restaurants are the top electricity consumer among retail businesses. 33% of it. Each restaurant produces an average of 50,000 pounds of waste. Eat up, unless you want to add to that last figure. That is, unless you happen to be dining at a restaurant certified by the Green Restaurant Association, which aids member restaurants in achieving a near zero waste status.
There are several local green restaurant certification programs out there these days, with varying levels of requirements. But for the most impact on your bottom line, the one that rises to the top is the Green Restaurant Association. Why? It comes down to their reach, resources, and impact. They are national, take a hands on, multi stakeholder approach, and have several ways to generate awareness of your restaurant, online, in person, and in the community you live in.
This non-profit claims to have the world’s largest database of environmental solutions for the restaurant industry, and couples that with consultants personally involved with helping restaurants become green, or in the case of Ike’s Quarter Cafe, greener. Ike’s, in business for 7 years as of this month, has long been a green minded restaurant, from their choice of produce to their focus on local resources. Why get certified? Ike’s is in the small, charming town of Nevada City, California (home to the recent Wild and Scenic Film Festival) While it’s well loved by locals and visitors who happen to find it, having a national presence, an easy conduit for those seeking out restaurants whose practices match their values, is a clear reason to want to be a part of an association such as GRA.
So your restaurant is put up on a few websites, what else do they do for you?
The issue of states’ rights was a central and hotly debated one in the late 18th century as the U.S.’ Founding Fathers sought to establish an independent nation. It continues to be one today, and environmental laws and regulations are often at the cutting edge.
The field of environmental justice is the offspring of two prominent, originally counter-culture movements of the 1960s and ‚Äò70s – the civil rights and environmental movements. It began to coalesce and take shape in the 1980s and in Oct. 1991 the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit was held in Washington D.C.
“Seventeen principles of environmental justice were drafted and adopted. Among those were assertions that environmental justice ‚Äòdemands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias’,” wrote Taylor Sisk in a Nov. 15 article in North Carolina’s Carboro Citizen.
This charter statement of principles also “affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples”; “demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making”; and “protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages.”
Environmental justice has since evolved and grown, and now serves as a nationwide forum for a wide range of related issues – from emissions, fuel efficiency and renewable fuel and power standards to where and how we should dispose of our trash and toxic waste – as well as a well-spring of grass roots, democratic action.