This week we are honored to have climate change expert Hoff Stauffer answering reader submitted climate change questions. Thank you to all of you who submitted questions during the last week.Click to continue reading »
Lesley Nagy of BayArea TV 20′s “Your Green Report” interviewed me and Arcadia Maximo about the Carnival of the Green last week! I thought it was pretty fun. Be sure to check out this week’s carnival on Arcadia’s Site The Goode Life. If you have a blog and are interested in hosting the carnival or submitting posts, pop over to treehugger and read how!
Natural Capitalism co-author Hunter Lovins lists Green to Gold as a must read. Not only did I read and enjoy it, but through Triple Pundit I was given the opportunity to interview Dan Esty, one of the passionate authors of Green to Gold – How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (Yale Press, 2006). The book provides an easy-to-read analysis of the challenges and opportunities that businesses face when incorporating environmental strategy. It also offers practical steps businesses can take to become more competitive in this new business climate. Mr. Esty introduces his book this way:
What sets this book apart in the marketplace is that it is written with a business perspective for business people in business language with business examples and all of that adds up to something different than what has been put out there before. Specifically, it is not an environmentalist telling businesses how to behave, but is a business perspective on bringing the environment into corporate strategy.
The following is from my interview with Dan Esty on March 6, 2007:
According to Supercomputing Online ” in 2005, total data center electricity consumption in the U.S., including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment, was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to $2.7 billion.” The average emissions per MWh in the US are 0.61 metric tons (mT), so US data center electricity use amounts to 27.45 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. With 200,000,000 internet users in the US (2005), that is 137 mT for each one of us. But this is a whole other topic…Click to continue reading »
Next week Hoff Stauffer will be answering questions about global climate change and what we, as a global community, can do about it. Please submit your burning questions to pablo.paster(at)gmail.com or in the AskPablo comment section.
Hoff, who has done research and consulting on energy and environmental issues for many years and was the first Director of Economic Analysis at the US EPA, is focusing on Global Warming. Since the science is clear, he believes: “The debate in the United States on global climate change is shifting from whether to do something about the problem to what to do.” But he is concerned that inflexible conventional wisdom and misperceptions are inhibiting progress. “Given the irreconcilable problems with cap and trade, we need to transcend the conventional wisdom and shift the debate to a more viable strategy….[that] relies on performance standards for new sources of GHG emissions.” “The notion that ‘draconian measures’ would be required [to mitigate global warming] is an unfortunate misperception that has inhibited meaningful action.” See some of his recent articles in Foreign Policy in Focus: A New Standard, Climate Change: Is It Prudent to Wait?, and Climate Change Roundtable.
In The Sustainability Revolution, Edwards has given us a neat presentation of both the evolution and main principles of the sustainability movement up to the time of printing (2005). This is an important book because — without actually defining what sustainability is— Edwards gives us a pretty clear idea of what’s involved in “being sustainable”. At a time when “sustainability” is quickly becoming a buzz word, this book would be a very useful resource to a wide range of people, especially those looking for a starting point to learn how sustainability applies to business. Edwards covers all the critical standards and benchmarks, reflecting how broadly relevant the basic principles and themes are: from Natural Step to Natural Capitalism; the ICC Charter to The Earth Charter. Though at times Edwards’ writing is dry or dull, he is deftly able to organize dense information. For quick reference, look to the timeline and chart on page 124-126.
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Kate lives in San Francisco, and is currently earning her MBA at Presidio School of Management. Her motivation to engage sustainability in the arena of business started six years ago with books like “If Women Counted”, by Marilyn Waring and “Natural Capitalism”, by Paul Hawken, Amory & Hunter Lovins. She is particularly interested in working with the small business sector to promote sustainability and localism.
Natural Capitalism was published at a poignant moment in human history. As we edged toward the new millennium, it appeared that the unintended consequences of industrialization were finally getting the spot light: the U.S., along with several other countries, was on the verge of joining the Kyoto Protocol; electric and hybrid cars had hit the market and gained popularity, and Ray Anderson of Interface Carpet became the poster child of the business case for sustainability.
There is no doubt that this monster of a book contributed significantly to the sustainability movement that was gaining huge momentum (and continues to do so today). At the time it was written, when others felt the need to be revolutionary, Natural Capitalism was evolutionary. Without leaving the capitalist system, it gives us a framework to re-organize our market-driven economy around valuing all forms of capital: natural, human, manufactured, and financial. Hawken and the Lovinses propose Natural capitalism as the means to have both a prosperous economy and thriving natural environment, while meeting all human needs.
BYOB’s not what it used to be; at least not at IKEA. Their new mantra is “Bring Your Own Bag” and it is music to my ears. For years I’ve endured the look of surprise or scorn when I’ve answered the inevitable “paper or plastic?” with a third unspoken option “I brought my own.” I even typically bag my own since it takes the bagger a while to contemplate my words, having never been trained for this alternative customer response. I’ve found that if I stop the bagger after they’ve put one item in the plastic bag, the bag is thrown into the garbage, defeating the whole purpose my not wanting the bag :(
So, how many plastic bags do we use? According to ReusableBags.com, each year 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are consumed worldwide – that is 1 million per minute! They are seldom reused and billions end up as litter each year. The U.S. discards 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags annually. The cost to retailers to provide plastic bags is $4 billion per year.
What you see above is a collaborative project between TreeHugger and Daylife. It’s an index of the frequency with which certain key terms appear in the press and online media. It’s not exactly scientific, but it gives a fun look at the zeitgeist of green.
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In The Next Sustainability Wave, Bob Willard gives us an overview of the drivers for sustainability in the corporate world. This is Willard’s second book on outlining how to build the case for sustainability in business ( The Sustainability Advantage, his first, was published in 2002). The book is written for corporate business leaders, and Willard clearly knows his audience. It is particularly formatted for executives or those who like their information is bit-sized parcels (on the right side is text, with bold headers; on the left are quotes, cartoons, or anecdotes pertaining to the header). Willard argues that although there are executives that have a personal passion for sustainability, businesses need a great deal more leadership in this arena. His arguments center on the bottom-line impact, but he also suggests that as the popularity of “sustainable” grows, firms that do not adopt sustainable practices will eventually have a public relations crisis. His stance is that social and environmental responsibility is not a moral imperative, but a business solution.
Chris McLaren, owner of Lush Beverages of Ottawa, Canada, sent this week’s question. He changed his packaging from glass to PET this year, partially for environmental reasons. But to date no one has been able to quantify those reasons for him. I will give it the old Boy Scout try to see if I can substantiate his decision numbers.Click to continue reading »
Freight trains are already three times more fuel efficient than over-the-road trucks, and 400 miles or less seems to be the only place where trucks beat trains in overall efficiency. Yet the times necessitate innovation and invention from all.
Union Pacific, GE and Mother Nature teamed up in Oakland on Friday morning for an outstanding presentation of joint efforts in the Green Locomotive Technology Tour. With the cost of energy wearing our wallets ever thinner, our planet less and less sustainable and our cultures less amenable, it was heartening to see two giants in the infrastructure and transportation fields promote their recent efforts in Green Technology.
The old fashioned whistle stop tour has not lost its charm amongst the industries innovations. While attendance was spotty, those who braved the bright sunshine and crisp gentle breezes were treated to a well researched and thoughtful tour, complete with an engineer’s simulator experience.
Could it be true? Is Netflix helping to solve the global climate catastrophe? This weekend Netflix reached an impressive milestone; one billion DVDs sent. Could the resulting reduction in personal vehicle trips to the video rental store make a difference in the battle against climate change? Well, read on…
A DVD weighs about 16g with its mailing sleeve. Netflix has 42 facilities placed strategically around the country so that greater then 90% of their customers are within one shipping day, probably averaging around 200 km (125 miles) from facility to customer (if anyone from Netflix reads this and has better data, please let me know…). Since commercial vehicle/truck emissions are often calculated in g/tkm (grams of CO2 per tons x kilometer) we need to determine the tons shipped since they first began shipping DVDs. One billion DVDs would weigh about 16 Billion grams (16,000 tons). Multiply this by 200 km average shipping distance and you get 3,200,000 tkm.
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“Nice trim,” I was told. “Is that coyote fur?” It took me awhile for his words to sink in. I don’t wear fur. How in the world did I end up buying a coat with a coyote-trimmed fur hood? I didn’t know U.S. clothing retailers are not required to label fur if the fur is valued at less than $150.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fur; I love fur on live animals, not dead ones. Sure, in some societies, people wear bison or deerskin, of animals they’ve killed to eat. So where is fox, beaver, mink, chinchilla, or raccoon on the restaurant menu?
Liz Jones, the UK’s Daily Mail fashion columnist, penned a “must-read” column on fur in the fashion industry providing an astute first-hand account of designers and consumers of fur.