Just a little post this morning – it’s Monday, and that means a new carnival of the green. This time it’s over on a site called “The Naked Vegitarian“. Pop over and give it a read!
- Sustainable Brands® Announces 2014 Innovation Open Semi-finalists
- OF THE SEA, a new film about seafood & sustainability launches on Kickstarter
- Global Reporting Initiative celebrates new era for non-financial information disclosure in the EU
- More Renewable Energy Needed to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change
McDonalds is a company that’s almost as demonized as Wal Mart, sometimes for silly reasons, sometimes for legitimate ones. Anyway, a few years ago McDonalds published a fake weblog about a french fry that looked like Abraham Lincoln. It was a major flop (read about it here) and bloggers around the world derided the company as badly out of touch.
Now, they seem to have made ammends with the blogging phenomenon and offered what appears to be a pretty transparent “CSR Blog” on which you are free to comment away. Check it out here.
Despite the noteworthy efforts of bottled water companies like Ethos and Biota, plastic bottles seem to be accumulating at an alarming rate, particularily in the developing world. (See this article in WBCSD) Part of it is fashion and paranoia in the United States, but part of it is grounded in legitimate distrust for the municipal water supplies that a generation ago were drunk from without so much as a second thought. What changed?
In the developing world, it’s obvious why people drink bottled water – tap water really isn’t safe as a general rule, but how many billions of plastic bottles can we handle? Even if they are reused or recycled? Hopefully bottled water companies will come to embrace non-plastic bottles, or at least attempt some better recycling programs than are currently in place. But more importantly, maybe we can get better guarantees from local governments that tap water is both safe and tasty.
Joining the ranks of states like California, the Wisconsin senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that requires 10% of electricity generated in the state to come from renewable sources by 2015. [article here] The bill, if passed by the state assembly, would generate billions in (mostly) wind-power projects for the local economy as well as take preasure off existing fossil fuel based generators. It’s especially refreshing to see this kind of leadership coming to fruition in the nation’s heartland – and also that it’s been an enthusiastic, bi-partisan effort.
I’m still a little disapointed with the status of American carmakers when it comes to high efficiency vehicles. Still, the advertisement which ran during the Super Bowl featuring Kermit the Frog and the Ford Escape Hybrid was cute, and hopefully effective.
True, it’s still an SUV, but Americans find trucks to be more fashionable than smaller cars. Whether that’s irrational is besides the point, it’s the way it is around here. For that reason, I have to applaud Ford for at least making a little effort. And also for spending the money to advertise it during the biggest TV event of the year. It’s a small step, but it’s something. Watch the commercial here on hybridcars.com.
Fellow Presidio MBA student Ed West and I interviewed Hunter Lovins for Treehugger last week. The interview went so well we decided to split it into two parts. In the first section, Hunter talks about her work creating sustainable local economies and what she’s been up to in Afghanistan. It’s well worth a read. Ed’s also conducting a short survey on people’s buying habits in conjunction with Hunter’s work in Afghanistan. If you have another few minutes, click here to take the survey.
Although it smacks a wee bit of greenwashing, British Petroleum has teamed up with a handful of Hollywood stars to promote a solar energy campaign aimed at low income residents. (business 2.0 article here) The project works like this:
A celebrity purchases a home solar system from BP, and an identical system is donated to a poor family in L.A. So far 23 families have benefitted. I’m not sure why they purchaser has to be a celebrity, nor have I seen the actual list of participants aside from Ed Norton. But why not throw a little Hollywood glam into the appeal of solar? It really can’t hurt.
This is a bit of a side note, but Worldchanging has put together a very moving photographic journey with the help of photographer Ed Burtynsky. Click the image above to go straight to the site.
Is this directly related to business? Well, yes it is, because it goes to the very fundamentals of what we’re trying to accomplish to build a better world, and business is very much a part of that. Also, Worldchanging is one of my favorite sites. Take a minute to give it a view!
The BBC’s Mike Williams interviews Chevron vice-chairman Peter Robertson on peak oil and the future of the oil industry. The vice chairman gets put on the spot in a major way by the British interviewer who mercilessly drills him on climate change, greenwashing, the inevitability of the end of oil as well as what the public “really wants”.
Robertson defends the company by standing by claims that oil is nowhere near running out and that Chevron will basically continue doing exactly what it has been doing all along – extracting oil and selling it to consumers who demand it, and nothing else. If, in fact, consumers were demanding alternative energy, Robertson says that Chevron would happily provide it.
Williams pushes his buttons pretty hard saying that the popularity of Chevron’s own “Will You Join Us” website proves that consumers are demanding alternatives and that the relatively small amount of investment that Chevron is making in renewables proves they are just pulling a PR stunt.
Robertson makes some reasonable rebukes, and comes across as a reasonably honest sounding guy, but still comes across as leading a rather boring, uninspired company that really isn’t doing much but towing the status quo. That said, the weakness in the interview is that Williams never really addresses the issue of “is it really Chevron’s responsibility anyway”. He also fails to challenge Chevron on weather they really believe that petrol emissions are messing up the planet and whether anything needs to be done.
(you can launch the interview by clicking here)
Even by itself, each one of these three statistics is enough to bring deep fear to any socially and environmentally conscious person:
1. Of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 16 are in China
2. The Chinese automobile market is expected to be bigger than the U.S. market by 2025. Some 74 million Chinese families can now afford to buy cars.
3. Every month, China must build enough urban infrastructures to accommodate a city the size of Houston in order to absorb the 300 million rural Chinese who will move to cities in the next 15 years.
These figures come from an article featured in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 13 highlighting Governor Schwarzenegger’s trip there. Apparently the abovementioned statistics and their implications were not lost to the governor. In addition to making speeches at disability and Special Olympics conferences, he promoted California clean technologies for China’s problems. Aside from the heavy dose of celebrity marketing, the Governor used well documented social cause marketing strategies to not only pitch California’s green products, but to make a veiled political statement on human rights as well.
Coming from an oil company, tough talk on climate change is sometimes hard to believe. But Shell should still be applauded for at least giving lip service to promoting the idea of tighter emissions controls. (WBCSD a few days ago) Since a ravaged climate has an obviously negative effect on almost any business, it’s clearly in Shell’s interest to do something to prevent that. They’re not going to move into renewables overnight, so why not promote efficiency and emissions reduction technology in automobiles? It makes perfect business sense for Shell – they can go on selling gasoline for the near future – and the rest of us benefit from the emissions reduction in the meantime (hopefully).
I can’t help bu get excited when major, mainstream business publications have interesting storied related to environmental matters and in particular, climate change. The Financial Times (link via WBCSD) has a great piece on a good overview of the problems encountered in trying to justify costs in the short term that may or may not offset long term disasters.
It has taken some time for the economics of climate change to enter the mainstream. While scientific knowledge in this area has leapt ahead, economic advances have been much slower. You do not have to look far for the reasons. Most economics theory is designed to cope with issues that are relatively short term or national. Even international economics is ill-equipped to deal with trans-boundary issues.
While you’re out at the last minute today trying to decide what to do for your sweetheart, don’t forget to make it a “sustainable” Valentine’s Day – your lover will appreciate it! Treehugger has been kind enough to pull together no less than 50 recommendations to give something today that says “I love you” while demonstrating your sophisticated understanding of ecology and sustainabilty. Check it out!
For the ultra-wealthy, owning a number of vacation homes scattered around the globe is a standard perk (say what you will about it). But, given that many of these homes sit vacant for much of the year (or more) their impact on environmental sustainability, not to mention the buyer’s pocketbook, is decidedly unsatisfying.
Enter the “destination club” concept. Much like the “car-sharing” services available to urban mortals, destination clubs offer all the perks of ownership at a fraction of the price because the homes are shared with other, very wealthy clients. It’s a little like a time-share, but more expensive and more exlusive. It’s also just common sense. Granted, it’s still an indulgance that average folks will never enjoy, and which is typically not ecologically sound, but any improvement in efficiency is a good thing in my book. The Helium Report has more.