Weeklong UN Conference on Climate Change Begins

Tori Okner | Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

accra_logo_160x308.gif“Climate change is with us,” began the Honorable Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment of the Republic of Ghana, as he welcomed delegates to the Accra Climate Change Talks. The conference is the third in a series that constitutes the Bali Action Plan. The goal? Establish an international accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
More than 1,000 delegates from over 150 countries have come together in Accra. Previous meetings, held in Bangkok in April and Bonn in June, focused on procedure and planning – making the Accra Climate Change Talks the first conference dedicated to actual climate issues.
The political obstacles are formidable. Affluent countries are resistant to policies that may pose an economic burden, while developing economies fear policies that will hinder growth. “Presenting concrete ideas and submitting real substance will be the benchmark for credible leadership in Accra,” says Kim Carstensen, Director of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

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Can a Beauty Company Help the Planet?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

Aveda%20Cosmetics.JPGAveda, the beauty company owned by Estee Lauder, recently launched a bottle cap recycling program after a survey it conducted revealed that most caps end up in landfills. The company asks salons and stores that sell its products to partner with them by saving caps, and in turn it uses the caps to make new ones.
“Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program was created to help combat the devastating effects of plastic cap pollution – and to increase awareness around this critical issue,” said Chuck Bennett, vice president, Earth and Community Care, Aveda. “Recycling caps is a meaningful form of environmental activism. Every cap we prevent from becoming trash is one less piece of plastic in the mouth of a baby seal, penguin or turtle.”

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Algae Farming Is Considered Viable Option By Top Policy makers

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

co2.jpgThe US government used to run a massive algae farming project between 1970 and 1996. Called the the Aquatic Species Program, the Department of Energy only closed the project down because the researchers involved concluded that algae were not cost competitive with petroleum. Yet times have changed. The oil price is three times as high now compared to when the project was aborted.
Algae farming has the future. More and more parties come around to this view. A recent conference of coal industry leaders highlighted strong interest in algae farming as a solution to curb carbon dioxide from coal fired power plants. It’s likely that in the future we’ll see the development of algae farms right next to many coal fired energy facilities throughout the US.

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Green Ad Networks Capture Captive Audiences, Ad Dollars

| Thursday August 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

adhere.jpg When it comes to online advertising these days, it’s all about targeting. As technology has allowed marketers to focus their campaigns more efficiently on those that they want to attract, niche ad networks have become a zeitgeist in the advertising world.
Ad networks are essentially conduits, connecting advertisers to a group of host sites. Yet the brilliance of ad networks serving specific and niche sectors is that they end up being mutually beneficial for both sides. In the case of the buyers, the “ability to precision-target niche audiences helps advertisers reduce wasted ad impressions,” according to a recent press release by ComScore ratings. On the other side of the coin, the ad networks allow those sites that may not necessarily generate enough traffic on their own to capture big name advertisers and parts of their budgets.

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Carbon Farming Test Plots in California Delta Set to Expand

| Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Twitchell Island in the California San Joaquin Delta shows promise with pilot carbon farming projectBefore the rush of humanity came to California in search of gold, the San Joaquin Delta was rich in peat soil and much of what is now farmland consisted of wetland and swamps. Mother nature’s own carbon sponge.

Over the past 150 years, levees built to “reclaim” the land for agriculture have allowed much of that rich peat soil to continually degrade, exposing it to wind, rain, and oxygen. Through persistent land alteration and unsustainable agriculture, the carbon has become “liberated” from the soil and much of the land to subside. In other words, a sinking delta consisting of denuded soil.

Some islands farmed in the delta are as much as 20 feet below the surface of the water, kept dry only by the network of levees.

A pilot project funded by the California Department of Water Resources completed in 2005 and a new “carbon farming” project spearheaded by the U.S. Geological Survey set to start next spring may help change both the environmental and climate implications of this soil erosion and subsidence while providing economic opportunity for farmers.

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Eco Cabs – Emissions and Fare Free Transportation

| Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 23 Comments

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Imagine you’re drunk. Toasted. No way you’re driving home. Too far to walk. No cash in your pocket, and the ATM card’s back at home. Then you see it. This little green bug of a vehicle, pulling up to you, and someone says, “Need a lift? We don’t charge.”
“Who are these people and what do they want?” you think. Or did you say that out loud? They proceed to tell you that they’re from Eco Cabs, a company that is providing these emissions free cabs, for free, courtesy the sponsor enveloping their vehicle, 7UP in this case.
On the ride home, you learn that your driver who is pedaling you home is not, in fact, bionic, but has the assistance of an electric motor to make carrying your sack of a body home easier. Wait, did they just call you a sack?

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Making Waves – World Water Week 2008

Tori Okner | Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

We are in the midst of World Water Week. The 2008 theme is “Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World with Special Focus on Sanitation.” World Water Week is a international conference focused on collaboration and the promotion of work that advances environmental and humanitarian development.
The United Nations proclaimed 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. With a focus on the Millennium Development Goals, the theme for World Water Week was chosen to draw attention to sanitation needs and the effect of poor sanitation worldwide. Goal seven – the goal of ensuring environmental sustainability- poses an enormous challenge, as do the sub goals, or target indicators. World Water Week highlights a target set by the MDG’s that calls for the reduction, by half, of the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

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Food & Beverage Companies Going Green

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress met in Moscow in April where the Carbon Action Plan was launched. The Plan provides beverage companies and their supplies with a common way to measure their carbon emissions.

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Blackspot – The Anti Label That Won’t Tolerate Greenwashing

| Tuesday August 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

blackspot.jpgGot a contrary eco product that needs branding/labeling? Why not try using an anti label? It’s free to use and you’ll get your marketing done via 100% open source principles.
The anti label is called Blackspot and anyone can use the logo; a black spot. Products you sell are not only branded under the world’s first truly open source label, but they’re also joining a product portfolio that’s almost 100% eco friendly/low on carbon output.
The people behind the Blackspot label are the organizers of the ever growing annual global BuyNothingDay at Adbusters.org. They represent a radical, no-compromise experiment, a total rethinking of capitalism from the ground up. People selling a Blackspot product tend not to talk of customers or clients but of ‚Äòparticipants shaping the social enterprise’.
The organization offers great tips for practically marketing your stuff. Blackspotters are offering their wares to the big players in Jujitsu style.

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Major Parties Agree On Global Biofuel Standard

| Tuesday August 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

rsb.JPGManufacturers and other parties involved with biofuels have agreed on a global green biofuel standard. The new standard hopefully will eradicate the controversy and confusion that surrounds biofuels at the moment. Its main guarantee is food security and signatories include BP and Shell.

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Wind Shmind: Google Invests 10 Million in Geothermal

| Tuesday August 19th, 2008 | 1 Comment

geothermal2.JPGThe investment will go toward so-called Enhanced Geothermal Systems. Whereas conventional geothermal technology relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam and hot water in the ground, EGS works by injecting regular unheated water into “hot basement rock” deep below the planet’s surface. This heated water is the forced through and rises to the surface where it can be mined for all its hot water glory (remember: heat is an untapped source of stored energy!)
The US Department of Energy likes the potential of EGS:

More than 100,000 MWe of economically viable capacity may be available in the continental United States, representing a 40-fold increase over present geothermal power generating capacity. This potential is about 10% of the overall U.S. electric capacity today, and represents a domestic energy source that is clean, reliable, and proven.

Yeah that sounds pretty good. Google.org blogs and youtubes about their brilliance.

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ClimatePULSE: Exporting China’s Emissions

| Monday August 18th, 2008 | 1 Comment

smog2.jpgA recent report from Carnegie Mellon University added numbers to our suspicions that a large portion of China’s emissions are from producing goods for export. 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 33% of China’s emissions, are the result of activities related to the production of export goods. With roughly 18% of Chinese exports going to the US, the US is indirectly responsible for about 6% of China’s emissions, or over 300 million metric tons of CO2.

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Radiohead’s Latest World Tour One Step Closer to Carbon Neutral

| Monday August 18th, 2008 | 2 Comments

The LED forest on Radiohead's current Carbon Neutral TourRadiohead isn’t the first band to tout their “greenness” lately or claim a “carbon free” operation while touring. Having some modest experience in this area (as I more fully describe an earlier post called The Sustainable Circus), I’ve always been a little dubious about such claims. 

Radiohead’s leader, Thom Yorke, is more than a little dubious. Saying that the profligate energy use of the average rock show and tour is “ridiculous”, Yorke threatened back in 2006 to quit touring to far-flung locales unless steps were taken to reduce carbon emissions.

“The way that tours are structured now and the way it works is a ridiculous consumption of energy … I would consider refusing to tour on environmental grounds, if nothing started happening to change the way the touring operates.”

Unlike other bands, Radiohead hasn’t used carbon offsets for their touring and concert emissions because Yorke is skeptical that such schemes do any good. At least as a primary means of achieving anything approaching  “carbon neutral”.

An article in the July issue of Lighting & Sound America profiles Radiohead’s current Carbon Neutral World Tour, showing how the band and its production team has taken the concept of carbon neutral in the music touring industry one step further through innovative use of show technology and new ways of addressing the issue with fans.

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The Fight Against Factory Farms Ramps Up

Tori Okner | Monday August 18th, 2008 | 4 Comments

pig.jpgDespite mounting evidence of the myriad negative effects of factory farming, it remains the foundation of animal agribusiness. The indecent nature of the enterprise is manifested in numerous abusive practices and increasingly, activists are looking to the courts and legislatures to demand change. Is government intervention necessary to enact corporate responsibility?
A unanimous victory in the New Jersey State Supreme Court suggests that agribusiness need to account for considerations beyond the bottom line. The non-profit Farm Sanctuary led a coalition of humane organizations, farmers, veterinarians, environmental and consumer groups that recently won a precedent setting victory against factory farms. Factory farms, according to the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, are “characterized by confinement of the animals at high stocking density, often in barren and unnatural conditions.” While federal and state legislation outlaw animal cruelty, in most cases these laws do not protect animals slaughtered for food. Are industry giants manipulating the spirit of the law?

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Eco-friendly Sri Lankan Factories

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday August 18th, 2008 | 4 Comments

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The garment industry is a major contributor to climate change. Many of the clothes Americans and Europeans wear come from Sri Lanka. Three members of Sri Lanka’s Garments Without Guilt campaign, which champions the rights of workers in the Sri Lankan apparel industry, constructed eco-friendly factories: Brandix, MAS Intimates, and the Hirdaramani Group.
Brandix, the largest Sri Lankan apparel exporter in 2007, converted a 30 year old factory into an eco-friendly plant, dubbed the Green Plant. The plant has reduced the company’s carbon footprint by 77 percent (from 2,076 metric tons to 484 metric tons). Located in Seeduwa, the Green Plant is Sri Lanka’s first converted plant. It was built in collaboration with British company Marks & Spencer.

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