Powershift 2007 – Students Lobby for Bold Climate Change Legislation

| Sunday November 4th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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By Lorna Li
Climate change activism has taken to the streets this weekend. Saturday November 3rd was the National Day of Climate Action, which saw hundreds of student rallies on campuses across the nation.
On Monday, November 5th, 3,000 students will descend upon Capitol Hill for the largest youth lobby on global warming ever – Power Shift 2007. Tomorrow, students will demand of Congress a bold and comprehensive climate change legislation that will put America back on the path to a clean and just energy future.
On this day, these youth will deliver an action-oriented, concrete proposal to move our country forward, based on the comprehensive priorities of the 1Sky campaign:
1. GREEN JOBS NOW!
Create 5 million green jobs conserving 20% of our energy by 2015
2. CUT CARBON 80% BY 2050
Freeze carbon pollution levels now and cut at least 30% by 2020
3. NO NEW COAL
Enact an immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power plants

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What I want in a new home

| Sunday November 4th, 2007 | 2 Comments

1house.jpgIf I’m going to sign my life away on a mortgage for freshly built house to live in; I want a house that is more than just a roof over my head, more than just a slapped together stick frame with some extras like granite counter tops a solid wood front door, and one tree with 50 square feet of grass as part of my up-grade package! How come these homes cost so much anyway?
I want a house that gives back, not just in terms of equity, but in terms of energy and healthy living. I want a house that I can leave the lights on all night without sweating over my next $200 power bill, or rest assured that the air inside my house is actually cleaner than the air outside of my house.
I think it’s about time people start demanding more ‘value’ for their money. If you buy a green home that is well insulated (not just to code) but really well insulated and designed with utility bill saving features like passive solar heating, solar power, tankless hot water heaters and/or solar hot water heaters, Autoclaved Aerated Concrete and/or ICF’s walls and low-e windows with energy and water conserving appliances, LED and fluorescent lights, and a water-wise landscape design with ‘sub-surface’ and/or drip irrigation system. I believe the value will not only increase exponentially over the next few years, but your utility bills are manageable, your life is less stressful and you can actually feel great about spending your hard earned money on a house you’re proud to call home.

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Pension Fund Looks for Increased Climate Change Disclosure

| Friday November 2nd, 2007 | 0 Comments

Business and Global WarmingThe consequences of global warming are becoming an increasingly important variable for institutional investors when assessing a company’s economic viability.

In a recent statement, Calpers (the California Employees’ Retirement System) said that voluntary disclosures from companies citing general “climate risk” in reports is not enough. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission was petitioned in September by Calpers and others to mandate disclosure of specific climate–related risks to facilitate a consistent and effective approach in analyzing a company’s true exposure to risk.

I am not an MBA or expert in business analysis. As a layman, what strikes me is the apparent disconnect between the insistence on the Bush administration that aggressive action on global warming endangers economic growth, while many in the private sector begin to acknowledge the dangers of inaction or, at best, ineffective action.  

Business may not always welcome government intrusion into their activities. But it seems that many businesses and investors are beginning to understand that choosing between economics and environmental concerns is most often a false choice and that leadership in effectively addressing global warming, from both business and government, is required to maintain true economic viability in the marketplace.

Tom Schueneman writes on environmental issues at GlobalWarmingisReal.com and Hugg.ca. He also publishes the HistoryBlogProject. 

 

 

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Ol’ McDonald had a Farm (Bill)

| Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 1 Comment

Farm%20Bill.jpe For most of this year, Congress has been debating what to include in the 2007 Farm Bill, but there is still time for you to contact your legislators and have an influence. This opportunity to shape what food is grown, how it is grown, who grows it, and who can afford to eat it only comes around once every 5 years! Farm Bill policy is controversial and it helps to understand why. Food & Water Watch’s Farm Bill 101 provides an easy-to-read 1-page history of the development of farm bill policy.

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“Design is the Future of Business”

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 0 Comments

cca.jpgCalifornia College of the Arts has launched an M.B.A. in Design Strategy that brings together design techniques and business approaches to encourage “meaningful, sustainable social change.” This new program is meant to provide students with applicable experience in creating/managing projects that create social and environmental value.
The marriage of design, business, and sustainability in one program is truly unique in scope and practice. Traditionally, business students go to business schools and design students go to design schools. When they meet in the workplace, designers and business professionals don’t usually “speak the same language.” To create products and services for the green economy, however, aligned strategies in usability and profitability are more important than ever.

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New Urbanism Meets Goldrush Wisdom

| Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 0 Comments

I recently moved to the town of Grass Valley, California , population ~12,000. You’d be in good company, not knowing where it is. It is approximately an hour Northeast of Sacramento, the same west of Tahoe. Coming from living in Oakland, this Gold Rush era town surrounded by trees, rivers, farms and ranches feels small, livable, and beautiful. And yet, something is afoot: With this charm comes increased population growth. And I am part of that. To some, I am the “enemy,” changing the face of this once primarily rural place into what they consider increasingly “urban,” though from my eyes it looks suburban, with the Burger Kings and KFCs.
So it’s ironic that the source of some very smart development, with an eye for sustainability, is a ranch. Loma Rica Ranch, to be precise. The ambitious owners of this 450 acre property could easily have gone the typical route, subdividing their property into tiny parcels, covering it in identical tract houses, making a tidy profit while congesting the roads, decimating the land, and obliterating the character of the area. There’s thousands from the ever sprawling Sacramento that would eventually, as it becomes fuller down south, see this as just fine.
Loma Rica Ranch has chosen a different, much more inspiring path:

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KACO Solar a Model for Sustainable Manufacturing and Business

| Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 0 Comments

Solor panelsA matter of conviction – and then of business”

KACO Solar, an international manufacturer of PV inverters announced on Wednesday their entire manufacturing process produces a net zero in carbon emissions.

The announcement was aimed to stress the dedication KACO’s German parent company, KACO Garaetetechnik GmBH, has toward sustainable manufacturing processes and carbon emission reduction. KACO’s US operation works out of a “green office” in San Francisco’s Presidio.

As well as using solar power for their manufacturing, KACO also utilizes a co-generation wood chip biofuel plant to produce hot water and heat, without any CO2 emission.

All manufacturing takes place in Germany, where strict controls can be maintained. KACO encourages its employees to use public transportation and provides bicycles and electric cars to get around between the three German facilities KACO operates (in the same town).

A good overview of KACO’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing and “doing well by doing good” is presented in this video.

President Ralf Hoffman is the driving force behind KACO’s commitment toward sustainable business practices. His company is an example of how industry can employ sustainable business and manufacturing processes, encourage a greener lifestyle for its employees, and offers solutions that other businesses can follow when developing their own sustainable business model.

As Hoffman says, “It’s not just what you do, but how you do it”.

 

Tom Schueneman writes on environmental issues at GlobalWarmingisReal.com and Hugg.ca. He also publishes the History Blog Project

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Amory Lovins Outlines the Plan for Efficiency

| Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 0 Comments


Also featured on this episode is Ian Schraeger talking about success in the hotel business.

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Thinking Ahead: Wisconsin Shifts to More Local Food Production

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday November 1st, 2007 | 1 Comment

tomotos.jpgHow do we start to shift from large-scale, carbon-intensive, agribusiness produce to locally-produced fruits and vegetables in our grocery stores? The Wisconsin legislature thinks it knows how. They recently created a plan to encourage 10% of its annual 20 billion dollar food expenditure to come from regional farmers. $600,000 over the next two years is slated for the development of a public-private partnership that will mainly go to helping local farmers market their products effectively to large supermarket chains.
How will this partnership work? The Wisconsin government intends to hire marketing professionals and provide grants to enable small farmers to develop distribution channels. Apparently, local produce doesn’t automatically “sell itself.”

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Green Zebra Spreads its Stripes

| Wednesday October 31st, 2007 | 0 Comments

gzebra.jpgLike a fine bottle of organic wine, the Green Zebra guide seems to get better with age. Okay, this 2008 version represents only the second San Francisco edition but it marks an improvement over numero uno. We must not be the only ones into this whole Green money saving coupon thing as the Zebra spread its stripes to Marin County and the Peninsula.

We like the opening section that that details some of the non-sustainable dangers that lurk in beauty products, the absurdity of drinking bottled water, and how to judge a green business. They kept and updated the sustainable seafood chart so for now we’ve nixed the imported shrimp right off the barbie.

We’re all about the Green Zebra support of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance that helps bring Green awareness to various city schools. This version appears to have even more emphasis on restaurants that have sustainable practices and support local growers. Those into hard number will appreciate that they used the same 98% post consumer New Leaf printing and increased the number of money saving pages from 320 to 352.

Enough chat, we’re off to redeem our fair trade, organic coffee coupon.

Thanks to Keith over at Greenerati for this post.

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Home Energy Weak Spots

| Wednesday October 31st, 2007 | 0 Comments

money%20wondow.jpgAccording to a recent study commissioned by JELD-WEN, a manufacturer of windows and doors, nearly 26 percent of homeowners say what they dislike most about their existing windows and doors is that they are drafty and inefficient. As the temperature outside drops, it’s hard not to notice that these inefficiencies quickly turn into rising utility bills.
As much as half of the energy used in a home goes toward heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Homeowners who replace single-pane glass windows with ENERGY STAR qualified products can save $125 to $450 on energy costs annually, according to ENERGY STAR.
To maximize a home’s energy efficiency, consider the following tips:

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Ray Anderson – Excerpt from “The Corporation”

| Wednesday October 31st, 2007 | 0 Comments


In this video, Ray Anderson talks about externalities and how his company, Interface Carpet, developed its environmental vision.

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On Halloween Congress Gets the Spooky Truth about Fuel Efficieny

| Wednesday October 31st, 2007 | 2 Comments

by Lorna Li
On Halloween, the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency is sending out “Spooky Truth” Trick or Treat bags to every member of Congress, urging them to approve strong fuel efficiency standards for the 2007 Energy Bill.
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In June, the Senate passed the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard – a strong, bipartisan compromise to raise mileage for cars and light trucks to an average of 35mpg by 2020. This is the first Congressional increase in fuel efficiency in 30 years, and yet the auto industry is pushing a proposal which would weaken and delay the Senate compromise. Their “tricky” proposal would only require 32 mpg by 2022 and actually cap American innovation on mileage improvements at 35mpg. The spooky truth is that just a few years and a few miles do matter when it comes to making a difference for America.
Here are some comparisons between the 35 mpg Senate CAFE standard and the Auto Lobby Proposal. In 2020:

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Are BioFuels a “Crime Against Humanity?”

| Tuesday October 30th, 2007 | 2 Comments

An ethanol plant in an autumn cornfieldJean Ziegler gave a harsh assessment on biofuels at a UN press conference on Friday, calling for a 5–year moratorium on pure biofuels. Ziegler is the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for the United Nations.

With more than 850 million people in the world chronically hungery, Ziegler said it was a “crime against humanity” to, essentially, turn food into fuel.

The statistics on world hunger tell a grim story. At least 25,000 people die from hunger or its consequences every day.  In the time it takes you to read this blog post, as many as 100 or more people may very well starve to death. But to what extent can biofuel production be attributed to world hunger, or increasing the already stark realities of poverty and starvation?

Is Ziegler’s statement appropriately damning or irresponsible and unfair?

Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association thinks the later, calling it a “travesty” to make such statements in public and calling for Ziegler’s immediate resignation.

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Renewable Energy: Is it in Your Investment Portfolio?

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday October 30th, 2007 | 1 Comment

solar%20panel2.jpgThe global market for wind energy grew by a staggering 32% in 2006 and 41% in 2005. Meanwhile the U.S. solar photovoltaic market grew by 33% last year despite supply chain constraints, but if you live in California, this may seem like a modest estimate to you. That landscape of energy production is shifting, creating some green investment opportunities (in both meanings of the word green). The Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy fund (GAAEX) for example has a year-to-date return of 35.75% as of September 30th, while the New Alternatives fund (NALFX) has a 31.6% year-to-date return as of September 30th. Calvert launched the Global Alternative Energy Fund (CGAEX) in June and has experienced a 15.6% return.
One downside to these mutual funds is that their fees are pretty high. The A shares of NALFX and CGAEX have a purchase charge of 4.75% as well as an annual operating expense of between 1.25%-1.85%. The GAAEX however does not charge a purchase charge and has an operating expense just below 2%.

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