Defunct oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico may soon see another use as Fish Farms, according to CNN. Despite the widely publicised health and environmental problems associated with certain fish farms (BBC), the project has potential as a major boon to business and diet. If poorly managed, however, it could be just another filthy feed-lot.
Partially funded by the Canadian government, Drake Landing Development is building a 52-home solar powered community in freezing Alberta of all places. The solar system will harvest the sun’s rays in summer and use them to heat homes in winter. “This system significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrates the importance of using clean, renewable energy sources,” Tommy Banks, a Canadian parliamentarian. Read more in Reuters
It’s a funny question that many would answer as “infinite”. But putting a price tag on some of the “ecosystem services” that the planet provides is a good way of understanding exactly how valuable they are, and what it might cost us to replace them. It’s also a way to quantify the costs of business externalities such as pollution. One of Hunter Lovins’ favorite anecdotes: If the $200 Million Biosphere II project wasn’t enough to provide clean air for 8 people, what’s the value of a system that does it daily for 6 Billion?
EarthTrends has a good article with some more details here. The current estimated value of Earth’s ecosystem services: $33 Trillion, or almost double the global GNP.
While we’re on the subject of shipping pollutants, Evergreen International has been charged with two dozen felony dumping charges for discharging oil into the Columbia River. The Department of Justice report also charges the company with repeatedly covering up the operation. A plea bargain has resulted in a record $25 Million fine being levied against the firm.
JetBlue, the perky startup airline from JFK is enjoying success while other airlines falter. What’s the secret? A lean business plan, fleet commonality, and deep pockets are a great start. But CEO David Neeleman’s personal experiences living in a Brazilian Favela (slum) have lent him a successful management style that might be even more important. Corporate policy is more egalitarian tham most, Neeleman himself serves drinks on flights, and there’s only one class of service. Worthwhile Mag has more to say. An original interview is in this month’s Harvard Business Review – requires payment to read.
Weblogs and other media have been talking about the resurection of sailing vessels for a week or two now, starting with “skysails” and now the extraordinary “Orcelle”, by scandanavian firm Wallenius Wilhelmson. It’s completely hypothetical, but this monstrous transport would use a complex combination of sails, wave energy, solar panels and fuel cells to make its way across the sea, producing no emissions in the process.
Turns out the world’s shipping fleet is a lot dirtier than you might think – according to the Skysails website, “the toxic emission volume of the world trade fleet equals that of the United States.”
Sustainability as a key bottom-line issue for investors is poised to break through into the mainstream in 2005. Large corporations such as IBM, Dell, AMD and Electrolux already know what investors will learn in 2005, that “Sustainability is good for the planet and it can be good for shareholder wealth,” said Portfolio 21 co-founder Carsten Henningsen. Read in SustainableBusiness.com about the 3 sustainability trends to watch for in ’05.
Urban Hardwoods is a furniture company who harvest solely urban trees that have reached the end of their lives. The trees they harvest would otherwise wind up as mulch or be landfilled, a destiny unworthy of their quality. They’re also exploiting a niche for high end hardwood furniture that would otherwise require seeking out timber in the forest, an increasingly scarce resource. (via Worldchanging)
Beating government imposed regulations by more than 3-fold, Honda motors plans to cut CO2 emissions from its Japanese manufacturing plants by 30% from 1990 levels in a mere 6 years. The principal methods employed – switching to solar and liquified natural gas over petroleum. Financial Express article here.
The Australian government gave a financial boost to four environmentally and socially responsible food projects last month, awarding AUD$2.7 million in Food Innovation Grants to projects generating power from animal by-product waste, developing biodegradable starch-based food packaging, and creating healthier products from chocolate and potatoes.
The nature of the projects chosen supports Australia’s attempt to build the country’s reputation for implementing sustainable practices. Apply for the next round of grants by April 13th.
Thanks for making our first official two weeks a success! Triple Pundit is now officially launched and we really hope it becomes a valuable and fun resource for you. We’ve got only one request – tell your friends! If you have a blog, give us a post, and leave some comments here, we’ll happily wave back. Special thanks to shouts out from Sustainablog, Worldchanging, GreenBiz, Dave, Andrew, Tom… and everyone else.
One of the most important things about sustainable business, is knowing when to quit working. That’s why you won’t hear much from us over the weekends, we’re too busy hiking, biking, relaxing and restoring ourselves for another big week. Cheers.
Today’s Forbes reports that Energy 1 Inc. is working on a Florida hydrogen initiative to convert orange peels to hydrogen. Orange peels, which comprise a significant portion of Florida’s solid waste, release the hydrogen-rich gas methanol. The project involves harvesting this methanol and using it for energy at a model interstate rest stop. It’s a win-win for the state of Florida, as one of their primary waste forms is converted from trash to electricity. In the process, a road show is created for millions of motorists demonstrating the power of hydrogen.
In the 1960s, the United States made an unprecidented effort to put a man on the moon. We suceeded, and the emotional and economic benefits of that mission are still with us. Why not make a similar effort to liberate the country from oil dependance? The Apollo Alliance is a well coordinated effort to do just that, and create as many as 3 million jobs in the process. Oren Jaffe talks more about Apollo in the next post.
Over the past decades, the diverse environmental community has been collectively placed into a small and narrow box by conservatives. Now is the time, according to Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute, “to take a collective step back to rethink its strategy and tactics.”
The new term “enterprise environmentalism,” presents nature as the solution to social and economic problems not normally associated with the outdoors. “The first wave of environmentalism was framed around conservation, and the second around regulation. We believe the third wave will be framed around investment,” says Van Jones, co-founder of the Apollo Project. Read more from The Oregonian on the Apollo Alliance.
One never knows for certain how the world of tomorrow will shape itself. The closest we seemingly can come is peeking into the cutting edge technology of today. “Transmaterial” is a 186 page compendium of some of the most incredible designs in existence. Best of all, it’s available as a series of free PDF downloads.