AskPablo: Is the IPCC wrong on sea level rise?

| Monday October 29th, 2007 | 2 Comments

sea-level.jpgDespite its name, Greenland is anything but green (which I can appreciate since my name is also a bit misleading because I am not even remotely Hispanic — I was born in Germany…And no, you may not AskPablo about this, ask my mom). In another bit of irony you will also find that Iceland is more green than icy (which makes me think that perhaps there is a Spaniard out there with a really good German name like Fritz, Dieter, or Wolfgang…). This week the decidedly French Jacques asked me about sea-level rise. Is it really possible for the oceans to rise by 20 feet if the entire Greenland ice sheet were to go away?

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Hunter Lovins Interview – What is Natural Capitalism?

| Friday October 26th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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The New Generation of Green on Campus – The Sustainable College Movement

Shannon Arvizu | Friday October 26th, 2007 | 1 Comment

bwog%20fall%202007%20016.jpgThe recent release of the 2008 College Sustainability Report Card, produced by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, shows that two-thirds of all institutions improved their sustainability endeavors this past year. The areas in which they improved the most were in: the appointment of “green” administration, the use of renewable energy, green buildings, food and recycling, and transportation.
Walking on many college campuses today, you will now find Fair Trade coffee, organic food, hybrid campus cars, sustainability departments, and energy-efficient buildings. Of course, there are major differences between “College Sustainability Leaders,” who earned grades of an A-, and those who lag farther behind. In general, however, the report states that the recent developments on college campuses points to what amounts to a “green groundswell.”
Although some university administrators have been pro-active in this “groundswell,” I think that today’s students deserve most of the credit for the current green college movement. Having worked on a campus sustainability campaign at Columbia University this past year, I can personally say that the new wave of young environmentalists have mobilized in unique ways to get their administrators to think beyond placing recycling cans in the dorms.

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Less Mercury in CFL’s – GE is working on it.

| Friday October 26th, 2007 | 4 Comments

GE is working toward reducing mercury in CFL bulbsThe average Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. About enough to coat the tip of your ball point pen. Not much.

Here’s the thing. With everyone from Al Gore to the local “green blogger” down the street touting the advantages of the energy-efficient CFL’s as one simple strategy in stopping (er… mitigating) global warming, the sale of CFL’s is skyrocketing.

Multiply 5 milligrams by 150 million (the number of bulbs sold last year) and that’s a lot of ball point pen tips coated with mercury – if you catch my drift.

The main concern is that many of those 150 million bulbs aren’t being properly recycled, instead ending up in landfills. Now the mercury starts to become a real problem.

Of course, the best case scenario is that everyone using CFL’s (as we all should be, by the way) will properly dispose of used bulbs.

Alas, that isn’t likely to happen. Surely nobody reading Triple Pundit is going to simply through a CFL in the trash, but there are those that will.

As reported in the Environmental News Network, GE’s goal is to cut the amount of mercury in CFL’s to only 1 milligram.

That’s a very good thing, but no excuse to not properly dispose of a CFL – any mercury in the environment is a hazard.

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A juicy issue…

| Friday October 26th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Tetra PakHave you enjoyed some soy milk today? Perhaps a nice juice pack? Or added to your soup with a broth in a box? It’s so convenient, having packaging that allows you to not depend on refrigeration, and not be limited by short expiration dates. Most of those packages are created by Tetrapak. They seem benign, these aseptic packages, keeping the germs at bay, and storing well for another day.
And yet, there’s a problem: To get this level of non refrigerated packaging, it requires layering multiple materials upon one another, including cardboard, polythene, and aluminum. Add to this the plastic spout at the top, yet another material, and you’ll find that recycling these is beyond the means and willingness of most places.
According to this article, in Germany people must pay to dispose of them. Perhaps this is why some people have taken to bringing them to Tetrapak itself to recycle them. But even here, it only gets 70% of the particles, and with the popularity of these, it adds up quickly. What to do?

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Free Beer? Miller/Coors’ Sowed Wild Oats is less threatening as Whole Duopoly

| Friday October 26th, 2007 | 2 Comments

beer032.jpgSeems like Miller and Coors have spent enough time together in line at the keg, that they are threatening to tie the knot.
Will The FTC sue to prevent a Miller/Coors wedding? It would seem ridiculous to leave an emerging beer duopoly with 80% of the U.S. market unchallenged in light of the recent challenge to Whole Foods buying Wild Oats. Yet for some reason, the FTC wants to re-open the Wild Oats/Whole Foods case.
On the one hand, we have two relatively small grocers whose brand is built with a healthy/organic slant, together controlling less than 10% of the U.S. grocery business; on the other hand, the number two and three brewing giants, controlling 29% of the U.S. beer market between them. Hmm, which is more threatening to the American consumer – actually being able to buy decent healthy food in most population centers from a well-run company, or 79% of the beer market being controlled by two companies?
I suspect the merger will go through with much less fanfare than the Whole Foods/Wild Oats Combo, and SAB Miller-Molson-Coors will join Anheuser-Busch in an industry with more hyphens than competitors.
Certain pundits will no doubt tell us that the average beer consumer will probably benefit from the duopoly, as the FTC regulators will probably benefit from the brewing lobbyists’ free beer.
Why? Perhaps because Miller and Coors pack two powerful weapons: top notch lobbyists and a bottomless keg.
Maybe this type of discrimination is prompting Whole Foods to join an organic lobby.

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World Series Going Solar

| Thursday October 25th, 2007 | 0 Comments

The 103rd World Series is here, the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies both swinging at a shot to become the next world champs. So what does this have to do with green business?
It has to do with Coors Field, home to the Rockies, which happens to be the first stadium to harness the Sun’s energy through its solar power system dedicated to the scoreboard. While the Rockies are making steps toward going green the solar installer is capitalizing on the publicity that the World Series has to offer. Independent Power Systems is offering a free solar system to any player that hits the scoreboards solar panels during the series. The details:
The 9.89-kilowatt solar array will produce over 14,000 kilowatt hours of energy, enough to power the Rockpile LED board entirely. In the tunnel below the system, a flat-panel monitor will display the real time energy consumption of the scoreboard as well as the real time energy production from the solar unit. An educational display at the park will also highlight this system and how it works providing much needed public awareness for the benefits and value of going solar. So hats off to the Rockies with this fine addition to the green industry and to their stadium!!

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Sustainable Coffee & Agriculture Helping Rebuild in Rwanda

| Thursday October 25th, 2007 | 2 Comments

coffeebike.jpgWhen I think of Rwanda, I think of two things: The genocidal political-tribal conflict in which some 800,000 died and the plight of endangered mountain gorillas that the dedication of American zoologist Diane Fossey made known around the world. More than a dozen years after the horror of the former, a host of individuals and organizations are trying to rebuild a society and an economy.
As it turns out, Rwanda has some prime coffee growing regions and a tradition of cultivating old “heirloom” Bourbon coffee berries on small private farms. One problem the local farming cooperatives face is getting their coffee berries to processing and transshipment stations as quickly as they can to ensure the best quality possible.
Lacking money to purchase vehicles and draft animals due to lack of fodder, farmers’ ingenuity led them to build bikes and carts from wood, rubber, and odds and ends like duct tape. Needless to say, pushing 300 pounds of coffee berries on a 50-pound wooden bike 5 to 10 kilometers is a bit cumbersome…and tiring, points out Jay Ritchie, former program manager for the Rwanda Coffee Bike Program and SPREAD (Sustaining Partnerships to enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development), a five-year USAID project lead by Texas A&M University.

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BSR Conference Thoughts from Keith Rockmael of Greenerati

| Thursday October 25th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Those of you who think we have it bad with the tap water here in San Francisco might think twice after attending one of the more
thought provoking sessions at the 2007 BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) Conference here in San Francisco. The panel of John Frazier, Director of Considered Chemistry and Environment for Nike; Pascale Guiffant with the SUEZ company; and Chris Jochnick director at Oxfam, led the environmental session “Green Human Rights: Do Water and Climate Count?” and brought about Paul Hawken-esque issues about water rights tied with human rights.

Oil seems to be on everyone’s mind but good old H2O might be more of a future issue. Even those waiting for the ice caps to melt might think twice when seeing how much corporations pollute that water. The panel tied together ideas how human rights and climate change can be tied to water. Even now the UN only recently started to realize that water can be recognized as a human issue. One problem is that most of the private sector doesn’t cover the local populations’ right to a healthy environment.

We applaud Frazier’s opinion that Nike should talk more about what
they are doing on the environmental side as opposed to how to dunk a basketball. Nike has their new Green shoe and they continue to work on a “Considered Index” that will measure the VOCs and other harmful elements in their shoes. Nike, which used to be a poster child for non-Green companies, seems to be taking a Green Shaq size step forward. We say, “Just Green It.”

***

Keith is a editor of Greenerati.com

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Goodwill Revolutionizing Used Clothing

| Thursday October 25th, 2007 | 7 Comments

home-07-1018-whitefrog.gif.gifBuying used clothing is a great way to go green and get an interesting wardrobe at the same time. But it’s still hard to get the mainstream to accept it. Goodwill has never been sexy. That may be about to change.
The venerable charity has teamed up with the founder of Joe Boxer to launch a new line of used-clothing stores called William Good. The first store opens November 5th in San Francisco and is expected to spread. Not only will the clothing be recycled, “The floor of the shop is made from vinyl record albums, the paintings on the wall of clowns and dogs are found art. The racks will be made out of books – they get a lot of books at the Goodwill. We’ll just stack them up in two rows and run a bar across it, and that’s where we’ll hang the clothes.”
More info on SFGate.

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Too Late for Global Warming – 450 Parts Per Million is History – Now What?

| Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 12 Comments

hurricane-2.jpgI don’t usually like to sulk in the doom and gloom of impending or imagined global catastrophe, but this landmark Christian Science Monitor article deserves a lot more attention that it’s getting.
In brief – a UN report is soon due out that shows greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere is now in excess of 450ppm – the threshold which may provoke an irreversible warming trend. The worst thing about it is we reached that number faster than we thought was possible and are not even close to turning it around. As recently as last month, publications were still reporting the 450ppm number as a relatively distant fate we had a chance to avoid.
So now what?

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Cost of Southern California Fires to Top $1 Billion – What Role Do the Santa Ana Winds and Global Warming Play?

| Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Fires rage in southern California. What role does global warming play?Losses the raging wildfires in San Diego county alone are expected to be at least $1 billion dollars.

With 1,500 homes destroyed and more than 500,000 people displaced, President Bush has declared the region a disaster area with many drawing comparisons with Hurricane Katrina (in terms of huge natural disasters – not necessarily the part about Bush’s response).

The fierce and feared Santa Ana winds have borne much of the blame for the unrelenting fires. But as Governor Swarchenegger almost offhandedly mentioned on national television yesterday, global warming may likely have a hand on the number and intensity of the fires.

Wait a minute, we’re going to blame the Santa Ana Winds on global warming?

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The California Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Credit System Makes Electric Cars Affordable

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 2 Comments

tesla-car.jpgContrary to the title of the documentary released last year (“Who Killed the Electric Car?”), the electric car is alive and well. Independent car companies like Tesla Motors and Phoenix Motorcars have demonstrated that all-electric battery vehicle technology is feasible, sexy, and (almost) affordable. While the Tesla Roadster is still out of most people’s price range at $98,000, the Phoenix Sports Utility Truck will be available for fleet purchase in 2008 for $35,000 ($45,000 – $10,000 CA State ZEV tax refund).
How can an independent car manufacturer offer such a great deal on an electric vehicle? The Phoenix actually costs around $130,000 to manufacture, so why are they selling the vehicles to city governments and taxi services for less?

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Bamboo: A Smart Flooring Alternative

| Wednesday October 24th, 2007 | 6 Comments

black%20brushed%20bamboo.jpg
Bamboo is inexpensive, available in a variety of styles and is a renewable resource. Bamboo flooring is similar in appearance to hardwood but is even more durable in terms of scuffing, wear and expansion. Bamboo is harvested in plantations that take only 3-6 years to reach maturity. Although still not widely used, it is perhaps the most efficient material for flooring.
How do bamboo floors compare with other hardwood floors?
There are three common types of bamboo floors. Horizontal & vertical bamboo flooring is harder than Oak hardwood. Strand Woven bamboo flooring is harder than the most expensive Brazilian Walnut. An added bonus is bamboo flooring is actually less expensive than hardwood! A common problem with bamboo is expansion due to high humidity; this problem can be avoided if the flooring is allowed to acclimate for no less than 72 hours.
How is it made? Fresh & mature bamboo clums are split and flattened lengthwise into strips of equal dimensions. These are processed & kiln dried before being pressed against each other and glued under high pressure to form raw planks. From here it is finished in a variety of ways.
Is bamboo environmentally friendly?
In most cases bamboo is specially cultivated and harvested, without damaging the ecological system of renewal. Every year the parent bamboo plant develops new stems, so the stems can be harvested after a few years in a mature plantation without decreasing the size of the forest. Not all bamboo is environmentally friendly however, in some cases toxic glues and surfacing compounds are used so be certain that the product was manufactured in accordance with the E1 safety and emission standards.

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Cap and Trade, Carbon Tax, and the Aspirations of Government

| Tuesday October 23rd, 2007 | 2 Comments

Cap and trade, carbon tax, or aspirations?On hearing that the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) just named Jack Cogen, CEO of Natsource, as the their new chairman, I decided to do some research on the organization and the concept of emissions trading in general. What follows is a quick synopsis.

The IETA fully supports the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Based on this framework the IETA’s vision aims toward an ultimate objective of carbon emissions reduction and climate stabilization through a global “gas market” established with the use of market-based mechanisms such as “cap and trade”. 

Working with government in establishing effective policy and guidelines is an essential component of any global carbon market and the IETA supports the principal objectives of the Lieberman-Warner proposal for climate change legislation set forth on August 2nd.  An open letter outlining the IETA’s position and concerns on the proposal is available in pdf format here.

While it remains the position of the Bush administration to oppose any cap and trade plan, instead focusing on “aspirational goals” over mandatory mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases, a well structured cap and trade program, as proposed by Lieberman-Warner and generally supported by the IETA, offers a realistic market-based solution to greenhouse gas emission reduction.

But what are the choices other than the simply rhetorical and a “global gas market” through cap and trade?

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