One Million Hybrids A Year – Toyota’s New Plan

Shannon Arvizu | Monday January 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Given last week’s surge in oil prices at the pump, more Americans can be counted on to explore hybrid vehicle options. Toyota plans to capitalize on this development by introducing a hybrid option for every model they make by 2010. Toyota President, Katsuaki Watanabe, recently made this announcement as part of Toyota’s plan to become a socially and environmentally responsible corporation.

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Salon.com to Publish Ask Pablo

| Monday January 7th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Thanks to readers like you, AskPablo has enjoyed overwhelming success over the last 66 weekly columns. Since we began tracking readership in April we have received over 50,000 unique readers with a peak day of over 13,000. From his early days blogging on Triple Pundit to the genesis of his own “Ask Pablo” column, Pablo has generated thousands of readers on and appearances in publications from DowJones MarketWatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Chicago Tribune, Fast Company, ENN, and TreeHugger.com.
Now we are pleased to announce a new validation of Pablo’s efforts to the list. Beginning next week, AskPablo will begin to reach an even bigger audience as a weekly column at Salon.com. Not only is this a coup for Pablo, but it’s a great validation for the appeal of common sense thinking about environmental issues and will undoubtedly bring in a huge new audience.
You will still be able to read Ask Pablo in the usual place on Triple Pundit (so don’t go anywhere, there will be excerpts and links), but it’s new official home will be be the venerable Salon.com
Congrats to Pablo on this new paid publishing position and kudos to everyone who read 3P to make it happen!

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What is the True Cost of Gasoline? $100 A Barrel?

| Monday January 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

100-dollar.jpgWe’ve done it. We’ve finally reached the psychologically important $100/barrel oil. The recent surge that got us there is more likely due to the plummeting dollar than other factors, but nonetheless will ultimately impact the price paid for gasoline at the pump. But even as the price goes higher, there are additional costs that are not paid at the pump. What are they, and who’s paying them?

In addition to the internalized cost of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel we must also consider the many significant externalized costs. Of these externalized costs some are internalized by tax-payers (oil industry subsidies, military patrols of oil shipping lanes, etc.) while others are left for the global population and future generations to bear (climate change damages, global health effects, etc.).

Let’s take 2005 numbers because that’s what I have available (the thought process is what matters):

The average US retail gasoline price during 2005 was $2.240. During that same time period the retail price of US No. 2 diesel (on highway) was $2.402. Additionally, the subsidized rate for agricultural (off highway) diesel was $1.65 in 2005. Since agricultural diesel is essentially the same as on-highway diesel (except for the addition of red dye), the US government (i.e. taxpayers) subsidizes $0.752 of every gallon ($2.402 – $1.65).

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Global Warming, What Global Warming? Part 2

| Monday January 7th, 2008 | 4 Comments

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In my Jan. 2 post, I brought up the issue of the evidentiary case for climate change and global warming, and how new scientific theories, particularly such far-reaching and profound ones, typically take decades, if not longer, to gain mainstream acceptance. While it appears that a majority of the lay public in the US intuitively finds reasons to agree with and accept it, whether or not global warming is taking place, and more particularly whether or not man-made carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are the primary agents accelerating the process, the issue is not yet settled within the scientific community.
It is clear from from U.S. Dept. of Energy data (see graph, Jan. 2 post), as well as that from other leading government and scientific organizations with access to our most accurate and extensive CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions data sets, that such emissions have increased dramatically since 1860. According to the best data available, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by approximately 25% since the beginning of the industrial age, from about 280 parts per million to over 370 parts per million. The largest increases occurred in the last decades of the 20th century, with CO2 now accumulating at an annual 2 ppm rate.
The most plausible and likely reason for this appears to be the rapid increase in man-made, or anthropogenic, emissions related to industrial activity and transportation. Man-made increases in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, along with changes in land use (clearing of forests for agriculture and development) stand out like a sore thumb as the most readily apparent large-scale change in carbon sources and sinks.
Climate science is relatively young and its methods and techniques new, however. Though evidence for accelerating global climate warming over this period has become sufficiently documented and explained to capture the attention and sway the opinion of political leaders and policy makers worldwide, whether or not anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is the cause has been even more hotly disputed.

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HP Expands Recycling Push in China

| Thursday January 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

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IT industry leaders are increasingly finding that going “green” is good business. In addition to increasing the energy efficiency of its operations and making use of more economically viable renewable power sources, companies such as HP are expanding their recycling programs.
HP operates recycling centers in more than 45 countries. In 2006, it recovered 187 million pounds of electronics globally, 73% more than IBM, its closest competitor, effectively closing the electronic product lifecycle loop. Having reached the 1 billion pound recycling mark in 2004 the company plans to double its recovery rate and hit a cumulative 2 billion pound target by year-end 2010.
Looking to do its part in rapidly industrializing China, HP in September announced that it would extend its recycling program beyond corporate customers to include consumers and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). “HP has established a network of 30-plus drop-off points nationwide where consumer/SMB customers can elect to return HP (hardware) products,” Jean-Claude Vanderstraeten, president, environment for HP Asia Pacific told Triple Pundit. “HP collects the returned products from the drop-off centers and recycles them. The program was launched last September and is being expanded.”

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Can Treasure Island Live Up to Plans to Make It the “Super-Green City of the Future”?

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday January 3rd, 2008 | 2 Comments

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San Francisco planners have decided to make Treasure Island a model of urban sustainability. For those of you unfamiliar with Treasure Island, it is an entirely man-made 400-acre property in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Originally built in 1939 from sea bottom, quarried rock, and loam, it is currently home to an abandoned naval base and a small number of low- and middle income residents. The new Treasure Island, however, is set to become a hotbed for eco-living. Check out the Treasure Island interactive city map that shows just what planners intend to do.
Although Triple P author Lexington Blood wrote about this project last month, I am wondering whether, in fact, the plans can really become a reality.

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The Long Tail Does Not Apply to Dead Trees

| Thursday January 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

deadtree.jpegThe Long Tail is one of the most interesting business concepts to come out of recent years – stating that in many markets there is more to gain from selling “less of more”. But that’s got nothing to do with this post. Chris Anderson, the concept’s originator, has an otherwise brilliant blog which seems to have woefully blundered last week. Chris proposes that the print magazine business is less carbon intensive than publishing online. It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to suspect there’s no way this could be true, but there are indeed enough variables to keep a calculator busy for a while if you really wanted to do a comparison. And I won’t belabor it here – take a look at his post to see the depth, or lack therof, that was considered, then look at the comments.
Everyone makes some bad assumptions from time to time, but the universal de-bunking in the comments makes me really happy. Many people in business use less-than thorough thinking to make decisions about their environmental footprint (among other things). If one of the leading thinkers around can do this, imagine how common it is.

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ShipGreen Offers Retailers a Web-Based Program to Offset Carbon Emissions from Shipping

| Wednesday January 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

ShipGreen allows retailers an easily integratable carbon offset programThrough the pioneering work of Dr. Cristiano Facanha of ICF International and Dr. Arpad Horvath of the University of California at Berkeley, ShipGreen.net now offers a web-based program that integrates with retailers’ online shopping carts, enabling consumers to easily – and accurately – offset the carbon produced from product life-cycle shipping emissions.

Facanha and Horvath’s combined experience in life-cycle assessment, supply chain, and freight transportation has allowed the pair to develop the most accurate algorithm yet possible in determining the carbon footprint of products from manufacture to delivery at the consumer’s door.

The program easily integrates with a retailer’s shopping cart, giving the customer the option to offset the carbon produced in shipping their purchases. Due to the accuracy of the algorithm developed by Facanha and Horvath, the average cost of an offset is only .29 to .49 cents. The modest cost may help bring some of the “almost greens” into the “bright green” category I spoke of in a previous post.

The offset programs funded through the program are verified in accordance with Kyoto Protocol requirements and, according to ShipGreen, to The Gold Standard (f)or the Climate, Community & Biodiviersity Alliance, taking into account cultural, environmental, social and economic issues”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Got An Idea for a Green Gadget?

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday January 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Humans are tool-makers. This, according to many in the sustainable business field, is our greatest asset for building an innovative and sustainable society.
While most of us read and write about the latest green inventions on the Triple P site, here is a unique opportunity to propose your own idea for a green gadget. A new design contest for the development of green electronics is now open as part of the Greener Gadget Conference in New York City, scheduled for February 1, 2008.

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Global Warming, What Global Warming?

| Tuesday January 1st, 2008 | 6 Comments

ppp023-main_walrus_portrait.jpg It’s easy to forget that many of what scientists and many laypersons now take as scientific givens – a heliocentric solar system, plate tectonics, evolution – initially faced fierce and strident opposition that persisted over decades if not centuries – and to this day remain outside the world view of large numbers of people. Such is the case when it comes to global warming and climate change, which has taken several decades – and sharp spikes in fossil fuels and commodities– to win the minds and hearts of what James Lovelock terms “scientific middle management” as well as a broader public.
That’s certainly not to say that there is unanimity in the scientific community or the broad population – as can be seen in some reader comments– when it comes to acknowledging that we are on the brink, or perhaps in the early stages of a global warming period and that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is the primary accelerant. And it remains very much in doubt as to whether or not governments, industry, NGOs, local communities and individuals can respond as widely or as urgently as may be necessary to even at least ameliorate the adverse effects.

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Solatubes: Power-free lighting solution

| Monday December 31st, 2007 | 0 Comments

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If you’re looking for an innovative and highly energy efficient daylighting system, Solatube may be the answer. These sunlight tubes combine art and science to provide beautiful and functional daylighting. This technology has actually been tauted as one of the most technologically advanced daylighting products available today. The combination of creative component integration along with a sleek design provides an abundance of pure, clean and natural light for any interior space.

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AskPablo: About Plastic Recycling

| Monday December 31st, 2007 | 47 Comments

50px-U%2B2673_DejaVu_Sans.svg.pngThis week I got the following question from Barb:

My community as well as all other surrounding cities here in Ohio only accept plastic with a #1 or #2 to recycle. Why can’t the other numbers be recycled? Is there any effort among businesses to use the most oft recycled plastics (i.e. only use #1-4) or an effort in the “green” community to encourage the use of a select type of plastic so that eventually it’s economically feasible for recycling centers to recycle all plastic containers?

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Taking on the E-Waste Problem

| Sunday December 30th, 2007 | 6 Comments

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Ongoing growth in volumes and disposal rates of electronic waste and scrap pose consumers, governments and industry with a growing threat to environmental health and safety. In its 2002 report “Exporting Harm,” the Seattle arm of the Basel Action Network revealed that about 80 percent of electronic waste brought to recyclers in the US is in fact not recycled here but exported to Asia, most likely China, where “it is melted down in primitive, environmentally damaging conditions including the cooking and melting of computer circuit boards in vast quantity.”
Five years on, governments, international organizations and IT industry leaders are now coming together to address what is a complex and intricate problem. In March, United Nations University, United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and a host of government agencies and leading electronics industry participants established the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) program, a global private-public sector cooperative that aims to “help shape government policies worldwide and address issues related to redesign and product life expectancy, reuse and recycling, and help build relevant capacity in developing nations.”
Consumers need to get on board. We are throwing away electronics at unprecedented rates. The US EPA estimates that only 12.5%, or 330,000 pounds, of the 2.63 million tons of e-waste disposed of in the US in 2005 was recovered for recycling. The other 87.5% wound up in landfills or was incinerated, posing environmental and human health risks as well as wasting a lot of increasingly costly, potentially recoverable metals and other materials.

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Hypercar: The car that pays you to drive it

| Saturday December 29th, 2007 | 4 Comments

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The car of the future is not only going to come standard with a hybrid powered engine; rather, the whole concept of a car from the ground up will be an entirely redeveloped mobility machine. A fine example is the Hypercar, a vehicle designed in reverse; featuring ultra light construction, hybrid-electric drive, low-drag design and efficient accessories to accomplish a 3 to 5-fold improvement on fuel efficiency. The major highlight? It can actually pay you to drive the car, imagine receiving a check at the end of each month just for driving a smart vehicle. The performance is poised to match current automobiles through comparable saftety, amenities and affordability.
The Rocky Mountain Institute is the creative “green” engineering think tank behind this promising concept. The model was developed by looking at today’s vehicles and re-thinking virtually every aspect. Through aerodynamics, advanced composites to achieve light weight coupled with strength and a power train that is more effective than any before, they just might have found the answer to gas-guzzling, air-polluting autos.

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Biodegradable Caskets: Composting your relatives?

| Friday December 28th, 2007 | 9 Comments

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Green goes under ground, six feet under and currently being spear-headed in Oregon by and environmentally-friendly funeral products dealer by the name of Cynthia Beal. She is the founder of The Natural Burial Co. in Portland, Oregon, the healthy way to recycle yourself and your casket upon taking the inevitable dirt nap. Cynthia herself wishes to become an Oregon cherry tree when she dies, and she has found a way to make that happen — her body, a burial, and her own biodegradable coffin.
These biodegradable coffins are the focal point of an eerie and surprising green business; perhaps Beal described it properly when she said “it is composting at its best.” Her shop officially opens in January, and kissing the storefront window is a United Kingdom sourced Ecopod, a biodegradable coffin constructed out of recycled newspapers. These kayak-shaped coffins are the focal point of the up and coming “natural burials,” which are formaldehyde-free, and buck the usual cement vaults, laminated caskets or chemical lawn treatments. The result, burials that are not harmful to the environment.

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