Two Wheels Good

| Monday June 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

trek950.jpgIn Cambridge, MA, where I used to live, bike ridership is at record numbers, and growing. Up 70 percent in the last 5 years. Bike businesses in the area are booming.
Thank you, $4/gallon gas.
We in the sustainability movement often talk about sustainability’s “3 Legged Stool”–the social, economic and environmental goals that go hand in hand, are inextricably linked. If you have one but not the others, the thing eventually topples over.
Cambridge’s bike story is similar to Portland, Oregon’s, whose robust bicycle culture and the economy it supports give us another sustainability metaphor, this one with two-wheels. What started as a group of Portland cyclists committed to the environment and public health has morphed into something more interesting and powerful: a small but stout industry, with the jobs, tax dollars and storefronts to prove it, supporting and inspired by the city’s cyclists. It’s a great example of sustainability-in-motion, of social, economic and ecological values each supporting the other and revolving, like the wheels of my old Trek 950 mountain bike (equipped with beefy street tires for my former Cambridge, MA commute), in a positive, virtuous, dare I say it, cycle.

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The Lacey Act: Protecting American Wildlife

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday June 2nd, 2008 | 4 Comments

180px-Phasianus_colchicus_2_tom_%28Lukasz_Lukasik%29.jpgThe recently passed Farm Bill included an amendment to the Lacey Act which extends protection to plants and trees illegally harvested outside of the U.S. TheLacey Act, named after congressman, Rep. John Lacey, the Congressman who introduced it, and signed into law in 1900, authorized the Secretary of the Interior to restore “game and other birds…where where they have become scarce or extinct and to regulate the introduction of birds and animals in areas where they had not existed.”
U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said, “This critical provision gives the U.S. an important new enforcement tool to put a stop to the unfair competition brought on by the importation of illegally harvested wood and the products made from that wood. American timber and furniture jobs should not be undercut any longer by foreigners who deal in illegally harvested woods and pilfer timber profits from law-abiding citizens on our own soil.”

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Cities Around The Globe Halve Their Operating Budgets By Installing Energy Saving Lamps

| Monday June 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

echolon.jpgSeveral cities around the globe have begun replacing their regular, sodium, streetlights by low energy lamps. This way they typically save 40-50% on their city operating budgets, in some cases streets get safer and maintenance is also lower.

Take this; the total number of lamp posts in the top ten largest US cities is 4,424,361. These streetlights use an estimated 2,988,500,000 kWh of electricity annually. This produces the equivalent of 2.3 million metric tons of CO2 a year.
Now take this; using energy saving lighting easily reduces the kWh used by 50%, or savings of 1,494,250,000 kWh or 1,161,716 metric tons of CO2.

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Uncontacted Tribes of the Amazon in Danger

| Sunday June 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

Uncontacted tribes exist around the world and late last week the speculated existence of one group in the Amazon region was confirmed. The Brazilian Government has taken aerial photography of tribal peoples who live close to the Peruvian border in complete isolation from the modern world. The photograph shows Indians painted red and aiming longbows at the aircraft.
uncontacted%20tribes.jpgThis tribe forms part of a larger global community of uncontacted peoples whose isolation is under threat from modernisation. The Amazon region is home to approximately 60 of the world’s 100 uncontacted tribes.
The overflight at the Brazilian-Peruvian border was undertaken to confirm the presence of the tribe “to show they are there, to show they exist,” said Jos√© Carlos dos Reis Meirelles J√∫nior who works for FUNAl, the national foundation for Indians. Stephen Corry the director of Survival International commented about the recent photographs,

‚ÄòThese pictures are further evidence that uncontacted tribes really do exist. The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct.’

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Are Biofuels the Root Cause of Rising Food Prices?

| Saturday May 31st, 2008 | 4 Comments

Riots over food and fuel prices and supplies have broken out across western and northern Africa, in China, India, Pakistan and Mexico, as well as other countries around the world, posing real and substantial threats to civil order. Tens of thousands of fishermen in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal have gone on strike and are protesting in European capitals due to spiraling fuel costs.
Rapidly rising food prices and supply concerns have led many to point the finger of blame at biofuels production, along the way reigniting the debate about the net effect biofuels have on land use, the environment and carbon dioxide emissions.
As the EU considers cutting back its recently enacted biofuels targets, it seems that counter-arguments of biofuels proponents are being drowned out. Is this a case of the tail wagging the dog, or cow, perchance? And are these early portents of what is to come in other countries around the world as energy supplies continue tight, prices continue to climb and climatic conditions change?
Are biofuels the root, or even a signifcant, factor in rising food costs and supply shortages? Three other factors seem to be of much greater significance: rising oil, fuel and fertilizer prices; changing diets in rapidly growing urban populations in countries around the world – China and India in particular; and a changing climate, which is disrupting agricultural supplies.

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The Best Renewable Energy Source: Innovation in Action Part 2: GreenFuel – A Love Affair With Algae

| Friday May 30th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Algae bioreactor at APS Radhawk power plantContinuing where we left off from my post earlier this month with our exploration of Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn’s book Earth: the Sequel – The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming.

The book is about the the drive toward a new energy economy and the companies the are helping to clear the path. Companies like GreenFuel Technologies, founded in 2001 as the brainchild of Dr. Issac Berzin, a chemical engineer with a passion for algae.

Berzin first discovered the wonders of algae while working on a postdoctoral degree at MIT doing research growing algae in a small bioreactor for the International Space Station.

His work in the lab, prompted by a chance visit from a Russian immigrant who made a fortune in newly privitized Russian oil companies, got him to thinking what other uses algae could serve here on earth. All that led to the ultimate question for Berzin:

“Why expensively sequester CO2 when it can be profitably recycled?”

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Burgerville and Local Burger: Two Locally-sourced Burger Joints, Two Different Business Models

| Friday May 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

bvilleandlocalburger.jpgHere in Lawrence, KS, we have a special restaurant called Local Burger that serves local, organic, and natural fast food – burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes. Local Burger founder, Hilary Brown, and her restaurant have been featured by Outside, Gourmet, Bon Appetite, Vanity Fair, the Sundance Channel, Sprig.com, and elsewhere. Local Burger is loved by people and critics alike, including myself, for its unique business model. So when I heard about Burgerville, a burger chain with 39 locations in the Northwest that uses local and seasonal foods, I wanted to find out more.

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Green Careers and How to Find One

| Friday May 30th, 2008 | 8 Comments

globergreen.jpgAround the globe, people are seeking career changes to find environmentally responsible employment. This once niche market has become mainstream, where now you can find opportunities from a range of employers, in a range of fields, that are suitable to a diverse range of job seekers.
This rapidly expanding market has emerged for a range of reasons, such as the introduction of more stringent sustainability policies, commitment by national governments to international agreements as well as a growing conscience in business and society to address environmental and social concerns. Governments have implemented plans to reduce waste and energy use for example, while residents themselves are choosing to purchase products and services from environmentally friendly companies. Businesses, from local to global scales, are interested in responding to environmental and social issues, if for nothing more than to project a positive corporate image. With compounding factors such as these, the green career sector is booming.
This trend leads to the question, how do you find these jobs, who can apply for them and how can you be best prepared to work in the industry?

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Plugged In: The End of the Oil Age

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday May 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment

pluggedin.jpg The greening of the transportation sector is rife with conflict. Frequent debates occur over the benefits and disadvantages of several emerging technologies. Which has better energy-efficiency? Hydrogen or battery electric? Which is more feasible in the short-run? Plug-in hybrids or biodiesel? Which is more eco-friendly? Hybrids or compressed natural gas? The answers to these questions depend on who one asks. Interest groups, auto and oil giants, entrepreneurs, and consumer-activists all offer varying opinions on how we can best meet the climate challenge through the adoption of new vehicle technologies.
A new book, Plugged In: The End of the Oil Age, provides what I have found to be the most comprehensive, well-researched, succinct, and up-to-date source yet on the topic. Published by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and authored by Dr. Gary Kendall, a former petroleum industry scientist, the book is available for free and downloadable from this site.

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Exxon Squares Off With Rockefellers, Shareholders

| Thursday May 29th, 2008 | 7 Comments

exxon-rextillerson.JPG Last week, 3P reported that a “shareholder revolt” was fomenting against the leadership of ExxonMobil, and yesterday marked the showdown between the two groups at the annual meeting in Dallas. Characterized as “bruised, but victorious” by the Guardian.co.uk, Exxon’s chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson, emerged from the meeting with his leadership intact as the revolt failed to capture full support from shareholders. Tillerson, though is viewed as being more progressive than his predecessor, Lee Raymond (who in 2005, dismissed alternative fuels as “inconsequential“), is nonetheless perceived as being resistant to investing in alternative energy. And despite the support of over 70 descendants of the Rockefeller dynasty, including great-great-grandson, Peter O’Neill, and great-granddaughter, Neve Rockefeller Goodwin, the resolution to divide Tillerson’s power only received 39.5% of the shareholder vote.

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ALC-EU Summit, Peru 2008

| Thursday May 29th, 2008 | 0 Comments

logocumbre_2.jpg On May 14th, as the French coastal city of Cannes swelled with celebrities, with heavyweights such as Spielberg, Polanski, and the like littering the streets for the famous annual film festival, the streets of Lima experienced an equally similar and momentous influx of its own. On the same day, heads of state from Latin American, Caribbean, and European Union countries met in Peru for the ALC-EU Summit, the fifth meeting of its kind, to discuss bi-regional development. And the big names there took the form of Merkel, Lula, and Calderon, to name a few.
The summit, which was first held in Rio in 1999, was formed with the intent to create a forum to discuss issues of poverty, equality, and social justice in Latin American countries. This year’s summit, however, had a slightly different slant and beyond poverty, focused on the environment, specifically sustainable development, climate change, and energy policy.

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How Equity Analysts Valuate Global Warming Impact On Companies

| Thursday May 29th, 2008 | 0 Comments

verdantix.gifEquity analysts divide into three distinct groups based on their climate change perspective, according to a report from independent research firm Verdantix. The survey, entitled Equity Analysts Link Climate Change And Company Valuation shows that there are virtually equally sized groups of believers, sceptics and cynics.

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Triple Pundit Readers Get Free Tickets to Dwell on Design LA

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday May 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

dwell.gifIf you’ve ever wanted to green your home or workplace, then you’ll want to be at Dwell on Design LA on June 5-8, 2008. Dwell is hosting a conference and exhibition that brings together everyone who is anyone in the sustainable design field. Here is your chance to talk with architects, designers, and other trade professionals to get step-by-step advice on how to create an eco-friendly home or building. The public will also have the opportunity to tour 16 nearby homes that embody the “living lightly” aesthetic.
Triple Pundit readers get a free access pass to the exhibition floor which includes 200 exhibitors and “an entire neighborhood of full-scale pre-fab structures completely landscaped and furnished by Dwell.” To register, click here. For your free ticket, enter code: BDODEC. For a discounted conference ticket ($50 off), enter code: GRP22SP.

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World’s Largest Carbon Market Facilitates Pollution

| Wednesday May 28th, 2008 | 8 Comments

carbontrading.jpgAn article in the Guardian newspaper reveals that billions worth of ‘clean’ investment on the world’s largest carbon offsets market ends up polluting the environment. The article cites researchers who’ve reviewed the participating companies in the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). They issued a report which seriously undermines the credibility of the CDM.

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21st Century Grid: Smart Buildings Bring Demand Side Management into the Picture, Part One

| Wednesday May 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sky-pylon_small.jpg Forecasted growth in electricity demand, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the steep rise in fossil fuel prices continues to shake up and transform electric utilities and power producers in the U.S. and Europe.
Much attention is being paid to the pressing need for power generation and infrastructure investment as industry members and government agencies try to map out a pathway that leads towards a smarter, 21st century grid.
With buildings accounting for an estimated 39% of total energy demand building smarter, “energy-aware” buildings – and even more importantly retrofitting existing structures – can, and is increasingly playing a major role in the transition
Demand side management – a new wrinkle brought about with the rise of distributed power generation options, integrated, real-time facility control and networking systems, automated metering systems and feed-in tariffs for homeowners generating surplus electricity and feeding it back into the grid – has become another focal point.
Trade associations such as Lonmark International are playing a formative and pivotal role in the process, working actively, and worldwide, to foster and facilitate the transition by establishing open industry standards, such as ANSI/EIA 709 and IEEE-1473-L, and certfied electrical power management and distribution software systems, products and services. Lonmark’s executive director Ron Bernstein took time out last week to speak with Triple Pundit.

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