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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Pliable Cork Creativity

| Monday October 29th, 2007 | 0 Comments

cork%20chair.jpg Home decor has climbed aboard the green movement by directing its focus on eco-friendly furnishings and sustainable materials.This revolution by design is attempting to establish a cohesive relationship with the green lifestyle and attitude. From wall coverings to case goods, from flooring to upholstery, furnishings of sustainably harvested materials have taken hold.
A fine example of green furniture comes from Branch, where designer Daniel Michalik conceives contemporary designs in cork. Take a unique design, coupled with a renewable product and you get the Cortica Chaise Lounge. This lightweight, waterproof lounge chair has a clean modern look and better still, it was born with a green thumb. Thanks to these trend setters you might not have to look too far for many eco-friendly and creative designs in the furnishing industry in the years to come.

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Of Abalone, Drugs, Dwindling Populations & Economic Empowerment

| Monday October 29th, 2007 | 3 Comments

I have always found it interesting– and increasingly valuable– to explore our relationship with nature, the myriad products we consume that come directly to us as a result of “nature’s bounty”, the pervasive role they play in our lives and how they are inextricably bound up in our memories.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, a love of shellfish began to develop in me in my youth – I still recall vividly trips to Lundy’s raw bar in Sheepshead Bay and fresh lobster dinner at Brown’s Lobster House in Far Rockaway. As a boy, my mother would send me out to one of her favorite Italian restaurants to order the night’s dinner, a ritual that almost always included an order of scungilli salad. Many years later, I was laid up in a Bahamas hotel for nearly three days of what was supposed to be a romantic vacation thanks to my eagerness to eat a ‚Äònot really fresh’ raw conch salad plucked from the back of flat-bed pickup. Years after that, I spent some time in the ecological gem of an area that includes the Conch Republic, otherwise known as Key West, where, as in a growing number of once prolific breeding grounds and habitats, there are practically speaking no conch to be had.

Scungilli or conch, the marine snail more widely known as abalone, is an increasingly rarer and more expensive shellfish. Once a thriving industry in the US, California banned commercial abalone fishing in 1997 and is still waiting for populations to recover. What’s offered in San Francisco restaurants is for the most part imported from Australia and New Zealand and priced at $50 to $70 per plate, having increasing 7 to 10 times faster than inflation, as was reported in a recent article on Bloomberg.com .

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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.”

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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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