We’ve talked before about the literal dollar value of wilderness. Likewise, Clinton era economists put a price tag of $111 Billion Anually on recreation in US National Forests. The current administration has scaled that number down to $11 Billion, citing better calculation methods. Grist points out that birdwatchers alone spent $38 Billion last year on equipment and related travel. So which side is cooking the books?
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
The Ergosphere is a great blog I discovered recently with some rock solid thinking about the petroleum economy. Recently, a post on continued high gas prices got my attention (post here).
If indeed Americans have their heads so far in the sand that they won’t do a thing to change their behavior until economic disaster strikes, is there a silver lining that enterprising folks might capitalize upon? Turns out there are both short and long term opportunities to take advantage of. Throttle restiction gadgets, aerodynamic fairings for trucks, and other technologies could be hot sellers if gas prices continue their likely rise. Worth thinking about.
Elizabeth U reports on some great developments in Oregon – Burgerville is a fast food chain in Southern WA and Northern OR that sources all ingredients locally and in season (fish & chips only when Halibut is in season, berry milkshakes when the berries are in season, etc) and now they’ve committed to 100% wind power. Gotta love ‘em!
The Green Roof phenomenon is really starting to go mainstream with the big apple getting on board. There’s a great article in the New York Times which clearly outlines some of the benefits to adding various types of vegetation to rooftops. It’s especially timely given the recent heatwave that has stricken the city.
Anyone who’s ever walked into Central Park on a hot day knows the almost magical difference greenery makes in keeping temperatures bearable. With the park in mind, the article notes that Queens alone has suitable flat-roof acreage totalling more than three times the acreage of Central Park. Imagine the air conditioning savings!
The headline is incredibly simple and obvious (as pointed out on Worldchanging) but companies continue to throw out enormous amounts of material annually. Sometimes the mantra just needs to be repeated – waste=cost. Wired Magazine has a great article showcasing some recent success stories, including Subaru’s “waste free” factory in Indiana. Check it out.
In the 1920s, the Society of American Florists coined the term “say it with flowers”. Americans have consistently been doing so for an increasing number of special occasions ever since. Consumers now have the chance to say it with sustainable flowers. Gerald Prolman’s web-based flower business, Organic Bouquet, affords online shoppers the opportunity to remain romantic while going organic. This is great news for my love life, as on more than one occasion I’ve hit sensitive nerves by staying true to my boycott of the floral industry. Thanks for you help, Mr. Prolman.
The Global 100 Eco-Tech Awards is an official award program of EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan. The awards recognize companies that have technologies that “contribute significantly to the resolution of global environmental issues and to the creation of a sustainable future for humankind and the Earth.”
Read about these amazing companies in GreenBiz
Business Link Surrey, a government run business resource center in London, is offering free advice on ‘going green’. (Article Here) Even simple tips like using mugs instead of foam cups are useful where many businesses simply don’t know where to start. Helpful programs like this one can make a big difference in environmental terms, as well as in improving the bottom lines of local businesses.
A while ago we talked about a Prius hack that can yeild mileage performance up to 180mpg, while voiding your warranty. Well, it turns out a regular factory model Prius can break the 100mpg barrier if driven in an extremely obsessive manner. A group of engineers in Pittsburgh did just that recently by using a technique called “Pulse and Glide” which essentially consists of coasting most of the time. Not exactly practical, but it’s amazing to see what’s possible out there! (via Grist)
Fujitsu is continuing their work on a corn starch based plastic for use in computer cases. The new development should save as much as a liter of petroleum in the production of a laptop computer. There is no increase in manufacturing cost, and the case is recyclable at the end of its life. Currently, however, raw material costs remain higher than traditional plastics. More on JFS.
According to the Internetwork for Sustainability, as climate change becomes more of a mainstream issue, companies’ brand reputations will be increasingly staked on their response to the issue. The lesson, according to the article, is to act now to establish a reputation for being appropriately proactive.
Microgeneration refers to the spreading-out of energy generation to many places, rather than a few giant powerplants. Examples are small wind turbines on people’s homes, or towns. In addition to being a money saver for people, it’s also a way to ensure a much more stable electricity grid, although it might not entirely supplant it. Many small companies are cashing in on the trend by offering consumers the basic supplies to create their own energy. For more info, the BBC has a great whitepaper on it (PDF link).
(via Curt Rosengren)
One of the great tenets of environmental accounting is finding dollar values for things that were previously overlooked. The classic question “What’s the value of a tree?” might be answered by many as “priceless”, but put into the context of an urban environment and the many services that the trees provide, it’s useful to find a way to add them up. Joel Makower points us to a fascinating study by the Casey Trees Endowment that tallied up an average value for the services provided by all the trees in the District of Columbia.
Among the services provided: Air pollution removal, carbon storage & sequestration, building energy-use savings, as well as structural and compensatory value. The total value of the roughly 2 million trees in the district? Over three and a half BILLION dollars.
Keep in mind that none of this accounting tries to get into the value of asthetics, mental health, and property values. So in reality the trees are worth a lot more.
According to Worldwatch Institute, only 1-2% of America’s food is ‘locally grown’, meaning the vast majority of it gets shipped and average of 1,500 miles to the dinner plate. There are obvious environmental consequences to this, as well as preasures on small farmers. The idea of ‘Sustainable Food’ means shortening the supply chain, buying local, enaging a relationship between farmer and the end buyer, either through community markets or involved restaurants. It’s slowly gaining steam, as outlined in the LA Times recently. Check it out. (Requires registration)
For your weekend listening, check out the KPFA (Berkeley) program Terra Verde, featuring Presidio World College Provost Ron Nahser and New College’s Jon Ragatz. The program is an in depth look at the Sustainable MBA movement from some of the pioneers in the field. It’s only 30 minutes, and you can download it right here.