Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tipping Point?

Interesting follow up in light my recent post below that partially discussed James Lovelock's prediction that the Earth is reaching a carbon tipping point of sorts much faster than previously anticipated.

From the Independent:

The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement.

Also - interesting follow-on to point number 6 in previous post.
Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.
And just in case you need historical context in order to not sleep tonight.
Based on current trends, carbon dioxide concentrations are likely to increase to 500ppm this century. The last time the planet experienced levels as high as 500ppm was about 20 or 40 million years ago, when sea levels were 100 metres higher than today.
I'm reminded of a line from a recent gawdawful Wall Street Journal op-ed. They had a slightly different perspective...minor, almost semantics really...
The second point is that the Stern report barely mentions the potential benefits from warming in the world's cold-weather regions. Al Gore and others warn about the damage from coastal flooding and changing weather patterns, among other horror scenarios. But the world is large and its climate diverse, and a longer growing season in Siberia or Canada is at least one possible benefit of warming.

So wait, it's not a hoax?

Barbara Boxer pledges a very different approach to global warming as chair of the US Senate's Environmental Committee.

Boxer's elevation to chairwoman of the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee comes as the Democrats return to power in the Senate. It also marks a dramatic shift in ideology for the panel.

The California Democrat is one of the Senate's most liberal members and replaces one of the most conservative senators, Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe had blocked bills seeking to cut the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming, calling the issue ''the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people.''

This is great news.
Boxer said she intends to introduce legislation to curb greenhouse gases, strengthen environmental laws regarding public health and hold oversight hearings on federal plans to clean up Superfund sites across the country.

On global warming, Boxer said she would model federal legislation after a California law signed this summer by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That law imposes the first statewide cap on greenhouse gases and seeks to cut California's emissions by 25 percent, dropping them to 1990 levels by 2020.

A top environmental aide at the White House signaled Thursday that the administration would work with Boxer.

On the last point, I remain in wait-and-see mode.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I remember you

Been a while, eh? Anything happened? Nah, I didn't think so...

That said...sigh...three months can go by so quickly. Anyways, I've got a backlog of things to post, although half of the links have probably been moved.

In any event, I wanted to draw attention to the recent NY Review of Books article, covering several recent books discussing global warming.

The books covered:
1. The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate in Crisis and the Fate of Humanity (James Lovelock)
2. China Shifts Gears: Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development (Kelly Sims Gallagher)
3. Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry (Travis Bradford)
4. WorldChanging:A User's Guide for the 21st Century (Alex Steffen)
5. Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises (edited by Architecture for Humanity)

Among the most interesting points to me:
1. Lovelock's tipping point relies on the same mechanisms as most other climate scientists, but as with most, his prediction of the results varies in both impact and time. Shorter Mr. Lovelock: we're screwed.
2. The Gaia hypothesis is alive and well
3. The science of climate behind climate change is moving faster than any literature can keep up. Apparently already An Inconvenient Truth is outdated.
4. Lovelock doesn't want wind power because it disturbs his beloved countryside.
5. Travis Bradford is an I-banker who believes solar will grow annually 20% to 30% for decades (similar growth rate in the computer chip industry). He discusses at length the success of Japan and Germany in increasing solar investment through government subsidies that are now no longer necessary.
6. "In retrospect, historians are likely to conclude that the biggest environmental failure of the Bush administration was not that it did nothing to reduce the use of fossil fuels in America, but that it did nothing to help or pressure China to transform its own economy at a time when such intervention might have been decisive."
7. Check out World Changing's website. Incredible resource for impacting our environment with simple technology at hand. Tremendous example of "the Wisdom of the Masses".
8. Where the hell is that carbon tax already?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not scary at all

Maybe more articles of this nature, and things would actually start to happen.

Even scarier is the other sight, about 20 meters down off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif.: bubbles, millions of bubbles of methane -- 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The methane is bubbling up naturally from some of the enormous natural undersea reservoirs of the gas mostly locked into the frozen mud under the sea floor.


Scientists have just released video showing how, for the first time, they have been able to measure these natural up-wellings to tell whether, if large amounts of this methane ever thawed out from its deep sea beds, it would reach the atmosphere, rather than being absorbed in the water, and thus make the earth even hotter.

The findings of oceanographer Ira Leifer et al, published in a strictly peer-reviewed scientific journal, are that it would do just that.

In other words, all that undersea methane is a potential "positive feedback" of catastrophic proportions.

If warming currents, such as those already detected by scientists at depth, begin to thaw these methane beds, it will make the atmosphere, and consequently the sea currents, even warmer, and melt out more methane.

A number of scientists tell me that would take the Earth up into temperatures humankind has never experienced -- and probably could not survive.

As far as I can tell, this ran on ABC News. Now, at this stage in the game, maybe 18 Americans still get their news from ABC. But if we can convert just two of those, and they convert two, and those four each convert 2080 we'll be good to go.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I guess I like this...biofuels initiative

Anything involving this Administration I'm dubious about, but this doesn't seem all that...harmful

The federal government will spend $250 million to help create two research centers that will focus on finding more efficient ways to produce cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced Wednesday during a visit to Illinois.


The two winning organizations each will receive $25 million per year for five years, beginning in the 2008 federal fiscal year, to develop and operate the research centers, which are expected to be fully operational by 2009, said Raymond L. Orbach, undersecretary of energy for science.

While corn and soybeans are widely used to produce ethanol and biodiesel for fuel, the new research centers will be charged with looking to efficiently break down other natural materials, or biomass — such as grasses, crop residue and animal byproducts — to help make fuel.

Although of course, as with everything, there's self interest involved. And who is this farmer? Where does an AP reporter happen upon a farmer? Are they listed in the yellow pages under "Farming, Personal"? Sniff...I smell a planted individual from a biased third-party:

Farm states such as Illinois should benefit from the research because it could lead to new cash crops and markets for them, said Mazon-area farmer Jay Fillman.

"When you do that basic research, that can really open up new opportunities and probably make it a more sustainable, economic driven industry, instead of being driven by the subsidies as it is right now," he said.

Uh-huh. Whatever you say...Jay...if that's really your name...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

But wait, there's more...

This is pretty cool:

Twenty-two of the world's largest cities announced Tuesday they will work together to limit their contributions to global warming in an effort led by former President Bill Clinton.

The Clinton Climate Initiative -- which will create an international consortium to bargain for cheaper energy-efficient products and share ideas on cutting greenhouse gas pollution -- includes Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York as well as Cairo, Egypt; Delhi, India; London and Mexico City. While the group is not setting specific targets for reducing emissions, Clinton said, he is confident the effort will both cut pollution and create jobs in the cities that contribute most to higher temperatures.

One fascinating little tidbit points to an interesting potential strategy. Focus efforts exclusively on the worst emitters (say top 100) for the time being, to reduce potential negative economic consequences, developing world concerns, etc.
The 40 cities he is targeting account for roughly 15 to 20 percent of the world's emissions...

...The Clinton Foundation will focus on providing technical assistance and bargaining power to the participating cities, all with area populations of 3 million or more, employing the same model it has used to lower the price of AIDS medicine for poorer countries.

Cities Respond to Global Warming Challenge

Yeah yeah. I've been busy.

In any event, some interesting GW news. Into the vacuum of leadership created by the absence of Bush Administration interest in what even Ron Burgundy would refer to as "a pretty big deal", steps others:

Tony Blair yesterday sidestepped the Bush administration's refusal to act on climate change by signing what was hailed as a ground-breaking agreement with California, the world's 12th largest carbon emitter, to fight global warming.

Downing Street made no attempt to disguise the fact that the deal is designed to get round Republican objections to states imposing mechanisms to cut carbon emissions. With other US states also interested or involved in carbon trading markets, the path is being opened to bring US business into international efforts to fight climate change, even though international progress has been stymied by the Bush administration's refusal to sign up to binding targets in the Kyoto protocol.

And while the LA Times editorial section may be mildly dubious, it still praises the efforts, and describes the importance of public/private partnerships:
FOR ALL THE FANFARE that preceded it, the agreement on global warming signed Monday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is more a promise than a plan. The nation and the nation-state, the two leaders agreed, will collaborate on new, clean-fuel technologies and research the costs and benefits of mandatory emissions trading programs such as those recently put in place in Britain and the rest of Europe.

In fact, business — the constituency so many politicians fear to ruffle by proposing energy regulations — has shown more leadership than many governments on climate change. Business leaders recognize that it is more than simply an environmental issue. It's an energy issue. It's an economic issue. It's a national security issue.

They also recognize the costs of doing nothing. Not only the costs of drought and hurricanes, which we're already paying, but the opportunity cost. They see not just a moral imperative but a market for cleaner energy. The United States, which has always risen to scientific and technological challenges, is in danger of sitting this one out.

But even business leaders acknowledge that they cannot solve this alone. As BP Chief Executive John Browne, who hosted the Blair-Schwarzenegger meeting at BP's Long Beach shipping terminal, said at a meeting Tuesday with The Times' editorial board, the role of governments can't be underestimated even in seeking a market-based solution. "The way government creates regulations determines markets," he said. "And markets determine behavior."
Ahhh leadership. Smells of rich mahogany...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Green Building Competition (oh and Mr. Jolie's involved)

Yeah, the title's not the point (although a sad statement about our current administration). Rather it's the concept underlying. Who would've thought our generation's Rat Pack (Clooney, Pitt, etc.) would be so socially aware. Also points to the value of attaching a celebrity to any project you do. Just about guarantees publicity:

...Pitt was in New Orleans to give an update on a project he's promoting — a competition to choose ecologically sound designs for rebuilding neighborhoods.

"There's a big opportunity here," he said, to rebuild the city using energy-efficient building materials and appliances that would improve quality of life, particularly in low-income communities.

Global Green USA, a national environmental organization, is working with Pitt on the design project. Pitt heads a jury of architects, city residents and others who decided Friday on the top five environmentally friendly designs out of more than 100 entries. The designs were submitted by individuals and architect firms.

More info can be found here. And kudos to Mr. Pitt for stepping up and attaching his name to this type of project.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Grab the Sunscreen/Lead Suit


The average temperature for the continental United States from January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, scientists announced today. The average January-June temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 51.8 degrees F (11.0 degrees C), or 3.4 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) above the 20th century (1901-2000) average.

Five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri) experienced record warmth for the period. No state was near or cooler than average. The report comes from NOAA' National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Of course, of course, you can't draw inferences from six months of data. Luckily, we've got 15-20 years EASY before we have to start worrying. So that should give us plenty of time for more studies.

A scientific study commissioned by the Bush administration concluded yesterday [May 3, 2006] that the lower atmosphere was indeed growing warmer and that there was "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system.


But White House officials noted that this was just the first of 21 assessments planned by the federal Climate Change Science Program, which was created by the administration in 2002 to address what it called unresolved questions. The officials said that while the new finding was important, the administration's policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.

We're here...we''re not going anywhere?

Uh-oh. Looks like I need to make a little room on the bandwagon:

Eco-consciousness appears to be hitting the mainstream. For years, it was only the truly committed, the painfully hip and the guiltily ashamed who were willing to stand up in public and say they were willing to do something for the environment.

Now environmentalism has gone way beyond the sandal-ista crowd. We just may be entering a time when everyone from average individuals to giant corporations to politicians of all ideologies agree that the evidence of environmental degradation is so overwhelming that it's finally time to act
And for that, you can thank the loosening of the strangehold that Baby Boomers have had on society for the past thirty years, and start appreciating the younger generations. Seriously, if there was a more selfish generation, I'd like to see it. Environmental destruction? Check. Massive deficits? Check. Elimination of increases in the minimum wage? Check. Elimination of certain taxes for the wealthy? Check. Look, don't get mad at me for pointing it out...who keeps voting the Republicans in? Where's the base? It ain't amongst the kids (or anyone under 35). And shockingly (not), now that all the Baby Boomers have retired and want to ensure their entitlements stick around, they start voting Democrat. Its one long selfish decision after another. Sigh. Rant over. Love you mom.

How to be carbon neutral, though? It turns out it's as easy as writing a check. Various organizations will take your money and then go invest in planting trees, developing wind farms and other activities that "offset" the carbon dioxide you're responsible for creating.

It sounds a little nutty, and there is disagreement as to how well such a system works. But if you think about it, it's kind of a cool idea. Not all of us are cut out for driving Priuses, carrying burlap sacks to the market or putting on a sweater in our cold living rooms.

If not, fine. Paying someone else to do the things you're not willing to may be incredibly bourgeois, but it is in fact good for the environment.
I could be snotty, but anything is an improvement at this stage. And should carbon neutral living ever really sweep the mainstream, there may actually be a chance of change.

Wrapping up with some cool ideas (or maybe just ideas) (and now that I think about it, I may need to change some of the slang I use in writing on this subject):

Panelists at a Brainstorm session on global warming had a few of their own.

Lawrence Bender, producer of Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," told of the big corporation that is getting its truckers to turn off the air conditioning when they are idling.

Carol Browner, former administrator of the EPA, advocates national legislation to reduce carbon emissions that would replace a patchwork of local regulations that dog businesses around the country.

John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, points out that tiny efforts, like educating people to keep the tires on their cars filled, will contribute to better gas mileage and lower emissions.

Fred Krupp, chief of Environmental Defense, wants to see a federal carbon cap along with a system that would allow companies to trade credits toward achieving that cap. (Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman have proposed such legislation that so far hasn't gone anywhere.)

This is an issue that is anything but neat and tidy; even people who call themselves environmentalists aren't in lockstep. Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, for example, is a big proponent of forward-thinking ethanol technology. Lester Brown, a noted environmentalist, would far prefer to see the country focusing on wind power. They clashed in Aspen.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Short-termism and sustainability - an investor's perspective

Found a wonderful little speech from Al Gore (what can I say, I'm smitten) that he gave at the Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk in May 2005.

He focuses on two themes - the concept of short-termism among investors, and how to value sustainability within a company. Among the highlights:

The average mutual fund turns over its entire portfolio every ten months. I can make a case to you that that is functionally insane. Why? First of all because a long-term investor is supposedly investing in the value of the company. Sixty to 70 percent of the value of the average company builds up over a period of years.

The McKinsey Quarterly came out with a report that found this:...more than 80 percent of executives, said that they would cut expenditures on R&D and marketing to ensure that they hit quarterly earnings targets, even if they believed that the cuts were destroying value over the long-term. Eighty percent.

The practice of looking solely at the financial reports means looking only at a narrow slice of that spectrum of information. Yet the information that lies in a company’s environmental practice, employee practices and the other non-financial factors can also be very important.

Abraham Maslow, the great psychologist, once said, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.” And in the same way, if the only tool that we use to analyze what's valuable is a price tag, then those things that don't have a price tag can begin to look like they have no value.

You know, there are a lot of companies out there that have been whistling past the graveyard of big environmental risks. And, in fact, 10 of the largest 15 bankruptcies have occurred since 2001. That's partly an accounting artifact of the rising value of conglomerates, but it's also a result of some very large risks that go past the quarterly and the annual time horizon not being adequately analyzed and integrated into the assessment of value.

We're all here filling a kind of a policy vacuum. But...I believe -- we are here at an extraordinarily hopeful moment...I know there are tipping points in the political system also. Globally and nationally. And when GE moved and when Cinergy and Duke moved, that moved us closer to that tipping point.

When the leaders in the business sector begin to make their moves, before the policy vacuum can really be filled, there's one big, final step, and that is, for investors led by those of you who are here who have a requirement to take a long-term view decide to take the businesslike, commonsense, difficult but necessary steps to shift the perspective and integrate the data and start acting in ways that are fully faithful to your fiduciary responsibilities.

Pregnancy linked to global warming

Not trying to be a dick. Just saying, seeing as everything else appears to be...

The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, researchers say.

I imagine as the pace of change in our atmosphere speeds up we'll see more and more scenarios of this type - changes in feeding patterns, vegetation, crop diseases, coral reefs, migration routes, etc.
The researchers used the files of the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service to analyze 1,166 fires of more than about 1,000 acres. Their findings are published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.

Beginning about 1987, there was a change from infrequent fires averaging about one week in duration to more frequent ones that often burned five weeks or more, they reported. The length of the wildfire season was extended by 78 days.

The researchers said the changes appear to be linked to annual spring and summer temperatures, with many more wildfires burning in hotter years than in cooler years.

They also found a connection between early arrivals of the spring snowmelt in the mountainous regions and the incidence of large forest fires. An earlier snowmelt, they said, can lead to an earlier and longer dry season, which provides greater opportunities for large fires.

Oh well. According to those with their head in the sands, global warming will lead to increased rainfall, so I suppose this will all be a "wash"...(euw)

FYI - The research was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Forest Service and the California Energy Commission.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

10 Technologies to Save Us

Expect to see a lot more of these...Popular Science has an interesting special section geared around various alternative energy technologies. The piece details how many different options we can explore:

1.) Wind - the price of wind energy has dropped 85% in the past twenty years. Imagine if this administration actually tried to help out.

2.) Enhance the energy grid's efficiency (ie, move smaller power generation closer to a source)

3.) Hybrid cars - if all American cars were switched to plug-in Hybrids, oil consumption would drop 70-90% overnight

4.) Ethanol - only this country could look to a process (corn) that makes things worse. Sugar, cellulosic, that's where we need to go

5.) Solar - two things need to happen - improve energy efficiency (currently only 15-30%) and make it portable (no, not watches)

6.) Hydrogen power - already twice as efficient as gas combustion engines

7.) Ocean - this was awesome. Portugal will soon start powering 15,000 homes; tidal currents are 10 to 40 times as energy dense as wind

8.) Geothermal - tap the earth's internal heat...although knowing us, we'll find a way to turn it off

9.) Biomass (waste) - 1500 cows can produce 1.8 million KW of energy

10.) Negawatts - turn out the lights when you leave the room dammit!!!

Global Warming's a Huge Problem, But I'm Not Planning on Actually Doing Anything

So says a very interesting poll by the Center for the New American Dream. A representative sample of 1,000 adults said:
- Our nation's dependence on oil is a problem: 84%
- Gasoline prices are a problem: 94%

"Effective Actions I could Take":
- Buy a car that gets better gas mileage: 79%
- Take more public transportation: 71%
- Drive less: 69%
- Use AC less: 52%
- Tax gas prices higher: 39%

[this is the depressing part] "Things I'm actually willing to do":
- Buy a car that gets better gas mileage: 44%
- Take more public transportation: 31%
- Drive less: 37%
- Use AC less: 31%

Sigh...I shouldn't be surprised. And such will be the problem for an extended period of time, I suspect, until the next fact catches up with the above. For hidden in the report is a very exciting number, and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel (provided its not an oncoming train):

"Global Warming is becoming a major threat to our country and this world:"
- 77% strongly agree
-17% somewhat agree

[So basically 94% agree its at least becoming a threat...I see your dis-information campaigns and raise it cataclysmic worldwide devastation]

If you plan on buying a car in the next five years, how likely are you to consider hybrid
- 39% very likely
- 36% somewhat likely

[I bet GM/Ford wish they knew back in 2000 that in six years, 75% of drivers would consider hybrid]

This study spells some progress to me. No idea of the stat, but I imagine five years ago, global warming didn't rank half as highly a concern, and hybrid cars were probably popular only in ultra-green communities. Maybe I should find that stat, seeing as this is my blog and all. Some other day.

One final thing, perhaps useful in the future. When asked what would lead them to consider hybrid, the respondents indicated an interesting mix of altruism, patriotism and self-interest.
- Higher gas mileage: 77%
- It would help lessen our dependence on oil: 58%
- Helps the environment: 41% (interestingly a large gender split - 30% male, 52% female)
- Their design is appealing: 12%
- Cost less in the long-term: 7%

And he's back

Been away for a bit, but am back now, raring to go. I know I, and consistent posting on this blog, were sorely missed.

In any event, a couple small things to get going before I head off to work:

1.) U.S. Emits Half of Car-Caused Greenhouse Gas, Study Says:

"American cars and pickup trucks are responsible for nearly half of the greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally, even though the nation's vehicles make up just 30% of the nearly 700 million cars in use, according to a new report by Environmental Defense. Cars in the U.S. are driven more miles, face lower fuel economy standards and use fuel with more carbon than many of those driven in other countries, the authors found."

One surprising finding was that small cars emitted more carbon dioxide than SUVs, 25% of the total compared with 21%. That is because there are more older small vehicles with higher emissions still in service, said lead author John DeCicco, a mechanical engineer specializing in automobile research.

2.) Rep. Henry Waxman's Safe Climate Act:

The actual act can be found here.
Science tells us that we face a grave risk of irreversible and devastating global warming if global temperatures increase by more than 3.6°F.

The bill sets greenhouse gas emissions targets that aim to keep temperatures below the danger point. The level of emissions is frozen in 2010 and then gradually reduced each year through 2050.

The bill achieves these targets through a flexible economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, along with measures to advance technology and reduce emissions through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner cars.
Interesting they use the 3.6 degree (F) threshold. The James Hansen piece I read (see below) uses either 2 or 5 degrees as his baseline for damage comparison. One of the challenges, in terms of selling this concept to Americans worried about economic damage, "uncertainty" in the science, etc., while be nailing down the number and rallying behind it. Sounds silly, but the media, and the public respond to a specific, a 3 degree difference will lead to 100 million deaths and 5 billion in economic losses...or something along those lines. From experience, I know that the big, easy to read numbers are what get the media's attention (and thus the public).

The Act is very specific in its targets, although it waits a couple years before actually getting going in 2010...
Beginning in 2011, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced by approximately 2 percent each year, such that the quantity of such emissions in 2020 does not exceed the quantity of United States greenhouse gases emitted in 1990.

Also, the act lays out seven separate ways to determine if global warming is occuring, including, substantial slowing of Atlantic thermohaline circulation, sea level rise of more than 8 inches, ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer, decrease of 50% in the permafrost, and loss of 40% of coral reefs.

Finally, the bill provides for a market-based system of trading emissions.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wired Magazine - the Green Edition

[I started this back in May and never finished...just posting now]

Series of interesting articles in this month's Wired Magazine.

The Next Green Revolution is a call to arms using language only an MBA could love:

Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction.

Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. Business can be a vehicle for
change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future.

You don't change the world by hiding in the woods, wearing a hair shirt, or buying
indulgences in the form of save the earth bumper stickers. You do it by articulating a vision for the future and pursuing it with all the ingenuity humanity can muster.
Somebody might want to tell that to Julia Butterfly Hill.

The article further outlines four interesting strategies to focus on:
1. Developing renewable energies
2. Reducing "waste" (energy, industrial, etc.)
3. Building up cities over suburbs
4. Think quality not quantity.
...and the Author also runs an interesting website

Next article, 8 People and Trends to Watch is pretty self-expanatory. Kind of disappointing that's all they could come up with. 5 people? An author, a married-to-celebrity activist, a real estate builder and a governor. And if those are the four big trends that will save us, I'm stocking up on water wings and sun block now.

Carbon Quiz allows you to measure your carbon footprint and feel smug if you're in the "Deep Green" category. (ahem...I rule)

Interesting article on the power of consumers in spurring change. I suppose we should ignore the fact that consumerism is one of the main reasons we're in this miss.

Sorta sad moment here:
What percentage of our nation's energy currently comes from so-called alternative sources? Officially, 6.1 percent of our 2004 energy consumption came from renewable sources. But half of this energy is provided by hydroelectric power, which environmentalists usually don't regard as "alternative" (rare is the eco-warrior who loves the idea of damming up rivers). Strip away the hydroelectric, then, and you're left with a less impressive figure that encompasses geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass (which includes everything from switchgrass and ethanol to "sludge waste") sources: a piddling 3.4 percent. Solar energy accounted for less than 0.1 percent of our 2004 total consumption.

Grading of some environmental groups

And finally, an incredible Al Gore profile. Leaving aside his excellent PR efforts (capped by an epic SNL performance) and the overwhelming misery I feel when I think about the 2000 election...arghh. The piece is epic, and his company "Generation Investment Management" sounds very interesting.

Chicago - the Windy (Farm) City

Time Magazine covers Chicago's green building initiatives:

Sadhu Johnston, Mayor Richard M. Daley' s environmental working to turn Chicago into what he claims will be the most environmentally friendly city in the U.S. — as well as the nation's center for environmental design and the manufacturing of components for the production of alternative energy.

In much the same way that cities like Austin and San Francisco latched onto the boom in the Internet or biotech industry to propel their economies, Chicago is working hard to rev up its manufacturing and capitalize on the growth in green construction and wind and solar energies.

Interesting (and yet seemingly contradictory) statements here - a city is using "green" technology and concepts to encourage growth and industry. If it works, its another example of eco-friendliness becoming a revenue generator. The comparison between environmental sustainability and the Internet and biotech industries requires further thougth at a later date...are they similar? The "product" seems pretty different...

Among the examples cited in the article:

- the city has planted or negotiated the construction of over 2 million square feet of rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined.

- Chicago is now among the largest users of green energy in the country, with a goal of using renewable energy for roughly a quarter of city operations. To help reach that goal, it has already attracted two solar panel manufacturers to set up shop in the area.

- Since Daley [deleting scandal mention due to word count]...took office in 1989, some 500,000 trees have been planted, the city has been decorated with fancy planters, park space has increased and the lakefront, while still soiled with pollution, is being cleaned and preserved at a level never before seen.

Nicely done Chicago.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Less than noble truths

Just because you're a narcissist doesn't mean everyone's not staring at you.