Amy Givler

Amy Givler

Numerous reports have linked exposure to coal ash to an increased risk of cancer, birth defects and other health problems for the communities who live close to dump sites. Last year, a slurry broke in Tennessee, dumping a billion gallons of ash into waterways, burring houses and destroying ecosystems. The spill also raised concerns in Kentucky and other areas with coal ash. Lesley Stahl looks at the health effects and the safety of coal ash in her 60 Minutes report last night on the coal industry. Stahl interviews several coal industry representatives on the impact of coal ash on human health. From refusing to say “coal ash is safe” to arguing that it’s the same as dirt, this inside look into the coal message machine and the actual damage it’s doing to the people who live close to it is a must-see. Check it out: Watch CBS News Videos Online
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:08

PG&E Quits Chamber of Commerce

pg&e solarThe US Chamber of Commerce, which claims to be the voice of business, lost a big member this week—PG&E energy company—because of its "extreme" views on climate change. The Chamber has been a source of global warming denial and recently called for the EPA to hold a "Scopes"-like hearing on the evidence that climate change is man-made. The EPA politely demurred, saying that their policies are based "on the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare." Climate is not the Chamber’s specialty, but it has been instrumental in protecting some businesses' interests on issues like labor laws, the minimum wage and health care. And despite potential disagreements on myriad issues, some companies have decided to take a stand on this one. On the PG&E’s blog, Jonathan Marshall, PG&E’s chief of external communications writes, “not every issue is created equal, and sometimes companies decide they have to take a more decisive stand on the really big ones.” PG&E is a natural gas and electricity provider in Northern California and has invested in solar power. In a letter to the Chamber, they criticize its “extreme” view on climate change:
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.
Separately, Nike issued a statement that chided the Chamber for their position on climate change:
Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber's recently filed petition challenging the EPA's administrative authority and action on this critically important issue. Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions to address the issue. It is not a time for debate but instead a time for action and we believe the Chamber's recent petition sets back important work currently being undertaken by EPA on this issue. Nike helped to found BICEP, a coalition of businesses supporting congressional action to address strong U.S. climate and energy legislation. Nike has worked to address its own environmental footprint through the development of more sustainable products, energy efficiency programs and emission reductions.
With the 82nd Annual Academy Awards just around the corner all eyes are on Oscar and top nominees from films around the world. But with the production of award shows come large carbon footprints; the 2008 Oscars had an estimated 630 metric tons of carbon emissions. However, recently the film industry has taken notice that being environmentally conscious is not a fleeting Hollywood fad, and in 2008 the Oscars began a green initiative. The 2008 eco-friendly efforts included red carpets made of old plastic bottles, chalkboards for signage, electric generators powered by soy waste biodiesel fuel, and party tents lit by solar panels. In 2009, the Academy Awards up the ante and partnered with Seventh Generation, a leading producer of recycled, non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Swag bags given to celebrity presenters also frequently include items such as low-energy light bulbs. Among gifts for some nominees this year include the world's first Carbonfund.org CarbonFree® Certified paper shredder, the GoECOlife™ SOHO 8-Sheet ULTRA-QUIET™ Paper Shredder, which underwent a rigorous, third-party product life-cycle assessment to determine its carbon footprint. In addition to using energy-saving technology, GoECOlife™ reduced the remaining carbon footprint through support of Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation carbon reduction projects. While it's to be seen how the event itself will build upon its efforts to be more eco-friendly, the Oscars can refer to many examples of how large events have reduced their carbon footprint. For example, another Los Angeles event coming up is the Cable Show 2010, which will take place in May at the LA Convention Center. The Cable Show is offsetting the emissions from employee travel, hotel stays, meals and the LA Convention Center in support of Carbonfund.org’s third-party validated carbon reduction projects, including the New York State Landfill Methane Project.
bold interactiveBold Interactive specializes in online marketing—helping businesses promote their work online through online advertising and SEO. They have already started to address their climate impact by implementing a policy where every employee telecommutes three days a week and they source supplies and services locally. Now, they have gone above and beyond their commitment and are offsetting 200% of their climate impact. As I have gotten to know Bold Interactive’s work better, I’m more impressed with their thoughtful approach not only to their business model but to online marketing. Their article, “Top 10 Steps To 10x Your Online Marketing Effectiveness” is a must-read if you want to learn about how to prioritize your online marketing efforts. Learn more about Bold Interactive and Carbonfund.org’s new partnership!
Monday, 10 August 2009 11:12

Some #musicmonday love for @mojaveband

Vancouver-based band, Mojave, is donating 10% of their album sales to Carbonfund.org to reduce the environmental impact of their tour. Check out this video of "Lights Out", a beautiful song written for Earth Hour. Buy their album, Crow's Funeral>>
MacGray-Logo_smallMac-Gray, the leader in campus laundry services, is helping campuses reduce their campus laundry emissions through its “Lighten the Load” initiative. Working with Carbonfund.org, Mac-Gray has now teamed with fourteen college and university campuses around the country to reduce 100 percent of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from their laundry equipment. The initiative involves offsetting over 21 million pounds of GHG emissions. cmps3"We recognize that the first step in lessening laundry's carbon footprint is reducing energy consumption, which is why we recommend the most water- and energy-efficient washers and dryers.  We then rely on our 'Lighten the Load' initiative to offset unavoidable emissions," said Michael Calderaro, Mac-Gray's Vice President of Campus Laundry. Mac-Gray will be supporting three methane destruction projects of Carbonfund.org which were selected based on criteria set forth by the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment 2008 Voluntary Carbon Offset Protocol, in that they must represent immediate and verifiable GHG emissions reduction. The destruction of methane from such projects is important in the fight against global climate change because methane is approximately 23 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Such projects not only reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, but also help protect an area's local groundwater, reduce localized air pollution, control odor and produce power for regional electricity grids. "In selecting a laundry services company for our campus, our University chose Mac-Gray because it is a company that cares about the environment and is willing to invest their own money to offset the carbon footprint that our washers and dryers produce. This partnership is an important part of the university's overall sustainability initiative," says Ron Dalton, director of housing at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. The 14 colleges and universities now participating are: Colorado College, Colorado State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Keene State College, Salisbury University, Stonehill College, University of Montevallo, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, USC Aiken, USC Upstate and Western Carolina University. To learn more, please visit: www.cleanandgreenvision.com.
Apollo 11 840 years ago, man landed on the moon, but also landed the first solar panel on the moon as well. The Early Apollo Surface Experiments Package consisted of two solar panels, a communications system and some instruments to send data about the moon’s environment back to Earth. NASA’s space vehicles are heavily dependent on solar power and other energy sources as fossil fuels can be impractical solutions to fuel in a constrained environment. Moreover, this is why they are now leading the development of algae biofuels, which would allow astronauts to grow fuel on long trips by culturing algae. As NASA invented new technologies to meet the demands of its environment, they made essential leaps in clean technology development, including the solar "wings" that collect the sun's energy for use onboard the International Space Station. These advances were spurred on by President Kennedy through funding and our nation’s sense of competitiveness. It was done to meet a challenge, but it also transformed our school systems, advanced medical technology, satellites and telecommunications, and created jobs throughout the country and keeping the US ahead in the development of technology. The economic, social and technological advances from the space race permeate our society. Just as President Kennedy challenged us to maintain our technological competitiveness, President Obama has challenged us to stay ahead in clean energy tech. But unfortunately, the US is not winning the clean energy race. “China is 'winning' the race to develop clean energy, and the U.S. must put in place policies to promote alternative energy if it is to regain its footing,” mentioned in this article. Last week, Center for American Progress' Julian L. Wong testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on China’s clean energy industry. “The United States won the race to the moon, but we’re losing the race for a sustainable Earth.” In his testimony, he lays out a few facts about China's clean energy industry:
  • China’s efficiency programs alone will reduce over one billion tons of carbon dioxide per year starting 2010 compared to business-as-usual—equivalent to taking 200 million cars off the road.
  • China is now a leading innovator in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • China’s total wind energy capacity doubled in each of the past four years. This year it will surpass the U.S. as the largest installer of new wind capacity.
  • China is also the world’s largest supplier of solar panels, with 40 percent of the world’s market share. Of the world’s top ten solar companies by output, three are Chinese while just one is American.
Strong national policies that require efficiency gains, a high renewable energy standard and economic zones that support the manufacture of low carbon technologies have all contributed to China’s lead in the clean energy race. In order for the US to win the race to a sustainable future, we must pass strong legislation that funds clean energy and moves us away from fossil fuels. The measures in the climate bill that recently passed that House of Representatives would incentivize clean energy and help lead the way to regaining our lead in clean energy innovation. And, just as in the space race, this investment and this challenge will also create jobs throughout the country and spur investments that save consumers money. NASA’s innovations in energy was driven in part because of a constrained environment. They needed fuels that weren’t toxic. What we know now is that all environments are constrained—and to pollute in one area has massive global consequences. Clean energy makes sense for a spacecraft; it also makes sense for our homes and office buildings.
Carbonfund.org is proud to offset the Leaders of the Ethosphere Institute Forum (LEIF), sponsored by Enclave Rising, the Enclave Rising Foundation, and The Ethosphere Institute, a sustainability advocacy initiative comprised of thought-leaders across multiple disciplines in both the public and private sectors. LEIF Forum logoLEIF’s mission is to generate awareness about the importance of a sustainable future by assembling select members from the sustainable business community. In addition, LEIF aims to support sustainable development, hospitality, tourism, education, housing, and infrastructure initiatives while promoting sustainable best practices within multiple industries on an international scale. LEIF will convene professionals and thought-leaders from a multitude of backgrounds, industries, and interests to create a universal definition of sustainability and to define the parameters of genuine sustainability. Kim Slicklein, CEO and founder of Enclave Rising and organizer of LEIF notes, “Enclave Rising has created a truly unique event that will convene top thought-leaders in sustainability and we are pleased to have the support of Carbonfund.org, the leading nonprofit organization in carbon offsets. Carbonfund.org will offset the LEIF 2009 event so as to mitigate all travel and energy consumption utilized during the event. Carbonfund.org recognizes the importance of their role as part of this ground-breaking sustainability initiative that will drive change and transformation around the world.” Distinct from traditional conferences, LEIF will convene approximately 100 top thought-leaders and industry-wide experts to create a Think Tank. The LEIF Think Tank will establish and shape a collective vision and action plan for a sustainable future. Speakers and Participants Include: Paul Hawken Environmentalist, Entrepreneur, Journalist and Author, Natural Capital Institute Erika Harms Executive Director for Sustainable Development, United Nations Foundation Mike Italiano President & CEO, Founder / Director / CEO Board, US Green Building Council Director, Sustainable Furniture Council CEO, Capital Markets Partnership Tim Cole Chair Elect, USGBC Board of Directors; Director of Environmental Initiatives and Product Development, Forbo Flooring Systems Michela O’Connor Abrams President & Publisher, Dwell Lewis P. Jones Managing Director, JP Morgan Craig Zurawski Executive Director, Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments; President Braun & Zurawski, Inc. For more information and to register go to www.enclaverising.com/leif.
The fight against global warming has experienced multiple setbacks recently including the lack of a legally binding global agreement on climate change, the resignation of Yvo de Boer, reluctance from China and India to adopt mandatory emissions targets, and emissions legislation stalled in the US Senate. However, a letter released by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced that President Obama has not given up on reaching a legally binding agreement. Obama hopes that by keeping the talks alive it will be possible to more easily reach such agreement at a summit in Mexico this December. While some critics feel that a signed treaty by December is still a stretch of the imagination, a slightly longer timeframe may be more realistic in encouraging countries to climb on board. Countries such as Mexico, India, and China have already stated that more negotiations are needed before the summit in Cancun commences. In the letter the US emphasized the importance of providing “adequate time for countries to consult with each other bilaterally and regionally,” and that smaller gatherings are at least initially preferable.
Thursday, 20 August 2009 16:36

From the Land of Cool: Solar Powered Phones

solar phoneKenya is the first country to roll out a new line of solar powered phones. Rural Kenyans, for whom power can be inaccessible and expensive, will be able to tap this natural resource for powering their phones. Launched by Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom, the phone will cost under $40. Kenya has 17.6 million cell phone subscribers but just 1.3 million are connected to the national electricity grid. People have to walk long distances to charge their phone and pay third-party vendors for the service. Despite being inaccessible, power in Kenya has become very expensive. Most of their power comes from hydro-electric plants, but due to drought the power is being rationed. The shortage has spurred calls for greener energy sources—mostly wind and geothermal—and the production of solar devices like this phone. Americans use an estimated 200,000,000 kWh a year to power their cell phones, and an estimated 95% of the power drawn from chargers is wasted because users leave their chargers in the wall. Image Credit: Energyboom.com
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