Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their proposed Clean Power Plan. As readers of this blog are already aware, the Clean Power Plan proposes carbon emission standards for coal-fired power plants, which are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., generating approximately one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Some specifics are that under the Clean Power Plan, states must expand their energy sources and use solar (photovoltaic and solar thermal), wind, geothermal, sustainably sourced biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydrology in order to decrease their carbon emissions.
Did you know that renewable energy technologies are characteristically more labor-intensive than intensely mechanized fossil fuel technologies? This means that the potential economic benefits may be substantial; not to mention the significant benefits for our climate and health.
The solar industry employed over 100,000 workers in jobs ranging from solar manufacturing and sales to installation according to the Solar Foundation in 2011. Solar jobs grew by 20% percent in 2013 and 2014 is expected to create 22,000 jobs. Furthermore, these statistics were reported before the EPA plan was released, which may further boost the renewable job sector.
Let’s look at wind energy. The amount of domestically manufactured equipment used in wind turbines doubled from 35% in 2006 to 70% in 2011 with 560 factories directly employing 75,000 full-time employees.
The hydroelectric power industry also plays a role. Statistics show in 2009 it employed 250,000 people. As many as 700,000 jobs could be generated if the hydropower industry installs a new capacity of 23,000 – 60,000 megawatts (MW) by 2025. Rounding out our look at the renewable energy sector, the geothermal industry directly employed 5,200 people in 2010.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) estimated in 2009 that a national, renewable electricity standard attempting to cut 25% of carbon emissions by 2025 would generate 297,000 jobs, $263.4 billion in new capital investment, $13.5 billion in income to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners, and $11.5 billion in new local tax revenues. Remember, the EPA proposed reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. So the potential economic benefits may increase over the UCS’s estimates.
With these figures, we’re not even taking into account a complete picture of the potential economic benefits from expanded renewable energy sources. Think about how direct job creation leads to indirect job creation. For example, when you hire additional employees, you may very well need a larger Human Resources staff.
All of this comes at a time when our country could deeply benefit from economic stimulation. The U.S. economy is still anemic, with unemployment rates remaining high, and a disturbing national debt that’s expected to reach $20 trillion by 2020. We must embrace win-win scenarios such as these that combine healing our ailing planet with economic recovery. It’s past time to forge the path to a low-carbon future.
Ever come down with Lyme disease? Do you suffer from asthma? Think climate change might have something to do with it? Before you write off this thought as crazy consider the numbers.
The World Health Organization estimates that a minimum of 140,000 people currently die each year around the globe from the effects of climate change. That number does not include the millions more who are made ill from diseases such as asthma, heatstroke or malaria nor does it account for those that are otherwise physically harmed, for example from extreme weather events.
As if these numbers aren’t bad enough, Americans are largely unaware of the impact climate change is already having on their health. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication conducted a nationwide survey this spring asking respondents to give, “their best estimates of the impacts of global warming on human health worldwide – currently and 50 years from now. The largest proportion of respondents (38% to 42%) simply said, ‘I don’t know.’ The next largest proportion (27% to 39%) said either ‘no one’ or ‘hundreds’ of people worldwide will die, be made ill or injured by global warming each year, either now or 50 years from now.”
“Only 18% to 32% of Americans said, correctly, that each year either ‘thousands’ or ‘millions’ of people worldwide will die, be made ill or injured by global warming, either now or 50 years from now.”
One look at the conclusion of the health chapter of the recently released 2014 National Climate Assessment demonstrates that hundreds of climate experts see the danger from the global warming review they conducted over the past four years, “Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, threats to mental health, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. Some of these health impacts are already underway in the United States.”
We need to begin making the realization that global warming is here, it’s already killing some of us and there is no time to lose in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Americans are especially prone to think that technology will save us. Perhaps, but perhaps not. A new study argues that climate engineering may not be the answer to averting a climate change catastrophe. You know what will definitely help? Reducing what you can and offsetting the rest. Let’s get to it posthaste.
Within one generation, by 2050, the U.S. can gradually and almost completely eliminate coal and nuclear power finds a new report out from Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council. The report, "Energy [R]evolution – A Sustainable USA Energy Outlook," released last week details the steps we need to take to change greenhouse gas emitting systems such as electricity, heating and transportation. If we follow the groups' blueprint, the country is estimated to reduce carbon emissions 39% percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 60% below 2005 levels by 2030.
This report is the latest in a series of global, national and regional Energy [R]evolution scenarios found at www.energyblueprint.info. "The Energy [R]evolution demonstrates that transitioning to a renewable energy economy can free resources for economic development. It means more and better jobs, greater energy independence, and it is more democratic as citizens attain more control of energy production. Compared with the Energy Information Agency energy outlook, the transition to renewables creates more jobs at every stage of the energy transition, with more than 34% more jobs by 2030."
The Energy [R]evolution's goal is to, "wean the economy off dirty fuels as thoroughly and quickly as possible, and in a way that is technologically, politically, and ecologically realistic." Although this report focuses on the United States, it is, "part of a global analysis showing how the international economy can transition to nearly 100% renewable energy by 2050, while assuming no new 'breakthrough technologies'."
Specifically, the report outlines how by 2050 renewable energy sources could provide:
- Roughly 97% of U.S. electricity production
- 94% of the country’s total heating and cooling demand
- About 92% of America’s final energy demand
"The most recent National Climate Assessment makes it very clear that we need national policies to expedite a clean energy economy," said Kyle Ash, senior legislative representative for Greenpeace USA.
"Fortunately, the energy market is phasing out coal and phasing in renewable energy at a rapid pace, but this must be quickened to avoid climate consequences much worse than the wildfires, droughts, and superstorms the country is already experiencing," said Ash.
Indeed, the Energy [R]evolution sounds like a good way to start putting the brakes on global warming and engender the truly transformative change we must undertake immediately to avoid catastrophic climate change. The time has come for us to embrace a low-carbon future.
Storing your wedding gown, vintage clothing, family heirlooms or military uniforms became more environmentally sustainable when Foster-Stephens joined the Carbonfree ® Business Partnership program last fall.
Foster-Stephens of Elk Grove Village, IL has been producing storage solutions including archival boxes, muslin garment bags and reusable/recyclable garment bags to preserve and protect wedding gowns and other family treasures since 1936. Their product line includes many styles and sizes of archival protection boxes and bags to anyone interested in preserving textiles and family heirlooms: dry cleaners, museums, designers, costume archivists, military personnel and individuals interested in preserving their heritage.
To improve their own operational sustainability and neutralize operational emissions, Foster-Stephens supports Carbonfund.org’s reforestation projects around the world that help to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce carbon emissions. They also maintain recycling programs in their office and warehouse, and select products made from recyclable materials.
"We are proud of our ongoing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint,” states Nancy L. Jones, President of Foster-Stephens. “Our partnership with Carbonfund.org allows us to maintain our commitment to providing the best products for protecting textiles for future generations while offsetting the carbon emissions required to provide these products."
Historical preservation is important, but it should be accomplished with minimal impact on our environment’s future. Foster-Stephens is helping to achieve this goal by carefully selecting environmentally-responsible preservation packaging products and mitigating its own business emissions in partnership with Carbonfund.org.
There have been a variety of studies published in recent years showing that vegan and vegetarian diets produce a lower carbon footprint than omnivore or carnivore diets. Raw vegans further reduce their dietary footprint by greatly reducing the energy used to prepare foods. But what about the locavore movement and efforts to source food as close to home as possible?
Live Superfoods, a purveyor of raw, organic, vegan foods and nutritional supplements, recognized that their healthy diet options often came from distant lands, thus increasing the carbon footprint due to packaging materials and shipping emissions. In order to reduce these emissions, Live Superfoods took several steps to reuse and recycle shipping cartons and packing materials wherever possible, use recycled paper tape for sealing shipments and recyclable fill materials instead of bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts. Then, to neutralize the remaining shipping emissions, Live Superfoods joined the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program four years ago. The CarbonFree® Partner program makes it simple and affordable for Live Superfoods to mitigate its remaining operational emissions, including all shipping emissions and all employee commuting emissions, on an annual basis.
Live Superfoods purchases enough carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org to offset the shipment of products not only from their warehouse to their customers, but also from their global suppliers to the distribution warehouse. Consequently, their products have a lower carbon footprint than what most locavores consider local.
"As individuals, we're extremely excited about the locavore movement. But since Live Superfoods specializes in superfoods that are typically grown in exotic places, our company hasn't been able to participate,” explains Tom Burke, CEO of Live Superfoods. “Now, by purchasing carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org, we're able to import and deliver our foods to the ultimate consumer carbon-free. Our products now have a smaller carbon footprint than foods delivered by farmers to the local farmers' market!"
Live Superfoods also participates in their power company’s Blue SkySM Renewable Energy program, which supports a blend of 100% Pacific Northwest renewable resources from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This initiative further neutralizes Live Superfoods’ annual operational emissions, and together with the CarbonFree® Business Partnership, underscores Live Superfoods’ leadership position as a truly sustainable provider of healthy raw vegan foods, supplements and personal care products.
Local Ford Dealership to launch first ever green initiative to offset carbon footprints
SIMI VALLEY, Calif., January 31, 2013 - Simi Valley Ford will be launching its first-ever green initiative called the Drive to Save the Environment Campaign.The dealership has partnered with the Carbonfund.org Foundation to help offset the carbon footprint for the next 2 years of every new Ford vehicle that is sold during this campaign.The two and a half month long event will kick off on February 1st and go through Earth Day, April 22nd.
For every vehicle sold during this campaign-- from compact cars like the Ford Fiesta to the larger, F-150 trucks, Simi Valley Ford will purchase 2 years of carbon offsets by making a donation to support Carbonfund.org’s carbon emissions reduction projects. Whether it’s planting trees, pulling plastic out of the ocean, recycling or investing in renewable energies, the dealership has made a commitment to help reduce the carbon footprint in CA for all of the vehicles sold over the next 80 days.
“We at Simi Valley Ford are concerned about the future of our planet, so by partnering with a green organization like Carbonfund.org, we are hoping to help raise awareness to this growing issue. We are also excited to allow our customers the opportunity to drive ‘emissions free,’ simply just by buying a car,” says Mike Shell, Fleet Manager, Simi Valley Ford.
After Hurricane Sandy, a recent survey shows that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is caused by our daily carbon footprint emissions. Most people are unsure of how they can do their part to help reduce emissions, so Simi Valley Ford wants to help raise awareness on climate change, while promoting Ford’s green initiatives at the same time. The dealership is working with several green organizations to help promote this campaign and raise awareness in the community.
“Simi Valley Ford is taking a real leadership position by neutralizing the first two years of carbon emissions from every new Ford vehicle sold during their Drive to Save the Environment Campaign. It’s this type of forward thinking and pro-activity in the fight against climate change that we encourage among our business partners and supporters,” explains Eric M. Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. “We’re very honored to participate as a partner with Simi Valley Ford for this inaugural campaign.”
Simi Valley Ford has set a goal to sell 300 new vehicles between February 1st and April 22nd.They invite any and all local and national companies to join them in helping to reach their goal. This is the first time the dealership has launched this campaign and hopes that it will grow exponentially year to year, not just in CA, but also to Ford dealerships nationwide.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
This year offered several events that shone a spotlight directly on the important and urgent issue of climate change, but the question remains, “Was it enough to bring about meaningful efforts to reduce climate change?”
June of 2012 presented the United Nations Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which disappointed many as international representatives hemmed and hawed instead of establishing true endeavors to tackle global warming. Meanwhile the continental United States embarked on summer heat waves that were some of the hottest in its history.
This year also saw drought cover more than half the country; farmers suffered as their crops and animals died.
Then October of 2012 brought superstorm Sandy, this year’s biggest example of extreme weather and a deadly harbinger of the devastating effects of climate change. Can we continue to sit idly by in the face of all these signs that global warming is making broad changes to our planet? Should we leave these environmental problems for our children to face as we continue down an unsustainable path?
The close of the year is a time to reflect on the previous events of the year and make resolutions for the coming year. Let’s pledge to make 2013 the year where we confront climate change in every possible way. We can all embark on energy efficiency efforts; reducing what we can and lowering our carbon footprints. Every bit helps. Then it is a powerful combination to offset the rest of our carbon emissions. It would be a genuine shame to let the lessons of this past year slip from our consciousness while there is still time and so much that can and should be done to address climate change.
According to a study by the International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability, the issue of sustainability is increasingly important in the apparel industry. Environmentally-conscious fashion designers and retailers are moving away from the wasteful trend of “fast fashion” to focus on eco-fashion practices.
New CarbonFree® Shipping Partner Hearts believes that “conscious consumers create change,” and that sustainable fashion is not only environmentally friendly, but also a means of artistic and cultural expression. As Hearts launches its sustainable fashion online store, it has chosen to embed a carbon neutral shipping program as part of its environmentally-responsible commitment.
Through the CarbonFree Shipping Program, Hearts calculates the carbon footprint associated with the inbound and outbound product shipping and makes a corresponding donation to support Carbonfund.org’s projects that reduce carbon emissions, in order to lessen the impact of the carbon emissions created by any outbound shipping process. Hearts will be providing an immediate positive effect through investment back into reforestation projects, clean energy development and energy efficiency technologies.
“Hearts understands that environmental and economic sustainability is crucial with any e-commerce platform but especially in the world of fashion where it is our duty and responsibility to offset the carbon emissions when we can,” stated Michelle Petro, president. She added, “We are thrilled to partner with Carbonfund.org because they too are our environmental change makers.”
“Our CarbonFree Shipping Program offers a simple and affordable solution for responsible retailers such as Hearts to deliver their products worldwide in an environmentally sustainable way,” adds Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. “The CarbonFree Shipping label will assure Hearts’ customers that they’re choosing to make purchases from a company that is committed to its mission of social consciousness.”