Americans eat a lot of sugar. According to a 2012 infographic from www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com, we consume about 130 pounds of sugar each year. And when I say sugar, I don’t just mean sugar from sugar cane. I am referring to corn syrup, which is used to sweeten our favorite soft drinks, of which the average American drinks 53 gallons per year. That sounds bad, and it is, but brain scans show that sugar is addictive as cocaine. Well, our national addiction is in major trouble from climate change.
Corn is the biggest agricultural crop in the U.S. It’s a $65-billion-a-year industry and global warming is putting it at a significant risk. A report released this week by Ceres, a coalition of investor and environmental groups, says that corn is at risk because its water demands are growing at a time when the threat of drought is increasing. Ceres said corn production particularly is in danger due to its tapping stressed aquifers as a water source. A couple that are especially relied upon are the High Plains aquifer, which covers eight Great Plains states, and the Central Valley aquifer in California.
Report author Brooke Barton, Water Program Director at Ceres, says, “Escalating corn production for our food, livestock and energy industries has put the corn sector on an unsustainable path.” The Midwest drought of 2012 pushed corn prices to record-level highs of $8 per bushel and according to the report are "a taste of what is predicted to become the new normal in many parts of the Corn Belt thanks to climate change.”
Rising corn prices also impact more than just the food industry. The transportation industry may also take a hit as corn production is affected by climate change. The crop is used to make ethanol, which is a fuel additive, and accounts for roughly 10% of the country’s fuel.
However, the largest use of corn in the U.S. is still for human consumption one way or another. Even if we’re not directly drinking it in soft drinks, it is still used a livestock feed. Soda manufacturers, such as leading beverage company Coca-Cola Co., could make a significant difference in sustainable corn production. Ceres says they could seek out suppliers of their agricultural ingredients who use less water and fertilizers.
Although, the good news to our waistlines is that U.S. consumption of carbonated soft drinks has been declining for a decade. Maybe we are starting to wean ourselves off of our sugar addiction after all. Either way, it is part of a group of addictions that our country needs to overcome. Using less is the best way to control carbon emissions.
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.
Snuggled in a residential neighborhood in Lower Nob Hill near Union Square in San Francisco, Hotel Carlton offers its guests an eclectic atmosphere, international ambience, outstanding service and an eco-friendly attitude. As a certified green business, Hotel Carlton strives to incorporate sustainability into all core business operations.
The hotel’s makes every effort to conserve energy, water and natural resources through measures like installing low-flow water fixtures and energy efficient light bulbs throughout the hotel and using Energy Star rated appliances and office equipment. The hotel also has solar panels on the roof that provide 8-10% of the total electrical load for the building.
Beginning in 2007, Hotel Carlton took the additional step to offset its remaining annual operational carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org. Each year, Hotel Carlton calculates its annual electricity and heating fuel usage, its employee commuting and business travel emissions, then makes a donation to Carbonfund.org to neutralize those emissions by purchasing a corresponding quantity of carbon credits produced by one of our third-party verified and validated carbon offsetting projects. To date, Hotel Carlton has neutralized over 4 million pounds of carbon emissions, equivalent to the emissions produced by driving over 4.3 million miles in a typical passenger car.
Hotel Carlton also strives to increase waste diversion by using paper products with recycled content, and by recycling all paper, bottles, and cans and composting all food and landscape waste. The hotel purchases environmentally friendly products to minimize the use of toxic materials to protect employee and guest health as well as the environment.
Hotel Carlton was constructed on the tip of one of San Francisco’s few chunks of bedrock. The hotel was designed as one of the nation’s very first buildings specifically constructed to withstand earthquakes. This proved to be beneficial in 1989 immediately after the big 7.1 earthquake. Hotel Carlton ended up with just one broken window along with some very superficial plaster cracks.
Hotel Carlton’s décor is inspired by travels from around the world, in particular Nepal, India and Morocco. The lobby is reminiscent of a cozy living room with a roaring fireplace, beautiful Indian accent rugs, and comfortable sofas and armchairs. These elegant and cozy touches underscore the hotel’s commitment to superior guest experiences, and the environmental commitment ensures that the hotel remains a leader in the sustainable hospitality industry.
The big news this week is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their proposed Clean Power Plan. Environmental groups and climate change activists have been eagerly awaiting these carbon emission standards for coal-fired power plants.
Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and generate approximately one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA’s proposal, released Monday, will help lower carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The proposed rules are the latest under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The EPA is charged with proposing commonsense approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.
Last June, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon emissions, prepare the country for the impacts of climate change and lead international efforts to address global warming. Learn more about the President's Climate Action plan on the White House web site.
For good or ill, climate change continues to be a politically charged issue, often dividing along party lines. However, many companies recognize that global warming is already impacting their daily business operations and that the problem is only going to get worse if we do not take steps now to embrace a low-carbon future.
Sustainability advocacy nonprofit Ceres coordinated letters of support for the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution rule to the Obama Administration and Senate and House majority and minority leaders from 125 companies including the likes of Unilever, VF Corporation and Mars. The letters were also signed by 49 investors managing $800 billion in assets.
Read more about the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.
Spring is here – weekend warriors are out in droves, trying to create a special oasis in their back yards. Homeowners in the greater Boston area with a yen for natural and easy-care landscaping have an advantage – they can have their own "everyday getaway" with the help of Land Escapes Design Inc.
Land Escapes brings a passion for the natural world to environmentally friendly, low-maintenance landscape designs and custom cutting edge floral inspirations. They’ll help create an "everyday getaway" in your outdoor living space, a sanctuary where you can unwind, relax, entertain and enjoy your natural surroundings.
Land Escapes is serious about its commitment to the environment, for client landscaping designs and for its own business operations. A Carbonfree® Business Partner for the past five years, Land Escapes makes an annual donation to Carbonfund.org each year to neutralize the carbon footprint from its operations. Over those five years, Land Escapes has mitigated the impact of almost 350,000 pounds of carbon emissions, the amount of greenhouse gases sequestered by 4000 tree seedlings planted and grown over a ten-year period.
“Carbonfund.org has helped us achieve our sustainability goals in two ways. The first is by ensuring that our donation goes toward worthy necessary causes to heal our planet and help offset our portion of the damage done,” explains Trevor Smith, Principal of Land Escapes Design. “The other is by helping us assure our clients that we mean what we say and practice what we preach. By having the Carbonfund.org logo on our site and literature clients and potential clients alike can be sure they are making a wise choice and choosing a company with a conscience, concerned with the role they play in the world. Having the Carbonfund.org logo also helps us set the bar for our peers and competition as well causing them to rethink their roles.”
Land Escapes specializes in landscape design, water features, rain harvesting systems and rain gardens, living wall and living roof systems, as well as complete event design for all occasions and seasonal decorating.
Land Escapes Design partners with its landscaping clients to design unique “everyday getaways” and partners with Carbonfund.org to ensure that its own operations do no harm to the natural environment it seeks to enhance.
ClimateStore Inc., located in Boston, MA, officially became a Carbonfree® Partner with CarbonFund.org. The newly launched retail brand has a mission to make it fun and easy for people to reduce their carbon footprint, and launched its on-line brand, climatestore.com, this past Earth Day. The company seeks to close a gap in the retail space, namely, the lack of an easily recognizable retail brand focused entirely on climate change.
ClimateStore hopes to tap into a growing market of climate conscious consumers, and carbon offsets play an important role in its sustainability strategy. To help realize its mission, ClimateStore purchased offsets from a portfolio of reforestation and forest conservation projects to offset emissions from its operations including energy use at its offices, freight and parcel shipping, employee commutes, and business travel. The company also relies on partnerships with like-minded organizations, like Carbonfund.org and 1% for the Planet, to support climate change awareness programs and forest conservation initiatives.
“With the recent release of the latest UN IPCC report and U.S. National Climate Assessment, there can be no doubt this is a critical issue current for future generations. More people are asking what they can do to reduce their carbon impact” says Steven E. Bushnell, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of ClimateStore Inc. “There is a false perception that moving to a lower carbon economy will require giving things up or need extra effort. We take the opposite view; lowering one’s carbon footprint should be fun, easy and rewarding as we collectively secure the stable climate we all hope to live in.”
The ClimateStore.com website provides summaries of climate science, issues an urgent call for action, suggests plans to reduce personal carbon emissions, and provides products to help people achieve a lower carbon footprint. The company launched with about 250 carbon saving products, including: energy efficient lighting, water saving devices, smart home technology, home décor, laundry items, travel gear and accessories. Each product is evaluated by ClimateStore staff to identify exact how it saves carbon - including the production, use, and disposal phases of the product’s lifecycle - and communicate their findings with a simple icon system and detailed product descriptions.
- retail channel
- CarbonFree Business Partnership
- carbon footprint
- online brand
- climate change
- climate conscious consumers
- carbon offsets
- forest conservation
- offset emissions
- energy use
- 1% For the Planet
- climate change awareness
- lower carbon economy
- carbon emissions
- energy efficiency
- upcycled materials
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.
This is the third in a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. This month's blog highlights the extraordinary community benefits at the Russas and Valparaiso Projects.
The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Juruá and Valparaiso Rivers in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Russas and Valparaiso Projects. These forest conservation projects collectively cover approximately 158,000 acres and are being designed and implemented in tandem. The Valparaiso Project is currently undergoing validation to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), while the Russas Project recently achieved validation to the VCS and to the Gold Level of the CCBS for the Project's exceptional community benefits.
To achieve Gold Level of the CCBS for exceptional community benefits, projects need to demonstrate that at least 50% of the communities living in the Project Zone earn less than the national poverty line. Next, projects need to specifically involve the poorest community members and must have a specialized community impact monitoring plan with the ability to monitor the projects' impact on these poorest community members.
The Russas and Valparaiso Projects both use a Basic Necessity Survey for their specialized community impact monitoring plan. The way a Basic Necessity Survey works is by beginning with a local focus group to identify the top 20-30 assets or services which were believed to be basic necessities, or things that no one in the communities should have to live without. Then the Project Proponents, comprised of CarbonCo, Carbon Securities and the private landowners, individually surveyed local families and only those assets or services which at least 50% of the families deemed a basic necessity were included in the final calculations of a poverty index and poverty score. In addition to a poverty index and poverty score, the Project Proponents will continue to monitor community impact variables such as the value of owned assets, value of owned assets per person, inequality of owned assets, and the inequality of owned assets per person.
The Project Proponents identified the particular needs of the families within the lowest 25% of the families surveyed via the Basic Necessity Survey and then designed the Project in order for these families to benefit substantially from the Project. This includes addressing some of their specific needs, such as increasing access to transportation and focusing on agricultural extension courses. The Project is also designed with the goal of increasing their incomes in order for them to eventually purchase additional assets, such as a telephone or television, to satisfy their other basic needs. Furthermore, the Project Proponents identified and actively work to avoid scenarios which might prevent the poorest 25% of communities from benefiting substantially from the Project.
The Russas and Valparaiso Projects reduce tropical deforestation and preserve the area's rich biodiversity, which is a critical need in and of itself, but they surpass that need by directly improving the livelihoods of local families. Creating a win-win is what CarbonCo, LLC is all about. We love when our projects benefit both the environment and local communities and we thank you for your ongoing support to continue making these win-wins happen!