After seven years and four months, President George W. Bush has finally announced his climate change strategy: end the growth of U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2025. U.S. emissions are rising about 1% per year, and we continue to be the world’s largest polluter with 40% or our greenhouse emissions coming from burning coal.
Is it earth shattering that Bush is on board with climate change? Only in the fact that he’s finally admitting that greenhouse emissions might be a problem. He continued his bad-mouthing of Kyoto as an economy killer and wants to hold China and India responsible before the U.S. will agree to any curbing of CO2. True leadership would see Kyoto as an economy creator; the next generation of manufacturing will be making renewable energy products like solar panels.
It takes a lot for me to mention my spouse in an article, but this one calls for it. DH (wow, I finally get to use that weird abbreiviation) is somewhere along route 80, last seen leaving Little Rock. He flew to Miami a week ago and is driving back to Los Angeles. For work, you see. No, he’s not a drug courier. He’s a screenwriter and is doing some research for an upcoming project. As a socially conscience guy, he dreamt of crossing this magnificent country, not in a cliched Mustang convertible, but in a Toyota Prius. However, he was shocked to discover that his American dream was actually mission impossible. None of the major car rental companies in Miami had Priuses, or any hybrids for that matter.
Which is why we personally applaud Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s recent announcement that they’ll be greening their fleet.
Enterprise, the nation’s biggest car rental company, announced last week that they’ll be opening four new “green branches” in Atlanta, where 60% of their cars will be hybrids or fuel efficient vehicles. Analysts say that the majority of hybrid renters will be of the socially conscious persuasion or those looking for an extended test drive. “Those who are looking for a value in terms of dollar for dollar will absolutely not get hybrids,” said Brian Chee, the head automotive analyst at MyRide.com. With hybrid premiums of $5 – $15 per day, auto experts reckon that this will outweigh fuel savings in short term rentals.
Picture a world map. Now picture it without Bangladesh. Less than 100 years from now, this may become our new world order. A new scientific study has confirmed that sea levels are rising faster than expected and could go as high as 1.5 meters by 2100. This figure is far greater than the one forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose conservative estimate was for an average rise of 28-45 centimeters.
This new data comes from a British/Finnish team who used a computer model to look at the relationship between sea levels and temperature. “For the past 2,000 years, the [global average] sea level was very stable, it only varied by about 20cm,” said Svetlana Jevrejeva from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), as quoted by the BBC. “But by the end of the century, we predict it will rise by between 0.8m and 1.5m. The rapid rise in the coming years is associated with the rapid melting of ice sheets.”
The rising price of food is making headlines around the globe. While price hikes in basic commodities such as wheat, maize and corn are the root of much suffering in the developing world, here in the U.S. the impact is being felt particularly hard by consumers of organic produce. The cost of organic food, those grown without “pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics” has reached record levels — “a loaf of organic bread can cost $4.50, a pound of pasta has hit $3, and organic milk is closing in on $7 a gallon”.
The reasons behind the organic price increases are much the same as for conventional produce: higher fuel costs; ever increasing demand; and a strict grain supply that’s needed for animal feed, bread and pasta. Farmers raising organic livestock, organic bakers and organic pasta makers say they’re “struggling to maintain profit margins, even though shoppers are paying more”. Manufacturers and retailers worry that the spiraling price of organics will price some consumers right out of the market.
It seems we just can’t come up with new clichés anymore. We re-use the same old sayings, inserting new ideas that fit the times. Folks who study the emerging environmental economy are no exception and politicians have fallen right in step, labeling the new working-people’s jobs “Green Collar.”
Who really cares, though? What’s important – and hopefully politicians will really take notice after you-know-who is gone – is that efficiency, renewability, and sustainability, have a place in the economy of the next 50+ years. According to Lois Quam of the investment firm Piper Jaffray, which is pioneering investment funds for renewables, “When I first started looking at this area, many people commented on how this will be as big as the Internet. But this is so much bigger than the Internet. The only comparable example we can find is the Industrial Revolution. It will affect every business and every industry.”
When I first heard about ocean acidification wiping out most of the coral reefs by the end of the century, I was skeptical. For you novices, that’s the process whereby carbon dioxide from the air becomes carbonic acid, which in turn dissolves the calcium carbonate in coral. You keeping up? Then there were the supposed detrimental effects on coccolithophores (that’s a single-cell, carbonate-encased algae) in particular, the Emiliania huxleyi. Higher levels of acidity were thought to hinder “the algae’s ability to build the disks of carbonate that form its shell”. As if. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
You might not know this about me, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I’m also a history buff with a passion for preservation. So, of course I have an opinion about Monopoly’s green makeover.
No, they haven’t started printing the money on recycled paper, changed “go straight to jail without passing go” to “do community service at a homeless shelter” or made the houses and hotels LEED certified — they’ve (according to Reuters) “flushed” Water Works and “disconnected” the Electric Company. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
If humans survive global warming, they’ll probably one day look back with disbelief at how previous generations generated electricity — especially electricity from burning coal. Burn coal to boil water, then use the steam to spin a turbine that creates electricity. What a stupid concept! Why manufacture electricity when it surrounds us?
One reason is money. Coal is relatively cheap and easy to find (if you don’t mind cutting off mountain tops). The other is an unwillingness to change. We have been burning coal since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
When cage-free eggs first became as fundamental a part of my weekly shopping routine as Cheerios, I had just moved to New York’s East Village. Union Square featured an organic farmers market where a woman named Rosa sold nothing but cage-free eggs from her farm in Queens. (For those of you who don’t know – though few and far between, there actually are farms in Queens.) Judging from the amount of pride Rosa had in her product – and the fact that the lines for her eggs were often the longest in the market – I was able to surmise that, relatively speaking, these hens were living a good life.
Even after moving to Brooklyn, I remained Rosa’s loyal customer until my relocation to Los Angeles forced an end to my patronage. Those weeks I wasn’t able to make it because of rain, snow or my hectic schedule, I would make an effort to find cage-free eggs in the supermarket. Though more expensive, I was hooked on the quality as well as the taste.
Fossil fuels are not only damaging to the environment, they’re running out. We need to find energy alternatives and fast. But who will be footing the bill for all this new research and development? Business? The Government?
While flipping through the many “green” themed fashion magazines out this month, I came across sexy looking Surface. Although I have seen this magazine many times before and have always liked its slick covers, I never got into reading it. This month’s issue gave me a few reasons to look a little closer: a feature photo I snapped of G Living Live host Marie Westbrook dressed in organic clothing by Jonäno. Second, an interesting article featuring the rise of talented, ethical designers in the fashion world.
“Environmentally friendly and socially responsible clothing lines are all the rage, but very few of these "ethical" labels offer clever designs aimed at fashion-forward adults. This changed last year, when Peter Ingwersen, former brand manager for Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage, launched Noir, a modern, sharply tailored collection of womens wear noted for its decidedly pronounced sex appeal and sustainability. Ingwersen’s collection earned accolades at London Fashion Week, designed which showcased borrowed-from-the-boys suits, slinky pencils skirts and curve-caressing dresses that evoked S&M inspired undertones."
We’ve heard about the riots in Haiti and the suffering in India caused by the price of wheat, rice and maize doubling in the last 12 months, along with soy and corn trading well above average. But why is this happening? And why now? The BBC attributes this to end of the “Goldilocks era for global commodities”, which saw prices stable for some 30 odd years. This, combined with the fact that food buffers are at all time lows, is hitting India and other developing countries very hard.
“33 countries around the world are at risk of social upheaval as a result of acute increases in food and energy prices,” said Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank (via the Chicago Tribune). Rice, lentils and wheat for a family in India can “take as much as 70 percent of a meager monthly salary… with the other 30 percent of the family’s income committed to rent,” which means no vegetables or other necessary food staples. Whereas, in rich developed nations, “people spend an average of 10 to 15 percent of their disposable income on food.” Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos