Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Comprehensive Environmental Education

An environmental education is far more dynamic and fluid that traditional forms of study. It involves more than rote learning or the purely theoretical study of ecological concerns. An environmental education includes critical thinking and a participatory approach that incorporates practical actions.

A good environmental education is holistic and interdisciplinary, as a comprehensive understanding of the issues spans a wide range of disciplines.

Environmental education is based on the pure and applied sciences like climatology, geography, biology, physics, botany, zoology, hydrology, and agriculture. However it also includes the social sciences like history, economics, business administration, sociology, anthropology and political science.

The Best and the Worst Climate Performers (CDP)

In addition to ranking corporate leaders, the most recent CDP report lists the leading sectors in terms of climate performance. It reviews regional and national climate leaders and laggards. The report also singled out a few large corporations which refused to disclose their climate performance data. Performance leaders are those who received an "A" grade in the report.

According to the CDP, the sectors most represented in the 2014 Climate Performance Leaders Index are Information Technology, Financials, Consumer Staples, Consumer Discretionary and Industrials. Together these four sectors constitute 86 percent of the A list index.

According to the CDP's climate performance list, almost half of the leaders are based in Europe, with a further third located in either the US or Japan. More than a quarter of the Spanish and Belgian companies that took part in CDP’s climate change program were awarded an A rating. Other nations that performed well are Portugal, the Netherlands and South Korea.

By contrast, the laggards on climate performance are Canada, Switzerland, Australia and China.

Final Round of Climate Negotiations Before COP 20 in Lima

The final round of climate negotiations ahead of the twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP 20) got under under way at UNFCCC headquarters in Bonn, Germany on October 20th. The COP 20 meeting in Lima is the penultimate conference before the hoped for global climate agreement which is due to be signed in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris.

Webinar - How to Celebrate America Recycles Day at Work

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, October 22, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET. The final America Recycles Day 2014 webinar, features special guest Chad Obenauf, the Chairperson of Kellogg Company's Go Green team!

There is no better time to tackle recycling in your office than on America Recycles Day.

This webinar will address ways of celebrating America Recycles Day in your workplace. Obenauf, will explore his multi-faceted plans for an engaging, educational, and rewarding America Recycles Day at Kellog.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Webinar - Designing and Planning for Healthy Cities

Designing and Planning for Healthy Cities - A Conversation With Richard Jackson, Tim Beatley and Georges Benjamin. This webinar will take pace on Thursday, October 30, 2014 12:45 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

The environment that we construct affects both humans and our natural world in myriad ways. There is a pressing need to create healthy places and to reduce the health threats inherent in places already built. However, there has been little awareness of the adverse effects of what we have constructed-or the positive benefits of well designed built environments.

Join SSF and the American Pubic Health Association on October 30th in a rare opportunity to listen in on a conversation between two of the thought leaders in public health and urban planning and design -- UCLA Professor Richard Jackson co-author of Urban Sprawl and Public Health and co-editor of Making Healthy Places; and Tim Beatley of the University of Virginia and author of Biophilic Cities and Blue Urbanism plus several other books on urban and environmental planning.

Climate Adaptation Strategy

Here is the press release for the new report: Action Needed Now to Fix Climate Change Preparedness Deficit Conservation, Insurance Leaders Urge Reinvestment in Natural Defenses

October 21, 2014 – Climate impacts are hitting home faster than governments are adapting, but it’s not too late to protect our communities with cost-effective, nature-based approaches for risk reduction, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, LG, and Earth Economics. Natural Defenses from Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Communities and Ecosystems in an Era of Extreme Weather takes an in-depth look at the growing risks we face from these potentially-catastrophic natural hazards, the policy solutions that can safeguard people, property and wildlife habitats, and local case studies that point the way forward. It calls on America to substantially increase our investments in proactive risk reduction measures at a “Marshall Plan” scale that takes into consideration the growing risks from more intense storms, flooding and sea level rise.

Graphics - US Solar Energy 2014

Risk Assessment Causes Swedish Pension Fund to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Based on a comprehensive risk analysis one of Sweden's largest pension funds have decided to divest from fossil fuels. On October 20, 2014, the Second AP Fund announced that it would begin divesting from fossil fuels.

This is but the latest investment fund to divest from fossil fuels in order to mitigate against risks. The Second AP Fund announced that it will divest its holdings in 12 coal and 8 oil-and-gas production companies. This represents a divestment of holdings with a total market value of about SEK 840 million (€91 million or $116 million).

Low Oil Prices will Slow Renewable Energy and Impede the Growth of the Green Economy

With oil prices at a 5-year low, renewable energy and the green economy are being hit with some serious headwinds. Low oil prices are not only detrimental to the growth of renewable energy it is also decreases demand for hybrid and electric cars as well as cleantech in general. High oil prices buoy interest in renewables, while low oil prices put downward pressure on the growth of the low carbon economy.

For more than a quarter century we have been exploring the ways in which oil prices are related to renewable energy. A 1989 World Bank study showed how renewable energy technologies are directly impacted by the price of oil. However this study added the caveat that the impact is muted in remote and rural applications (where fossil fuels are less available).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Winners of ASHRAE 2014 Student Design Competition

In October, ASHRAE announced the winners of their 2014 competition for energy efficient HVAC systems. As reported by Energy Manager Today, the competitors had to design a HVAC system for a two-story office building in New York City with a research and development facility.

HVAC Design Calculations: University of Central Florida

Melting Antarctic Ice is Changing the Earth's Gravitational Field

Antarctic ice is ancient but it is being lost at a precipitous rate. According to recent research, three Antarctic glaciers, are losing approximately 185 billion metric tons (204 billion US tons) of ice each year. In fact, so much ice is being lost at the bottom of the world that it is reportedly changing Earth’s gravity.

As Antarctic ice melts, it shifts mass from the continent into the oceans, slightly changing Earth’s gravitational field in that part of the world. Mass is the source of gravity, so if the crust is thicker in one place than another the thicker part will exert a slightly higher gravitational pull.

As reported in Geophysical Research Letters, the impact on the Earth's gravity field has been documented by orbiting observatories like the Steady State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), and the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

Current Sea Level Rise is Unprecedented in 6000 Years

Sea levels are rising and according to the latest research they are at a 6000 year high. Two forces are combining to accelerate the trend and both are related to global warming. One factor that is contributing to sea level rise is melting ice and the other is thermal expansion.

As the planet warms ice sheets and glaciers melt and the water runs into the oceans. Although this is hardly a new observation, the most recent research indicates that major ice sheets are melting faster than anticipated. Thermal expansion is the process by which warmer ocean water takes up more place as heat increases the space between water molecules.

Climate Action Enhances Profit by 9.6% (2014 CDP Report)

Engaging climate change is becoming almost synonymous with profitability. According to a new study, the more a company does to address climate change the more it appears to profit. This is a solid refutation of the conservative line the we simply cannot afford to manage climate change. It flies in the face of the false argument that we must chose between combating climate change and economic growth.

Companies from Apple to Zurich are showing climate leadership is not only a corporate responsibility it is also spawns a bevy of bottom line benefits. According to new research from CDP, companies that assume the responsibility to engage climate change outperform their peers. In fact, in the period between 2010 and 2014, companies that showed leadership through action to mitigate climate change outperformed the Bloomberg World Index by 9.6 percent.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Event - The Future of Green Schools (teleconference)

On Wednesday, 10/29, at 10:30am MT USGBC Colorado will host a press call (teleconference) to discuss the future of Green Schools with representatives from the Colorado Energy Office, Douglas County School District, Stewart Environmental Consultants, Xcel Energy, and more. Readers of the Green Market Oracle can have a sneak peek invitation only tele-conference that will give you a sneak peak of education issues in advance of election day.

Event - Green Schools Summit Colorado

This event will take place on Friday November 14, 2014 at the University of Denver. The Green Schools Summit draws over 300 attendees and features education breakout sessions and exciting keynote speakers. This year’s theme is 21st Century Schools, they will consider how to design, build and maintain 21st Century Schools. The Green Schools Summit is an annual education and networking event hosted by USGBC Colorado and organized by a dedicated group of volunteers from the Green Schools Initiative.

Event - Conference on Environmental Pollution and Public Health (EPPH 2015)

The 2015 Conference on Environmental Pollution and Public Health (EPPH 2015) will be held from April 10-12, 2015 in Beijing, China. This Conference will cover issues on Environmental Pollution and Public Health. It is dedicated to creating a stage for exchanging the latest research results and sharing advanced research methods.

Course - Education, Ethics and Values for Sustainability

This masterclass on Education, Ethics and Values for Sustainability will take place on June 22 to 26, 2015. The subtitle for the course is "Transformative teaching and learning with the the Earth Charter." This masterclass is designed for educators in formal and informal settings, whether in schools, universities, NGOs, or training centers.

Event - Surviving Climate Change with Natural Defenses (Teleconference Report Release)

This teleconference will take place on October 21, at 10am (ET). October 29th marks the second anniversary of suerstorm Sandy which touched 24 states. Since then, our climate has continued to warm, with April-September 2014 going down as Earth’s hottest six months on record. But at the same time, coastal and riverside development continues to grow, leaving many of our communities just as vulnerable to the effects of global warming as they were when Sandy came roaring ashore.

Questions that will be answered:
  • What lessons have we learned since Sandy about the best strategies to protect our communities, infrastructure and natural resources from more intense storms, sea level rise and flooding? 
  • Will our elected officials begin making the necessary reforms and investments to prepare our communities to endure weather events rather than simply reacting with billions of dollars after a disaster hits?

Event - Green California Schools & Community Colleges Summit

The 8th annual Green California Schools & Community Colleges Summit will be held Nov. 5-6 at the Pasadena Convention Center. The Green Market Oracle is once again proud to be an outreach partner for this important event (see discount information at the bottom of the page).

Green Schools: Investing in Our Future

The Summit offers two days of total immersion in all aspects of green schools. Keynote speakers for this event will be Senator Fran Pavley and Rear Admiral Len Hering. There will be an Expo with over 100 companies offering green products and services, dozens of educational sessions, and special events including a Leadership Awards reception.

Event - Energiewende (Energy Shift): The Remarkable Renewable Energy Transformation in Germany: an inspiration for Alberta

This event will take place on October, 29 2014 - 9am-noon at MacHall A, MacEwan Student Center, University of Calgary main campus. The share of renewable electricity in Germany has risen from 6 percent to nearly 25 percent in only ten years. It is estimated that this share will be more than 40 percent by 2020.

More than two decades ago, Germany adopted the first feed-in-tariff regulation, followed in 2000 of the Renewable Energy Act (EEA), giving priority to renewable energy generation to the grid. The Germany’s development bank KfW was also another tool mobilised in the energy transition: it supports municipalities and other actors to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Video - Naomi Klein Argues Against Capitalism

In this video David Roberts from Grist talks to Naomi Klein about her new book, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate." Klein is described by the New Yorker as "the most visible and influential figure on the American left." Klein starts the interview by explaining that capitalism is a discredited system because it venerates greed above all else.

Video - Naomi Klein on Bottom Up Leadership and "Brutal" Capitalism

Naomi Klein discusses her new book, This Changes Everything, in which she says it's time to stop counting on the politicians to save the planet. The real enemy is the brutal form of capitalism that is fundamentally at odds with what we need to do to combat climate change. She is opposed to deregulation and other tenants of conservatism as espoused by the ruling Canadian Conservative government under Stephen Harper. "We need bold collective action," she said, "beyond individual shopping decisions."

Video - Naomi Klein on Free Market Capitalism: Opportunities Inequality and Climate Change

In this November, 2012 broadcast Bill Moyers interviews Naomi Klein. She says the tragic destruction of Hurricane Sandy can also be the catalyst for the transformation of politics and our economy. "Let's rebuild by actually getting at the root causes. Let's respond by aiming for an economy that responds to the crisis both [through] inequality and climate change," Klein says in this video. Klein believes that to combat the powerful fossil fuel lobby we must cultivate a "bottom-up" approach to change. Klein further believes that to combat climate change must "regulate corporations."

Video - How Economic Inequality Hurts Societies

This TED talk by Richard Wilkinson is prescient in light of a recent report by Standard & Poor's which shows that US economic inequality is at its worst point since the 19th century. Inequality was also the theme of this year's Blog Action Day which took place on October 16th.

In this video, Wilkinson explains how societies with the largest gaps between rich and poor tend to be those with the lowest levels of well-being and satisfaction. Using hard data, Wilkinson also details the detrimental effects from inequality which includes impacts on health, lifespan, trust and respect.

Video - Naomi Klein on Free Market Capitalism and the Dual Crisis of Inequality and Climate Change
Regulation or Revolution
White Paper - A Journey in Search of Capitalism 2.0: Blueprints for a Sustainable Economy
Is Capitalism Sustainable?
Creative Capitalism: Market-Based Social Change
The Green Economy is the Right Solution for our Troubled Times
Video - George Soros Says We Need to Rethink Economic Theory
The False Choice Between the Economy and the Environment
20 Studies Demonstrate the Business Case for Sustainability
Primer on Four Economic Systems
Green Capitalism
Social Capitalism
Creative Capitalism: Market-Based Social Change
Response to Criticism of Cooperation Between Environmental Organizations and Business
A Sustainable World Order

Video - Food By the Numbers: Feeding our Hungry Planet

With the recent World Food Day event on October 16th, this video from National Geographic reviews the challenges and solutions to feeding the world. By 2050, the world's population will likely increase 35 percent. In this video National Geographic provides some answers to this crisis beyond simply growing more food.

Video - Birds are Under Threat from Climate Change

Birds are under threat from a wide range of anthropogenic causes but none are more serious than climate change. Global warming threatens the survival of nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Infographic - Anthropogenic Bird Mortality

White House Releases Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the White House recently announced the release of the Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda. The agenda supports a number of actions designed to foster climate change resilience.

This agenda was prepared by the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Climate and Natural Resources Working Group. It applies to all Federal Government agencies including FEMA.

FEMA's New Policy will Combat Global Warming and put Pressure on Climate Denying Republican Governors

A policy change at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will now include combating global warming in addition to helping communities recover from natural disasters. This new policy may even force climate denying Republican governors to act.

In July, 2014, President Obama announced that states will need to include details of how they are preparing for climate change to qualify for preparedness funds. FEMA's policy shift is one of the recommendations of President Obama State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience which was established in 2013.

To qualify for FEMA's preparedness funding states must now conduct a formal analysis of climate risks. They must also enact policies and projects that make them less vulnerable. This includes everything from building retrofits to flood zones.

Anthropogenic Causes of Bird Mortality: Climate Change, Fossil Fuels and Renewable Energy

Human activities cause millions of bird deaths each year. Climate change is a serious threat to bird populations and the burning of fossil fuels are the leading cause of global warming. While fossil fuel induced climate change is the single greatest threat to birds, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar have negligible impacts. Other salient causes of bird mortality are habitat loss, domestic cats, buildings, power lines, transmission towers, contaminates and aviation.

According to the most recent Living Planet Report, birds are among the species that have been reduced by more than half over the last forty years.There are currently a total of 9,956 birds that are listed as endangered.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sustainability Programs at Wellington Middle School and Lesher Middle School

In September, the US Department of Education's Green Strides Best Practices Tour rolled through schools in Colorado. Both Wellington Middle School and Lesher Middle School were recognized for demonstrating sustainable practices and environmental leadership. Both schools have developed novel programs to keep students engaged in sustainability.

Wellington has what is known as the Eco-Club which is made up of students who work to keep the school focused on saving energy, recycling, and tracking the school’s wind turbine energy data.

Students take the information they learn in school at see them in action at a local dairy, and sewage and water treatment facilities. They are also host to what is known as the Innovation Camp, a STEM camp for middle school students across northern Colorado.

Lesher has a sustainability class and they have organized a Bike-to-School Week, which encourages 40 percent of students and staff to cycle 4,000 miles in an Iron Viking Adventure Race. In 2006 they invested $3.7 million in an energy efficient new media center, fitness center, art room, and general education classrooms. This includes unit ventilators, solar tubes, double-pane thermal windows, solar shades, and new lighting.

This comprehensive green school helps students to identify the implications of their actions. They focus on collaborative green building practices and conservation behaviors.

Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 200 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student's eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

Showing Support for Family Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture

Family farmers are extremely valuable yet they are under siege and need our support. World Food Day 2014 shines a spotlight on the world's 500 million family farmers. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that based on data from 93 countries, family farmers account for an average of 80 percent of all holdings, and are the main producers of food that is consumed locally. Family farmers are also sustainable farmers. Sadly family farmers are disappearing at an alarming rate. Family farms that used to be an important source of rural jobs.

As explained in a foodtank article

"The world cannot do without the family farmer," says Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator for FAO. "It’s because of the family farmer that we eat a variety of healthy foods every day. And yet, family farmers still make up the majority of poor and hungry people in the world. We must do more to incentivize, celebrate and exponentially improve the lives of family farmers to ensure all people have access to fresh, healthy food."

Infographic - Biodiversity for Family Farming

World Food Day 2014: Assessing US Agricultural Risks and Focusing on Family Farms

October 16th is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ designated World Food Day. This event was first celebrated thirty three years ago. The theme for 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”, drawing global attention to the importance of smallholder farmers. Family farms are key to improving food security and better management of natural resources. As explained by the CGIAR Consortium, "Family farming plays a significant role in reducing poverty and hunger, by providing the household and communities with nutrition rich food and livelihoods."

Regulation or Revolution

The increasing economic inequality in the distribution of wealth is among the many weaknesses of our capitalist system. This issue is prescient in light of a recent report by Standard & Poor's which shows that US economic inequality is at its worst point since the 19th century.

The issue of inequality cannot be ignored as it poses a real danger to social peace and economic stability. 

The problem is understandably framed by some as one of insatiable greed and this in turn augers rebellious sentiments. This article argues that the solution is regulation not violent revolution.

This is an edited repost for Blog Action Day.  Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings people together around an important theme each year and in 2014 the focus is inequality. On previous Blog Action Days people from diverse walks of life in different countries and different languages have rallied around themes like Water, Climate Change, Food, the Power of We and Human rights.

This year as with previous years, many will reiterate various takes on the same old paradigms. This will include thousands of different ways of saying "Business is Bad" and "capitalism must go." However these messages are commonly far too facile to produce the kind of changes we need to see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Table - Temperature Records 1880 - 2014 (NASA)

Record Breaking Heat Suggests Accelerated Warming

We are experiencing record breaking heat in 2014 and it may be the beginning of an accelerated global warming trend. We have witnessed record breaking temperatures both in September and in the last six months. According to a recently released NASA report, last month was the warmest September ever documented and the last six months were collectively the warmest middle half of the year ever recorded.

The record breaking heat started in the month of April, a month which the National Climatic Data Center, ranked as the warmest April on record. This was also the first month in at least 800,000 years that atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million. April was followed by the warmest May and June on record. The month of July was the fourth warmest on record and this was followed by the warmest August ever recorded. The period from January through September is the third warmest on record.

Current levels of warming are unprecedented since the dawn of human civilization (at least 4,000 years). The only reason we are not experiencing even more warming is due to the fact that the oceans have absorbed much of the heat. However, the oceans may not be able to absorb much more heat and this will accelerate land based warming.

Graphs: Warmest Ever Global Average Temperatures Recorded in September

Kinard Middle School Recognized by the US Department of Education

On September 17th, the US Department of Education's Green Strides Best Practices Tour rolled through Kinard Middle School in Colorado. The schools was recognized for demonstrating sustainable practices and environmental leadership..Kinard Middle School is a leader in environmental stewardship, health, and environmental education. Perhaps most importantly the school provides students with a learning experience that engage them in their communities.

One of the schools initiatives is called Kinard C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Action, Results, Environment, Service). This program is focused on inspiring change in the school and community through service-learning projects. The effort has resulted in some pretty impressive annual accomplishments. One of these is the composting of over 20,000 lbs. of food waste each year and diverting approximately 70 percent trash from the landfill annually. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quebecers Protest Energy East Pipeline and Terminal

On October 11, People came together to protest against TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline and the international oil port that they want to build in Cacouna, near Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec. This was the largest protest ever staged in Cacouna. There were more than 2000 people present for the protest which is more than the entire population of the small village.