Friday, October 31, 2014

Infographic - Energy Vampires

Halloween Campaign Opposing the Energy East Pipeline

The Energy East pipeline is a climate nightmare. A Halloween campaign from is protesting the pipeline project. As they explain, "climate change is scary -- and so is the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed. What's even scarier is that this monster of a tar sands pipeline, TransCanada's Energy East project, wont receive a climate review."

If it is allowed to go forward, it will have a climate impact equivalent to over 7 million cars. That is why is shining a light on the Energy East climate nightmare this Halloween.

This Halloween, is encouraging people to carve "#NoEnergyEast Jack-O-Lanterns." They suggest that people deliver these pumpkins to their local elected offical's office or home.

Six Simple Steps for a Greener Halloween

While Halloween can be an environmental nightmare, there are some ways to make it far less ecologically destructive. Here are six simple tips to help you and your kids enjoy a greener Halloween. This is also a great opportunity to communicate the practical applications of environmental sustainability to your children.

1. Decorations

Instead of buying materials for decorations, make your own using materials you have on hand. Avoid the technological gadgets that get used but once a year and often contain toxic materials that do not biodegrade.

Because they naturally biodegrade, pumpkins, gourds and leaves are some of the best decorations. Buy pumpkins from local farmers or better yet grow your own. Use the seeds in your pumpkin and the flesh. If you do not eat your pumpkin make sure you compost it rather than throwing it out and having it end up in a landfill.

Halloween is a Retailers Dream and an Environmental Nightmare

While Halloween may be a retailers dream, from an environmental perspective it is a nightmare. On this day consumers generate a mountain of waste including tons of non-biodegradable candy wrappers and plastic items like decorations and costumes. After an apparent decline last year, Halloween appears to be growing in popularity and it is expected that Americans will increase their spending in 2014.

During the period between October and December, retailers make up as much as 30 percent of their yearly sales numbers. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are expected to spend a total of 7.4 billion on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards this year. This represents a 7 percent increase over last year.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Infographic - Fossil Fuel Subsidies and the US Congress

Phase One of a Massive Solar Project Competed at the University of Arizona

The first phase of a 1 megawatt solar project has been completed at the University of Arizona's Tech Park Solar Zone. Phase one occupies 165 acres of land. It will produce renewable energy for Tucson Electric Power (TEP) using Cogenra solar panels. The facility is owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems under a 20-year power purchase agreement with TEP.

Our Planet's Primal Scream -- Is Anyone Listening?

This editorial by California Senator Barbara Boxer was published in the Huffington Post on October 24, 2014. Her editorial is prescient in light of the forthcoming midterm elections on November 4th 2014. Senator Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. She is a champion of climate legislation and efforts to create clean energy jobs and craft a 21st century transportation policy. ___________________________

Democrats Getting Paid to Oppose Climate Change

For Democrats climate denial can be lucrative and the longer you hold out the more you get paid. Although the number of Democrats who deny the existence of climate change is dwindling, those who support the fossil fuel industry and oppose climate legislation are getting millions from the oil and gas industry.

If you follow the science or even know how to read, it is hard to understand how anyone could ignore the overwhelming body of evidence supporting climate change. It is especially hard to understand how these officials could support the fossil fuel industry and oppose climate legislation.

Republicans ignore climate change as part of a party wide strategy to oppose President Obama and support the fossil fuel industry. Resistance to climate action from a Democrat's perspective seems somewhat incomprehensible, that is until you factor the financial incentives. To illustrate the point, consider what Democrats in Arkansas and Alaska are getting in return for their fossil fuel advocacy and refusal to support climate legislation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Europe Leads the Way Towards a Global Climate Agreement

As responsible governments prepare for a global climate treaty in Paris next year, Europe is leading by example. In October European heads of state unanimously endorsed a binding deal that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by forty percent over the next 15 years compared to 1990 levels. They also adopted a non-binding series of agreements that would increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This is yet another reason to buoy optimism that a global climate agreement can be reached in 2015. Some Europeans wanted even more ambitious targets to further reduce the continent's reliance on natural gas and provide jobs in the green energy sectors.

Europe's leadership is welcome news as we await a draft climate treaty which is scheduled to be produced in Lima, Peru this December. National declarations are due in the early part of 2015. It is clear that the world must go far beyond the tepid pledges made at the Copenhagen talks in 2009.

An Upside to Low Oil Prices?

While there is a clear downside to lower oil prices for renewable energy, there may also be a silver lining. Low oil prices are bad for renewable energy, but if they fall low enough they could decrease extraction of some of the dirtiest fossil fuels.

Declining oil prices are attributable to the fact that there is now more supply than demand. The low oil prices may be part of an effort by OPEC to leverage market forces that will slow extraction of tar sands oil in North America.

Climate Change in the Levant and Socio Economic Impacts

In addition to a multitude of very serious challenges, the Levant is also plagued by climate change. Chances are when we here about the region known as the Levant it is in connection with Islamist fighters known as ISIS/ISIL or authoritarian regimes like that Bashar al Assad in Syria. However, climate change may prove to be an even more pernicious tyrant. Many reports predict that the Levant region is highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly as it applies to water scarcity. One such report is titled, "Freshwater vulnerability in the Levant region."

The Levant, also known as the Eastern Mediterranean, is a geographic and cultural region consisting of the eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt. The Levant today consists of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Syria, and part of southern Turkey. This area is already suffering from climate change and water scarcity in particular.

Climate Denial will Soon be Political Suicide

Although climate denial is a central tenant of the Republican party today, this position may soon prove to be politically untenable.

Speaking at Yale University, on Tuesday, October 14th, the United States' lead climate negotiator said that climate change denial could soon become a political liability.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NWF EcoLeaders Community

NWF’s EcoLeaders is the first online community of its kind where student leaders can connect with student leaders across the country for support and inspiration. They can also access resources, start projects and track actions and share updates. Those who participate in EcoLeaders earn national recognition for demonstrated leadership skills and positive impact on the environment.

Chart - Efficiency National Rankings (GGEI)

Chart - Green Investments and Markets National Rankings (GGEI)

Polling Data: Climate Change and the US Midterm Elections

According to US polls, Americans acknowledge that climate change is real, however, this does not mean that it is an issue that will sway electoral outcomes. While a solid majority of Americans want to the US to do more to manage climate change, it is not perceived as either one of the top threats facing the country or a priority issue. Consequently it is unlikely to figure prominently as an election issue in the forthcoming midterms.

In Pew Research’s 2014 Political Typology survey,  61 percent of Americans said there is solid evidence that Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. However, 18 percent said the warming mostly because of natural environmental patterns.

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Supports Immediate Emissions Reduction

Dr. Jean Tirole is the winner of the 2014 prize for economics, he is also a powerful supporter of a global agreement to reign in emissions. What makes his support for climate change mitigation so important is the fact that he has such a profound understanding of both the behavior of markets and regulation. Both of which are central to a global emissions reduction scheme.

While some of Tirole's research has focused on climate change, his Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded for his analysis of market power and regulation in natural monopolies and oligopoly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chart - Sustainable Buildings National Rankings (GGEI)

Chart - Green Cities Ranking (GGEI)

Ranking of National Performance in the Green Economy (GGEI)

Systems Thinking and Sustainability

Sustainability and a systems approach fit together seamlessly. Systems thinking is essential to effectively managing the diverse array of elements associated with sustainability. Managing the various aspects of a sustainability strategy can be daunting. The amount of information available to business leaders today is unprecedented and this data can become disconnected from an organizations overarching goals. A systems approach enables business leaders to make better use of the panoply of available information.

Global Green Economy Index 2014

The 4th edition of the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) uses data and indicators to rank 60 countries and 70 cities. The report's publisher Dual Citizen LLC measured four dimensions in defining a green economy - political leadership & climate change, efficiency sectors, markets & investment, and environment & natural capital. Their performance and perception calculations reference both public and internally-generated datasets to calculate the rankings.

The Business of Sustainability: A Frame for Analysis and an Antidote to Short Term Thinking

Sustainability can offer businesses a map of the terrain, a method by which to navigate and a capitalization strategy. By assessing information through the lens of sustainability, business leaders are able to make better decisions that position their organizations for success. Sustainability is no long a niche approach, it is now flourishing into a strategic imperative. In fact it is becoming inextricably linked to due diligence and financial value. Quantitative approaches to sustainability can be key success factors that buoy the bottom line. Analyzing, reporting and benchmarking data can increase revenue, strengthen brands, minimize costs and manage risk.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Event - Solar Network Summit

This event will take place on October 29-30 in Washington, DC. Distributed solar has the potential to be a trillion dollar industry. This invitation-only conference of principal players in the solar industry is Powered by Distributed Sun and the Distribute Solar Network team.

Event - International Conference on Ocean Energy

This event will take place on November 4-6, 2014 at the World Trade & Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.The 5th International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE), is a global event focused on the industrial development of marine renewable energy. The three day conference includes an exhibition with 50-70 booths, reception, gala dinner and technical tours within Nova Scotia.

Hosted by Marine Renewables Canada in partnership with the Government of Canada, Government of Nova Scotia, and Offshore Energy Research Association, the 2014 ICOE will be a North American first.

Event - Net Impact Conference and Expo: Breaking Boundaries

This event will take place on November 6-8, 2014 in Minneapolis. The Net Impact Conference and Expo is subtitled, "Breaking Boundaries," referring to their desire leave limits behind, forge unexpected alliances, and explore creative solutions—to transform the world.

This event will be attended by 2,700 emerging leaders, 350 inspirational speakers and more than 100 sessions.

Event - Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development

This event will take place on November 24 - 26, 2014 in Singapore. To achieve true prosperity, governments, business and civil society must look beyond short-term economic needs to achieve a more sustainable and equitable growth path. Our actions need to be shaped and guided by a better understanding of the interaction between our natural, economic and social systems.

Event - AASHE Conference and Expo

This event will take place on October 26 - 29, 2014. With nearly 2,000 participants, AASHE's annual conference is the largest gathering of higher education sustainability professionals and students in North America. In one of the most innovative sustainable cities in North America, attendees from around the world will come together at AASHE 2014 to network and share new innovations, activities, frameworks, learning outcomes, tools, strategies, research, theory and leadership initiatives that are changing the face of sustainability on their campus and surrounding communities.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Video - The Mission and Goals of the Center for Green Schools.

On Saturday, September 28th, the Center for Green Schools (a USGBC program) sponsored its second annual global Green Apple Day of Service. Companies, parents, teachers, students, and other organizations engaged in local service projects with the goal of eventually transforming all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments.

Video - The Psychology Behind our Inaction on Climate Change

This video explains the psychology of why we have yet to adequately acknowledge and respond to climate change. This TEDx talk features Dan Miller, managing director and co-founder of The Roda Group, a cleantech venture capital group based in Berkeley, California. Miller discusses the fact that as a slow moving and seemingly invisible threat humans are not evolutionarily programed to respond to climate change. Miller goes on to discuss a Fee and Dividend approach as a model for solving the climate crisis. This approach inspires innovation and will help usher in a new energy economy.

Video - Green California Schools Summit: Why Attend

Who should attend?

Representatives from public, public charter and private schools, and their private sector partners, including:

Video - Companies Combating Climate Change (CDP Report)

In this video, Lord Adair Turner, Former Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, James Bevan, Chief Investment Officer at CCLA and Paul Simpson talk about the CDP report which ranks companies in terms of their climate performance. This report comes on the heels of Standard & Poor's Ratings Services which stated that climate change will hit countries' economic growth rates and public finances. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently said that climate change is, "the single biggest risk that exists to the economy today."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Infographic - The Cost of Hurricanes in the US

Environmental Education in Islam (Nura A. Abboud)

In the Islamic world people are advocating for environmental education. The relationship between environmental education and Islam is eloquently articulated in an article by Nura A. Abboud, a molecular biologist and an environmental activist. She is the Founder of the Jordanian Society for Microbial Biodiversity (JMB).

"Islam considers seeking knowledge as an obligation. Islam teaches its followers to keep streets clean, to help animals and any living being, prohibits the pollution of water, prohibits cutting down a fruitful tree and preserves the components of the environment. Islam also sets legislation for cultivating land and benefiting from it," Abboud says.

The Economic Costs of Canada's Oil Obsession

Canada's dependence on fossil fuels not only contributes to climate change it represents a serious threat to the economy. As oil prices plummet to a five year low, the Canadian economy is feeling the heat.  The declining price of hydrocarbons have driven down the value of the Canadian dollar and impacted stock prices on the TSE.

Canada's ruling Conservatives have bet on oil and this has disastrous implications for all Canadians. The fact that Canada is so closely tied to fossil fuels means that the nation's petro-currency is subject to profound market volatility.

Canadian Patriotism and What it Means to Love our Country

As Canadians come together to mourn the tragic murder of a soldier on parliament hill we should take stock of the love that we feel for this great land and stand up in her defense. We weep for the soldier that was killed and we resolve not to be cowed by the callous contempt of cowards who senselessly kill as an expression of their profound confusion. The name of the shooter who took the life of Nathan Cirillo should be forgotten by history. While at the same time we must do our utmost to find the handful of mentally and morally ill people who would destroy our society.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Four Steps to Helping the World's Poor Manage Climate Change

Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s climate change advocacy coordinator, has proposed steps to help less developed nations manage climate change. Many of these steps leverage work that has already been done. Now the way must be cleared to ensure that these elements are part of the negotiating process ahead of the 2015 deadline for a global climate agreement.

To help work towards an agreement that assists the world's most vulnerable people, Harmeling's has proposed four steps

Helping Developing Nations is Key to a Global Climate Agreement

Poor nations will suffer the impacts of climate change more than wealthier nations even though they have contributed the least to climate change. If we are to succeed in securing a global climate agreement in 2015, we will have to come to terms with the need to help the least developed nations.

Nepal's Prakash Mathema, is the leading the UN climate change negotiator for the 48 nations that comprise the Least Developed Countries Group (LDC).  These nations are dependent on assistance in the form of what is known as the Green Climate Fund.

As explained by Mathema, "If the global response to climate change does not give adequate attention to the circumstances and needs of the most vulnerable, then it cannot be equitable."

Record Breaking Solar Plant at UC Davis

California is well known for its renewable energy and its green schools but UC Davis is taking it up a notch by adding a massive solar array to their standing as a sustainability leader. Once built this will be the largest solar energy project in the University of California system and the largest solar power plant to offset electricity demand at a US university or college campus.

The project is expected to reduce the campus' carbon footprint by 9 percent. Upon completion, a total of one-third of total campus electricity demand will be served with carbon-neutral energy. The 16MW, solar power plant is expected to generate 14 per cent of UC Davis' electricity needs (33 million kilowatt-hours out of 228 million kilowatt-hours per year).

Reasons to be Optimistic about a Global Climate Agreement

Despite a number of remaining hurdles, there have been several positive developments that support the idea that we may succeed in securing a global climate agreement in 2015. Adding to the optimism of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, we have seen constructive French diplomacy and national climate legislation in three countries. While there is much more that needs to be done there has also been some progress on the Green Climate Fund. Finally China has indicated that it would present its contributions and perhaps even cap its emissions and some less developed nations are also doing their part.

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.