Environment and Climate Change News

Climate Risking the Trump Brand

Guest blog by Hazel Henderson, Ethical Markets

Chinese Wind Company to Provide Free Job Training to Wyoming Coal Miners

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — There’s an old saying that goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That‘s what Goldwind Americas, a division of a major Chinese manufacturer of wind turbines is hoping that coal miners, particularly in Wyoming, will soon be saying about wind power. The company is making a special effort to hire American workers to maintain the equipment for the wind farms that are now popping up around the state. They just announced a new free training program called Goldwind Works for wind turbine technicians, one of the fastest growing jobs in the country. Employment for wind power technicians is expected to grow by 104% between 2014-2024. While coal miners work well beneath the ground and wind technicians work well above it, both need to be able to work in difficult conditions and both need electrical and mechanical skills. It’s a good long-term strategy for the Chinese, who know how to think long term, leading to a broader acceptance of wind power in a region that has long opposed it.

The technicians will be needed at a new wind farm in Carbon County (Pop. 15,885), where, ironically, the first coal mine in the state opened just after the Civil War. The new Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm, will be operated by the Power Company of Wyoming, which just received a permit to build the $5 billion project last month. It will be the largest onshore wind farm in the US. Once the nearly 1,000 turbines have been installed, some 200 workers will remain to maintain them.

Just a year ago, the NY Times reported on a generation of coal miners that were leaving Wyoming after being laid off from mines that had been operating there for decades. Robert W. Godby, a Professor of Economics at the University of Wyoming, told the Times that the state could lose up to 10,000 coal industry jobs over the next few years. According to this Sierra Club report, Wyoming is one of only six states with more jobs in fossil fuels than renewables. (Overall, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by a factor of 2.5 to 1.) But not all those jobs are mining jobs. That’s because there’s another big difference between wind and coal beside the fact that wind power is cleaner; wind is also far more productive and less expensive to operate. Once a wind turbine is installed, no trainloads of fuel are required to keep it going. A number of those fossil fuel jobs will remain however, since natural gas is the county’s primary export today.

San Antonio Develops Innovative Water Conservation Techniques

Back in 1993, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), a local utility, realized that the area would need more water sources. The state mandated withdrawal reductions from the Edwards Aquifer, one of the three aquifers San Antonio depends on for its water supply. SAWS began water conservation programs and added recycled water. 

Leading Companies Move from Linear to Circular Economy

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In a linear economy, inputs and manufacturing process move in a single direction, and end products ultimately end up in landfills and oceans. Some of the leading companies are abandoning this traditional economy model and are gravitating toward the circular economy. The circular economy model is based on the recovery, reuse, and regeneration of materials.

Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Confronting Challenges, Building Bridges

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Here are some more takeaways from Sustainable Brands17 Detroit.

If we are to realize any kind of vision of a sustainable society, we must confront the idea that truth is negotiable. As author and consultant Andrew Winston said, “We need a working democracy, checks and balances, a free press.” We need the truth.  But what is the truth? For scientists and judges, the truth is found in facts. For most of the rest of us, the truth lies in the stories we choose to believe. As Upworthy’s Jennifer Lindenauer said in her “Trust is Tribal” talk, “facts fade, stories stick. Donald Trump tells stories that stick even though they are lies.” Why do they stick?  How does a liar get away with calling the bastions of journalistic integrity fake news? According to Lindenauer, it’s because the opposite of fake is authentic. Trump may have a myriad of deplorable qualities, but he is authentically Trump, and for better or for worse, for many, that authenticity begets trust. What that means for us is that we need to confront self-serving lies, with authentic stories of a sustainable future, that people will trust.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan said, ‘trust but verify,” with respect to a nuclear-arms deal with the former Soviet Union. Author Andrew Zolli described an ongoing effort by Planet Labs to take a complete, high-resolution picture of the entire Earth every single day. This will allow us to not only verify, but discover countless things that are happening on Earth, both as a result of human activities and the everything-else that we refer to as nature. For example, the images were able to detect a rapidly expanding illegal gold mining operation in Peru. As a result of the discovery, the operation was quickly shut down. While some might consider this type of truth and its consequences a form of “burdensome government regulation,” most of us would applaud it as a win for the planet. These photos could also be used to track deforestation, the growth of electricity, agricultural productivity, the growth or decline of deserts, rivers and lakes, the expansion of refugee camps, and with the help of sophisticated algorithms-- the loss of carbon due to land use changes. All these facts, could be used to fuel new and urgent stories that could potentially cut through the ideological fog. For example, as Zolli said, once we have a price on carbon, we can put a value on the forest that is being lost every day. At a time when EPA administrators are making policy that could impact the future of the entire biosphere, based on rumors and amateur science, such as the notion that there was a leveling off of warming over the past two decades, we need to verify before we can trust, as a number of scientists just did.

FedEx Is Reducing Its Environmental Footprint

Getting packages and documents delivered on time creates a big environmental footprint, but FedEx wants to change that. The company avoided over two million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) with fuel and energy saving initiatives. That amount of CO2e is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by over 1.9 million acres of U.S. forest in a year.

Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Looks For and Finds Common Ground

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — At the onset of Day Two of SB17 Detroit, the thinking behind the conference title, “Redefining the Good Life,” began to reveal itself. A subtext running through the event, like an underground spring, has been the notion that the polarization of our society has become a major barrier to the achievement of a sustainable, flourishing future. That’s why a number of workshops on topics such as “Breaking Through Gridlock,” and “ How to Have Difficult Conversations: Building Bridges in a Divided Country,” are being presented, acknowledging and attempting to address this challenge. The data presented by Solitaire Townsend of Futerra, and later by others, offered some hope that this challenge could  potentially yield.


According to Harris poll data, taken across generations and political parties, all people essentially agree on the fundamental constituents of the good life. These consist of the following four elements: balanced simplicity, meaningful connections, financial independence, and personal goals. If we all want the same things, it will be far easier to come up with a plan that we can all agree on—it’s only the “how do we get there” part that needs to be resolved. That’s not exactly a walk in the park, but its far easier than if we’d all wanted different things.


Solitaire also shared a pertinent quote from the Bard, “All things are ready if our minds be so,” and an invocation of what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Erica Parker of Harris, carried the story forward with the thought that “If you are not disrupting, you will be disrupted.”
Sharing more data, Parker said that 71% of adults today said that their lives were different than their parents, while 45% said it would be different for their children. As consumers, 51% believe that companies care, though 65% feel that products do , to contribute to a better life. At the same time, while 65% feel that they, as consumers, can influence companies, only 28% say that they have actually tried.


Chris Coulter of GlobeScan and Raphael Bemporad of  BBMG shared results of another survey in which 16,000 people from around the world said that these were the four primary elements of a good life: health & well-being, financial security, meaningful relationships,  and a sense of purpose. Note the similarities to the other poll.  So what’s the problem? For starters massive income inequality, lack of access, and a disconnect between, “aspirations and capacity.”
Oxfam reported that the wealthiest eight people on the planet own as much as the  lowest 3.4 billion people. Trust in institutions is very low. So what to do?

HanesBrands Practices Good Water Management

Water is a precious resource, as anyone who has lived through a drought can tell you. HanesBrands is a company that grasps the importance of water management.

Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Sets Out to Redefine the Good Life


(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Sustainable Brands kicked off their 2017 event in downtown Detroit with a record crowd of over 2,000 attendees.  After a day filled with extended interactive workshops, the official welcome ceremony featured a who’s who of sustainability thought leaders. Koann Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Brands, welcomed the crowd that packed the Cobo Center’s main hall. She set a somewhat sober tone for the event, citing that we live in an age of unintended consequences, and that we have clearly gotten off track in our pursuit of happiness. “Our push for productivity and efficiency has inclined us to forget how inextricably connected we are.”
But, she said, “Businesses are uniquely equipped…to help us shape our collective future.” Describing the decision to move from San Diego to Detroit, she called the actively rejuvenating Motor City, ‘a fantastic living lab.” Indeed Detroit could be the poster child for a place where the industrial age has run its course and is now ready for what comes next. Citing Harris poll data, she said that a clear shift is happening across the US in the definition of the good life.


Next, Kim Patel Ford’s VP of Sustainability spoke. Quoting her boss, Bill Ford, who she was standing in for, she said, “You can do good work for the planet and for the company.” Describing the company’s shifting commitment to mobility, she quoted Mayor Mike Dugan, who said, “Great if you have a good job, but if you can’t get there, what’s the point.” 

 
Cradle to Cradle originator Will McDonough made a number of terse, but punchy points.   
How do we make the world better because we are here?
Being less bad is not being good.
We need to think differently about carbon. There are three types: Fugitive carbon, Durable Carbon, and Living Carbon  We need less of the first one and more of the other two
By 2050, the weight of plastics in the ocean will be equal to the weight of all the fish.
As a roadmap for making things better he suggested five goods, to take the place of the numerous less bads.
Good Materials are safe, healthy, biological.
A Good Economy is circular, sharing, and shared
Good Energy is clean and renewable.
Good Water is clean and available.
A Good Life is creative and dignified.
What’s next is what’s now.
How much can we give for all that we get?  
Goodness is a living things.
It’s going to take forever, but that’s the point.

Walmart’s Zach Freeze to Keynote at B2B Climate Solutions Event

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – People around the world now recognize that climate change poses an imminent threat to the prosperity of future generations. With the passage of time, it has become clear that the solutions must be business-driven. Several large companies are now stepping up and making it their mission to lead this fight from the front.

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