Paul Birkeland

Paul Birkeland

Posts by This Writer

10 years 3 weeks ago

I recently read a report that concluded that buying lettuce from Morocco in London resulted in a smaller carbon footprint than buying local lettuce grown outside London. The conlcusion being that we really shouldn't use food-miles as a measure of sustainability, that the free market has worked all this out for us. What's wrong with this picture?

Well, first of all a little digging dispelled the conundrum. The study assumed a consumer bought the lettuce in January. It assumed that the local English lettuce grew in a heated greenhouse under artificial lighting using conventional (fossil fuel based) fertilizers and...

10 years 1 month ago

I once walked up the Pacific Coast of the US from Los Angeles to Seattle. I walked the highway shoulder a lot, peeling off onto dirt roads where I could, and even down to the beach where that was possible. It took five months.

An interesting thing happened along the way. Someone would often tell me, "People around here are really friendly and always willing to help. But be a bit more careful when you get to (name-the-town). They're a little different." But when I got to (name-the-town) of course, the people there were just as friendly and just as quick to warn me about people up the coast a ways.

I think about this when I think of climate change....

10 years 1 month ago

There's an invisible rift in the CSR world. It's a philosophical rift that manifests itself in how we use energy and generate emissions. It profoundly proscribes the "solution space" we allow ourselves to reduce our energy consumption. And I think it would be good for each of us, but particularly CSR directors, to articulate their positions on this one.

The rift is between those who feel that we can address our rampant energy consumption by simply doing things differently, and those who feel that doing things differently is not enough. That we have to do different things.

A recent blog entry on...