I’ve written and talked about this for years. It’s not getting any less significant.
Smart money is betting on sustainability and renewable technology. There’s a new sense of urgency, because in states like mine, where the anti-science crowd has done their best to hold up progress, there is a real threat to the health of our major utilities if we do not update our regulatory structures fast enough to keep up with new technology, and the increasing recognition by the financial community that sustainable business will soon be the only business.
Climate Deniers, WindBaggers and the “Agenda 21″ crowd will take this as more evidence of the vast, left wing conspiracy.
Guys, if you want to argue the science of interdependence, don’t look at me. Take it up with the capitalists at Walmart.
According to a recent survey conducted by SRI, 65 percent of retail investors and 53 percent of institutional investors are currently expressing interest in fossil fuel-free portfolios in reaction to climate change. More than 2,000 SRI industry professionals took the First Affirmative Financial Network’s Fossil Fuels Divestment Survey in anticipation of the 24th annual SRI Conference taking place October 28-30 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Other key survey findings include:
- 77 percent see growing risks for investors associated with fossil fuel company holdings in their investment portfolios.
- 30 percent of those surveyed either already do – or are getting ready to – offer fossil-fuel free portfolios to investors.
- 63 percent believe that investors will in the next 10 years start divesting in meaningful numbers from fossil-fuel companies due to climate change implications of such energy sources.
Since launching its sustainability program in 2006, Walmart has reduced energy consumption in its stores, installed solar panels on its rooftops, curbed emissions from its trucks and recycled millions of tons of its trash. Now that the world’s biggest retailer has streamlined its own operations, it is turning its attention elsewhere — actually, almost everywhere.
Since last fall, Walmart has rolled out what it callsa supplier sustainability index to thousands of suppliers, asking them pointed questions about their operations and prodding them to better understand and manage their own supply chains.
It’s Walmart’s most ambitious environmental project ever, and if all goes according to plan, it will change the way all kinds of consumer products — clothes, toys, electronics, food and beverages — are made. The typical Walmart stocks 125,000 to 150,000 products (!), and the environmental and social performance of most companies that make them soon will be rated and ranked in Bentonville, Ark.
So Walmart is asking lots of questions of its suppliers. Among them:
Among the big lies that windbaggers like to spread about wind energy, there are 2 that come up a lot.
One is that wind turbines kill a lot of birds, relative to other human activities.
The other is that windbaggers give a damn about birds.
There are many ways to classify the impacts of electricity generation on wildlife. Effects can be direct and/or indirect; acute or chronic; individual or cumulative; and local, regional, or global. Each type of effect was explored in this study. Acidic deposition, climate change, and mercury bioaccumulation are identified as the three most significant and widespread stressors to wildlife from electricity generation from fossil fuels combustion in the NY/NE region.
Risks to wildlife vary substantially by life cycle stage. Higher risks are generally associated with the resource extraction and power generation stages, as compared to other life cycle stages. Overall, non-renewable electricity generation sources, such as coal and oil, pose higher risks to wildlife than renewable electricity generation sources, such as hydro and wind. Based on the comparative amounts of SO2, NOx, CO2, and mercury emissions generated from coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro and the associated effects of acidic deposition, climate change, and mercury bioaccumulation, coal as an electricity generation source is by far the largest contributor to risks to wildlife found in the NY/NE region.
..wind farms are responsible for roughly 0.27 avian fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while nuclear power plants involve 0.6 fatalities per GWh and fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 9.4 fatalities per GWh. Within the uncertainties of the data used, the estimate means that wind farm-related avian fatalities equated to approximately 46,000 birds in the United States in 2009, but nuclear power plants killed about 460,000 and fossil-fueled power plants 24 million.
To recap, about 46,000 avian mortalities were associated with wind farms across the United States in 2009 but nuclear plants killed about 458,000 and fossil-fueled power plants almost 24 million, estimates illustrated by Figure 2. Figure 2 also reveals how the number of absolute birds killed by wind energy pales in comparison to other causes such as
windows and cats. Regardless of where the wind turbines are located, by minimizing reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power, they prevent the death and injury of wildlife that would otherwise occur across the world’s coal mines, uranium tail
ponds, oil refineries, natural gas facilities, uranium acidified forests, polluted lakes, and habitats soon to be threatened by climate change.
Although most evaluations of the beneficial effects of wind-generated electricity, including the present one, have addressed the degree to which they reduce (through displacement) atmospheric emissions, other important effects are potentially displaced as well. For example, obtaining fossil fuel through mining, drilling, and chemical modification of one form to another (e.g., gasification of coal) has a variety of environmental effects including loss of habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species.
Operation of thermal (energy generation units), which generate heat to drive turbines, produces heated water, either from cooling or in the form of steam to drive the turbines, or both. If the energy from the heated water is not recovered, the water is usually discharged into the environment; in closed cooling systems, its heat is discharged. All forms of generation have associated life-cycle emissions and wastes along with other environmental effects that are affected by the design, materials provision (including mining), manufacture, construction, transportation, assembly, operation, maintenance, retrofits, and decommissioning of the generators and their associated infrastructure. Some of these stages of the life cycle—most notably, mining—have adverse effects on human health as well.
May 17, 2013
In the past year, we’ve seen images of extreme pollution events across China, far in excess of anything that would be tolerated in developed countries.
What’s been largely uncovered by mainstream media in the west, are the protests and demonstrations, sometimes violent, that have been breaking out against new coal power stations, oil and gas development, and polluting industries across China.
It’s a standard climate denial talking point that “whatever we do will make no difference because China yada yada”. Time to put that one to rest. Not only has China been leading the world in the development of renewable energy, but has now begun serious discusions about when to introduce a carbon tax of their own..
Environmental carnage of all sorts is a truly major emergency in China, both in the short term and as a potential limit on the country’s development;
Chinese emissions are a problem not just for its own people but also for the world. It has now overtaken the U.S. as the biggest carbon emitter; most of the coal that is burned anywhere on Earth is burned in China.
May 15, 2013
Yesterday we got a nice push in this piece from the Weather Channel. Dark Snow is making inroads, and we can do so much more if everyone helps out. I appreciate deeply the support we’ve receieved so far, and am hard at work preparing for our trip in late June.
Peter Hadfield, (potholer54 on YouTube) has a new addition to his indispensable series of climate disinformation debunks.
May 14, 2013
On April 21, 2013, the Dark Snow Project brought a bit of Greenland to Manhattan, to illustrate the importance of this summer’s planned expedition to sample Greenland ice. It kicked off the last leg of our historic citizen-science crowd funding campaign.
If this final fundraising push is successful, I’ll be traveling in June to the Greenland Ice sheet as part of a scientific expedition to investigate the steady darkening and increasing melt of that important ice sheet. Bill Mckibben will be coming along to write this up for Rolling Stone, as well.
There are 3 ways to help out, if you haven’t already. One, you can go to Darksnowproject.org, and make a donation at the bottom of the page. Two, you can text darksnow to 50555, or Three, you can go to the IndieGoGo crowdsourcing site.
North Carolina put itself on the anti-science map not long ago by passing a law forbidding consideration of sea level rise in that state.
Now, the legislature is looking at legislation to brand some of the world’s most compelling new auto technology, Tesla’s electric Model S sedan, as “unfair competition” to conventional auto dealers.
From the state that brought you the nation’s first ban on climate science comes another legislative gem: a bill that would prohibit automakers from selling their cars in the state.
The proposal, which the Raleigh News & Observer reports was unanimously approved by the state’s Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, would apply to all car manufacturers, but the intended target is clear. It’s aimed at Tesla, the only U.S. automaker whose business model relies on selling cars directly to consumers, rather than through a network of third-party dealerships.
The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing the state’s franchised dealerships. Its sponsor is state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson, who has said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition”—something Republicans are typically inclined to favor—is not entirely clear. After all, North Carolina doesn’t seem to have a problem with Apple selling its computers online or via its own Apple Stores.
Still, it’s easy to understand why some car dealers might feel a little threatened: Tesla’s Model S outsold the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8 last quarter without any help from them. If its business model were to catch on, consumers might find that they don’t need the middle-men as much as they thought.
In the first three months of 2013, more people bought Tesla Model S electric cars than equivalent (more or less) models from Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. Obviously, these aren’t very high-volume models, but still, not bad for a company that wasn’t making any cars at all a few years ago. It shows that Tesla’s strategy is working.
May 11, 2013
I’ve pointed out before the comfy co-existence of racism and climate change denial on display at the recent CPAC convention, and been criticized for making so obvious a connection. Well, here it is again.
If you pick up the video above at about 2:48, you’ll see a recap of this week’s kerfuffle about a senior analyst at the “conservative” Heritage Foundation, and his, well, uh, frank, views on white supremacy.
Heritage, one of DC’s leading sewerpipes of climate denial, claims they had no idea one of their guys was a cross-burner – but watch the video and you’ll see him – at a public meeting covered by CSpan – spew a nauseating race-vs-IQ spiel that would be worthy of, well, the Wall Street Journal.
But even the Journal cut that shit out 20 years ago.
Maybe there should be research into the DNA and brain structure of climate deniers and racists, to find out if both behaviors spring from the same genetic deficiency. And maybe the Heritage Foundation should do a report on that. And maybe it should be published in the Wall Street Journal.
It’s just a thought.
I got an invite from ITN network in the UK to join a Google Hangout with some unnamed folks and discuss climate. Sounded like fun, so I signed on.
When I got the guest list just before the show, I was very pleased to see that climate denier James Delingpole was on it. Unfortunately, James must have gotten the same list, because he bailed at the last minute, with no explanation. (why am I not surprised?)
They tried to get Mark Morano, but no luck.
The final list included Paul Butler, Ocean scientist of Bangor University in the UK, who has been doing some nice research on some interesting and long lived crustaceans as climate proxies, and Jay Famiglietti, an Earth Scientist at UC Irvine.
So, anyhow, it made for a nice conversation but not many fireworks, in this case, more light than heat. I managed to bring up some of my current hobby horses around renewable energy and the coming disruption to utilities – but missed the opportunity to plug DarkSnowProject - Jason Box is going to kick my butt for that – but I thought the program would go longer. Will update soon on exciting developments there.
May 7, 2013
Best Movie ever? Best Marvel Movie ever? Best example of how to reinvent a character and a myth?
Or maybe just exactly the movie I needed to see at the very moment I needed to see it.
Remember. A myth is a story that’s true even if it never happened.