It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Politics interfering with tourism

Seems there's a bit of tension between Alaska and Washington state. An Alaskan state representative wants to make a point by suspending a popular ferry service between a northern Washington port in Bellingham to Alaska - all because a couple of WA senators fought against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (read the Seattle-PI article)

According to the article, this isn't the first time the states have been at odds with one another over an environmental issue - disputes over fishing and timber plagued the states in the past, but this is the first time the ferry service has come into play.

Eliminating a revenue generating service to make a point seems rather silly, especially when both sides would be hurt by the move. Imposing sanctions and penalties on other governments to gain a desired outcome isn't new obviously - but perhaps a bit much on the domestic front.

It is unlikely that the Alaskan legislature will pass this resolution. Which is good news for the ferry service, a red state, a blue state and ANWR.

Monday, February 27, 2006

International efforts towards green building

The AFP reports that UNEP is teaming up with construction companies to get the international community thinking about building green (as posted on WBCSD). The new Sustainable Building and Construction Initiative’s (SBCI) aim is to create “baselines for sustainable building and construction practices” with the hope that local governments will then create their own policies to fit regional conditions. The SBCI will first focus on energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions. (Here’s a link to the UNEP press release.)

I think the SBCI can be important in getting green building implemented on a wider, global scale, and can also help the green building materials sector by increasing demand and prompting further innovations in this area. I also think they’ll have success on getting construction companies, financiers and others in the building industry on board. However, I’m a bit skeptical on how the SBCI plans to involve governments – especially in this mission of creating local building policy/standards (not to mention addressing land-use and development issues). Part of the problem within sustainable development policy making in general is a lack of administrative capacity and government willingness to do so – I don’t know that green building will be seen as a very high priority for many governments.

Perhaps with the partnerships SBCI is developing between financiers and building industry leaders they can create incentives or governmental agency partnerships. If SBCI’s new think tank can provide further evidence that certain green building criteria (such as requiring the use of local materials and local labor) can boost local economies, governments might be more open to the notion of building green. The initial push for energy efficiency could also be played as a cost benefit – energy efficient buildings save money. The SBCI also needs to develop an existing building standard for making current buildings more energy efficient (as is alluded to in their informational note - see link below).

I’d like to see this initiative succeed. Who knows - if the SBCI is able to get governments on board with green building, and they begin realizing positive spillovers in job and industry growth, perhaps other sustainable development measures can come next.

Here's a link to the 12 pg 'informational note' put out by UNEP on the SBCI.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The power of shareholders

Looks like shareholders are making a difference.

According to a recent press release from Ceres (a coalition of investment funds and public interest organizations that works with companies on environmental and social responsibility), in the past two years, several electric power companies in the US have bowed to shareholder requests of publishing climate risk reports. Most recently, four utility companies in the mid-west have agreed to do the same.

The press release also reports that: "The companies are among more than two-dozen U.S. businesses - including seven electric power companies, four oil and gas companies, six real estate firms, four big-box retailers, two insurance companies, two banks and one auto company - with whom investors filed global warming shareholder resolutions as part of the 2006 proxy season."

Perhaps this increasing trend can work its way into an across the board standard...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Eco-friendly coffee cups

MicroGREEN Polymers Inc. is making a new kind of coffee cup - and other eco-friendly disposable packaging made of recycled plastic bottles. (Read the Seattle-PI article). The intent is to make a more durable, efficient packaging to reduce the amount of waste (no more double-cupping at your neighborhood coffee shop) and to use a waste product to make it with (plastic bottles).

This is great - however this article doesn't mention how these new cups will be disposed of. Is it just going to pre-empt these plastic bottles from going into landfills by making them into cups first? Can these cups be reused or recycled themselves? I tend to side with the William McDonough/Cradle-to-Cradle stance on this matter, that using plastic bottles for an input, while initially dealing with this problematic waste, still means plastic bottles are being produced en masse.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Schweitzer on energy self-reliance

Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer, is truly inspiring. He spoke yesterday about the future of energy in the U.S. at an Earth Insitutue sponsored event at Columbia University. His message: energy self-reliance.

Schweitzer is looking to help with a combination of things such as bio-fuels, wind and coal. Yes, coal - only not the way we've done coal in the past. He has big ideas for pushing FT technology and coal gasefication to utilize all the coal that Montana is sitting on - 35% of coal in the U.S. is in Montana just below the surface. As for wind power, Schweitzer proposes spending $1 billion on it in the next few years. And he wants to convert a portion of U.S. export-crops to biodiesel, and even though the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture wasn't sold on the idea, Schweitzer seems determined to find a way to do it.

"We cannont expect Washington, D.C. to lead," he said, adding that leadership will come from the states. One thing is for sure - leadership is definitely coming from Montana and Schweitzer is at the helm.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

RecycleBank - the right incentives?

Ron Gonen and Patrick FitzGerald may have found the right incentives to get people recycling.

RecycleBank essentially pays people to recycle. The NYTimes article sums up the process nicely: “Households get credit for the weight of materials they recycle, which is scanned and recorded through a computer chip embedded in the garbage bins when they are picked up by the sanitation crew. They exchange that credit for coupons at various businesses. Municipal officials save disposal fees. Recycling companies make more money from processing. Retailers gain the feel-good association with a socially beneficial activity.”

Within six months, RecycleBank's pilot project in a couple of Philly neighborhoods got 90% of households participating - up from 35% in one neighborhood, up from 7% in another. Imagine all the recycling that will be going on once RecycleBank can manage that success rate on a wider scale!

Not only will more people recycle, but it might just get other companies thinking about ways they can create innovative public/private partnerships to encourage individual/consumer behavior changes, and make the world a better place in the process.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Enviromental Action - keeping Bush to his word

The Energy Dept scrambled to give $$ to the National Renewable Energy Lab to rehire scientists recently canned due to budget cuts - however the reshuffling of funds still falls short of fulfilling some big promises touted by the Bush Admin as of late.

Environmental Action wants to help you tell your congress people to keep Bush honest and fund his latest platform - getting the U.S. off foreign oil (Environmental Action asks specificially for funding for renewables and energy conservation efforts)

Click here to send your note off to congress

Monday, February 20, 2006

G.W.'s change of heart - or is it?

What's up with the Bush Admin's sudden 180 on oil? (Well, I suppose it isn't all that sudden, considering that the push for drilling in ANWR was promoted as an effort at reducing dependence on foreign oil.) But why the shift in focus to tech and R&D and renewables?

AP didn't pick up on it in its article about Bush's speech in Milwaukee , but tucked away in his speech about how great hybrids are, and how great all this new technology is, and how he wants to fund more physical science R&D - is the push for a global nuclear agenda.

Thrown in between coal and solar power is nuclear:
"I think we ought to start building nuclear power plants again. I think it makes sense to do so. Technology is such that we can do so and say to the American people, these are safe -- and they're important. To encourage construction of nuclear power plants, there's new federal risk insurance for the first six new plants that will be built in the country. That's part of the energy bill I signed. This insurance helps protect the builders of these plants against lawsuits or bureaucratic obstacles and other delays beyond their control. In other words, there's an incentive to say, let's get six of them started."

And not just in the U.S. - the Bush Admin is pushing for a nuclear world, in what he calls a global nuclear partnership:
"We're also going to work with other nations to help them build nuclear power industries. And the reason why is this is a global world in which we live and demand for oil in China and India affects price here in America. And so, therefore, if we can help relieve the pressure off of demand for fossil fuels, it helps the entire world."

He also says that nuclear is not only good for the environment, but somehow it encourages economic growth!
"So here is an initiative that affects us here at home, and an initiative that will help others develop nuclear power so they can generate their economic growth. We want people growing in the world. We want people -- economies to be in good shape. And we also expect others to help us protect the environment, as well."

So there you have it. Nuclear power will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Which is interesting because I was under the impression that oil had really very little to do with energy.

Oh, and just a note, (since I seem to insist on referring to the lack of an acceptable solution to nuclear waste in all my previous postings about nuclear power) - there was no mention about nuclear waste in his speech.

Read Bush's speech here

Friday, February 17, 2006 - Sale of Public Lands

The U.S. government is cashing in on public LAND! But it’s not finalized just yet so tell congress what you think (with a little help from Environmental Action).

Here's what I think (my blog posting from 2/14)

To give congress a piece of your mind click here:
Sign your name (type it in)
Send it off

Well done.

My previous posts on Environmental Action's efforts:
On censoring scientist Dr. James Hansen on global warming.
On a message to GM and Ford

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Natives not into nature?

I don't know why I'm constantly amused by what the wires pick up on.... ENN snagged this story from Reuters "Early California Was Native American Killing Field."

Reuters reports on a recent paper from University of Utah anthropologist Jack Broughton that looks at how Native Americans in California wiped out several species of animals and plant life prior to the European takeover. And thus, he concludes that Native Americans weren't all that sensitive to nature as we'd been led to believe.

I haven't read this paper, so he may address this, but do we currently live under the assumption that it has only been in the past couple generations that we've started killing off species? Don't the critics of the endangered species act always throw that fact out there - species have been dropping off throughout the millenia, so why try and stop the 'natural' course of things?

I think maybe 'natives' understood how to work with nature more than we do today, but that doesn't mean they didn't have a learning curve. They had to live and maintain livelihoods way back when, just as we do, and have at times learned the hard way. Jared Diamond's book Collapse is full of examples, such as Easter Island and the Viking-Inuit case. The Easter Island people used up all of their resources and their situation became dire. In Greenland, the Inuit people learned from their environment, and instead of trying to exploit their resources they used them to their advantage. Whereas the Vikings tried to bring what worked from their homeland (farming techniques and domesticated animals) to the 'new' land and didn't succeed because they didn't pay attention to what their environment was telling them.

What is different about us today than the California 'natives' 1500 years ago is that we have all this technology and history to know more about the past than ever before. We should be able to prevent mistakes of the past by learning from them, yet we don't seem to be willing to do so. Perhaps current socieites are in the midst of their (our) own learning curve.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Horsey on disappearing ice floes

Seattle-PI cartoonist David Horsey, on the melting arctic. (From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Friday, Dec 16, 2005)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Public land for sale

G.W. is putting 300,000 acres of federal land and national forests up for sale!

The AP article says: "Forest Service officials say the sales are needed to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for schools and roads in rural counties hurt by logging cutbacks on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management has said it also plans to sell federal lands to raise an estimated $250 million over five years."

300,000 acres to pay for a very short term span of five years. Well, it won't be a sale that keeps on giving, but hey, every little buck helps. Besides, the 300,000 acres are all spread out - an acre here, 1000 acres there. It's not like its a big ol chunk of trees set for the chopping block. Sounds like some of it is land that'd be developed anyway - like areas close to sprawling sub-urban or other metropolitan areas. Who are the likely buyers for the land? My guess is developers who'll build it up. And the land not near urban areas? Maybe a little natural resource extraction can be capitalized upon in those areas (or exploited - you choose the term).

But if you have a problem with any of the real estate up for bid, the government is taking comments on the matter through March (formality.)

The way the AP article presents it (as I'm sure the Bush Admin pitched it) is that if this sale doesn't happen you could hurt the already hurting communties victimized by harsh federal forest policies that restrict logging to save endangered species.

But once the sale is final, and the land is used up, and the money is spent, then what? Put more land up for sale? No one benefits from these short term fixes. We need a more comprehensive, long term, sustainable economic development plan for our nation. We (as the U.S.) expect other countries to do the same - but I guess that'll be for the next administration to figure out.

Monday, February 13, 2006

$1 billion to save salmon in the NW

Can $1 billion save salmon? The Seattle-PI reports that’s what a plan is calling for in the Puget Sound. I’ve only read the executive summary but I like the way it reads. It takes a watershed approach to salmon recovery. It takes into consideration future growth of the Puget Sound area (this includes the greater Seattle metropolitan area) and has taken a participatory approach in the planning process (if only all development plans could be as great.) If approved, this plan has a good chance at working, given that current recovery efforts are proving successful. Bottomline: saving salmon saves the integrity of the Puget Sound.

Here’s an excerpt from the exec summary: “This plan’s primary strengths rest upon three factors: 1) the needs of fish and people are addressed together; 2) the plan is built on the foundation of the fourteen local watershed planning areas across Puget Sound with a tailored approach for recovery based on local characteristics and conditions; and 3) although this plan focuses on Chinook recovery, it is done with the whole ecosystem in mind and the environmental and biological processes that create a healthy place for the salmon. Over 137 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles depend on salmon for one or more stages of their life, so they too will benefit from the protection and restoration actions to recover salmon.”

I suppose I could be a bit biased though. When I was in elementary school (to date myself, in the mid-to-late eighties) we learned about salmon. We learned the differences between Coho and Chinook salmon. We learned how salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs etc. We took field trips to salmon hatcheries, fixed up nearby creek areas and released hatchlings (or whatever they were called) into the water. So needless to say I’m all for salmon habitat restoration.

Of course the plan isn’t without critics (as the PI article mentions) and even though I believe it is a smart plan - I do have a critique of my own, however not on the plan itself – but on a related issue of water quality.

Part of the goal of this plan is to “recover self-sustaining, harvestable salmon runs in a manner that contributes to the overall health of Puget Sound and its watersheds…” but what good will all of these salmon be if their toxicity prevents us from eating them, or damages their own reproductive systems so they aren't able to spawn? I am all for this plan (and plan on commenting on it during the comment period) but there is still more to be done on curbing pollution in order to save our ecosystems (and in turn ourselves.)

Public comments are being accepted on this plan until February 27. The draft Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan is available at:
Details for submitting comments are in the Federal Register at (this is a link to a long document – but if I read it correctly, I think the e-mail for comments is Include in the subject line: Comments on Puget Sound Salmon Plan.)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Policy, science and the environment - Dr. Hansen at The New School

Friday I attended a panel discussion on the environment at a Politics & Science conference at The New School. Paul Ehrlich (population guru), Michael Oppenheimer (Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton), Steven Hayward (Political Scientist), and James Hansen (Dr. Hansen of the recent NASA/White House hush up over climate change science) talked about science, policy and the environment.

Mainly I went to see what Hansen had to say, but was equally interested in the rest of the panelists (I’ve seen Ehrlich speak before, he’s entertaining and informative). Yes, the conversation revolved around the panel’s topic, but it mainly centered on climate change. This might have been due in part to Dr. Hansen's presence, but it could be that climate change mitigation and associated policies are real, present challenges to scientists and governments alike.

The problems in politics and policy where the environment is concerned, according to the panelists, seemed to be a lack of public education/awareness of not only what the issues are, but the science behind those issues; as well as the (slow) policy making process, which is impeded, in part, by special interest groups and scientific uncertainty. The solutions? A few points that the panelists favored were market-based mitigation mechanisms, and the need for a more open dialogue between scientists-public-government. Although Hansen specifically said his role was not to specify policy, he did mention that science and public opinion have a big role to play in the matter.

Hansen was the last panelist to speak and he presented the science – graphs, charts, temperature changes and patterns over time (and we’re talking geological time – hundreds of millions of years) – all of what amount to, he concluded, evidence of human influence over climate change. In presenting this information (which wasn’t really anything new from the climate change science out there – but I could be mistaken), he stated he wasn’t representing any agency, only himself.

I’m already one of the converted on this matter – but I think he got a lot of people in the audience thinking (gauging from the gasps when he presented info about how the earth could warm 2 to 3 degrees Celsius if we don’t do something to control it – which may not seem like a lot, but the last time the earth had a temp 2 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than it is today, sea levels were also 80 feet higher. Of course the skeptics came up to ‘dispute’ his science during the Q&A). Although this appears to be a doomsday scenario – Hansen did mention that since people have induced climate change in recent years, we also have the ability to keep the global temperature in check if we can get beyond the short term interests that are ruling policy and politics today. He also stressed the importance of an open discussion and the ability to question, and said that the ultimate policy maker is the public.

My question: we have the power to change - but do we have the will?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Scientists give nuclear waste transport the green light

Now that nuclear power has been chosen as the 'clean' power for our future, scientists have recently concluded it is officially 'safe' to transport nuclear waste. (ENN 2/10/06)

Of course details such as times and routes would be kept top secret, and the panel suggested transport by rail would be preferable over truck (also, reportedly a preference of the energy dept.) I wonder how many rail stations there are at Yucca mountain right now? In any case, when Yucca mountain opens (anticipated date right now is 2015) it'll be the first 'safe' nuclear waste 'disposal' site (read: holding tank) in the world. So it is a very good thing we've got this transportation thing figured out now to avoid further delays in the future.

"The Energy Department is preparing a transportation plan to ship some 70,000 tons of nuclear waste from around the country to a proposed central repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, if the facility gets a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." (If they get a license?) "The department said that would require 4,300 shipments -- about three-fourths by rail and the rest over highways -- over 24 years. Nevada officials, who strongly oppose the Yucca project, have said there could be as many as 50,000 shipments with wastes going through at least 43 states."

And that's only the existing waste. What about the waste from all the new nuclear plants we're going to build? I'd like a number crunching person to add up the costs of this 24 year nuclear waste transportation plan (all at however much the 2005 dollar is worth) + the cost of building 20 new nuclear power plants (with some kind of alternative calculation of anticipated cost overruns) + transport costs for all that waste + operating costs of all the plants. And just for fun there should be an alternative calculation that factors in the costs of just one leak during that 24 year span, where, say, 10,000 people are exposed to radiation (you pick whether its as a result of transportation or near a plant.) What do you think? Will nuclear power will come in under other power sources?

Congress has been asked for a measly $544 million to build Yucca mountain. How can they refuse? The American people are on board with nuclear power, there's none of that nasty climate changing CO2 to deal with. Seems like a win-win situation. With Yucca Mountain taken care of nuclear can plow full steam into the future on a clear conscience. Looks like the only thing standing in the way now is Nevada. Wonder when elections for Sen. Harry Reid's seat come up for re-election...

Friday, February 10, 2006

White House Budget affects power in WA

Ramifications of G.W.'s budget proposal are slated to hit the Northwest. According to the Seattle-Post Intelligencer article...

"That budget calls on the Bonneville Power Administration to redirect revenue from the sale of all surplus power in excess of $500 million to the U.S. Treasury rather than keeping it in the region as is currently done. Among other things, the money is used to improve the system and keep rates low"

I'm sure the U.S. Treasury will put that money to good use - despite what an analysis by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council says. They say this could, among other things, reduce personal income levels in the region, and result in some job loss (not to mention increase power rates). The White House reportedly dismisses the NPCC analysis (and why wouldn't they) saying "the change would allow the nation to attack the deficit and would benefit the BPA in the long run by allowing it to pay down its debt at a faster rate." That's interesting. Now why exactly should Bonneville Power and their customers foot the deficit? Maybe it would make more sense to not double defense spending?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Old news is new news

News flash... The AP reports that scientists are warning of melting Arctic ice.... Reuters reports that a U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the UN that India and China emissions are a serious threat to global warming....

This is new news? Is news only considered mainstream when the wires pick it up? If so this could be a good indication that climate change is being taken seriously...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coal-bed methane photos stirring up controversey in Wyoming

ENN picked up on a photography exhibit of Wyoming's Powder River Basin that is causing quite the stir. The photos show the effects that coal-bed methane practices are having on the land.

The industry response? Nothing less than what you would expect - the photos don't give the full picture, coal-bed methane is important for economic development, the photos are a direct attack on the industry - the usual. Turns out some of the artists have worked for the industry in the past, and aren't against the industry but think practices can be done a little more responsibly. The exhibit isn't an attack, they say, but more of a document of what is going on.

The folks at Powder River Basin Resource Council, a non-profit organization that takes this issue seriously, and according to the mission statement on their website, also think the coal-bed methane industry can do a little better. "We believe in, and are dedicated to, good land stewardship. We do not oppose development. We want to see RESPONSIBLE development of Wyoming's natural resources."

See, they're not against development either. Maybe these photos can succeed in promoting an open dialogue between the two sides - if the industry can get off of the defensive that is.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nuclear power is all the rage

The Christian Science Monitor has jumped on the nuclear power band-wagon, reporting on a recent poll that more and more Americans want nuclear power. They interview Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore to back up this increasing popularity perspective.

Sorry, did I miss who it is exactly that is promoting nuclear as the energy solution of the future? Is it the IAEA who conducted the poll in question? Or are they just one cog in some greater nuclear power master plan?

Don't get me wrong, I don’t think nuclear power should be eliminated altogether. It can certainly have a place in our energy future – but I think nuclear waste should be eliminated, and I don’t think new nuclear power plants should be built until that small matter is taken care of (echoing my post of 1/27/06).

However, I will take a moment to explore a little of the bias in this article, just because it's fun.

“To Patrick Moore, who cofounded Greenpeace, nuclear power is the only realistic solution to future power needs. 'You can't solve this problem with windmills and photo panels alone,' says the chairman of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., a Vancouver, B.C., environmental consulting firm. These two power sources tend to be expensive. More important, they are 'intermittent.' They work only when the wind blows or the sun shines. Economies need 'baseload' power that operates all the time.”

Wind and solar tend to be expensive? What, is nuclear cheap? Can someone point me to a cost-benefit analysis comparing the two? Is nuclear waste disposal/maintenance factored into any CBAs out there?

As far as the intermittent power supply point - is there research on ways to effectively store up energy when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine? Are we any farther in fuel-cell technology? Is clean coal technology a bust?

This article also mentions that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will make it easier to get a nuclear plant built. Now that’s progress! I wonder where they'll put them all. Surely there won’t be any NIMBY issues since everyone is pro-nuclear now.

How about safety?
"Is this risky? Yes, but all power sources have problems. Coal mining is dangerous. Dams can clobber the environment. Natural gas is explosive. Oil is costly. All fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases. Windmills are noisy and can kill birds."

Comparing noisy with radiation exposure? Hmmm...seems like an adequate comparison to me. Although maybe wind technology is too new to tell its long term effects on people.

Homeland security?
"Terrorists might succeed in crashing an airplane into a nuclear plant. But a modern containment structure is unlikely to be penetrated. It consists of six feet of reinforced concrete, with one-inch steel plates on both sides. Even if such a suicide mission succeeded in penetrating the dome, the plant would not explode. Radiation might be spread, but most of it would weaken rapidly and is less dangerous than many think, says Moore."

The plant won’t explode and radiation isn’t as dangerous as we might think? Great! Bring on nuclear power! Only don't let any photos or stories of people that have been exposed to radiation out - might hurt all the warm fuzzies towards nuclear.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The end of SRI?

A UK study has found that business as usual businesses are raking in more money than their socially responsible counterparts...

However, it may not be going away as these two surveys show an increasing trend in socially responsible investing...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Weyerhaeuser closing mills to reduce losses

Weyerhaeuser’s profits are down, according to a recent AP article I plucked from the Seattle-PI. What’s to blame for this forest product producer’s latest downturn? Analysts (in this article) say it is because there is less demand for the company’s products, citing e-documents and foreign production of packaging as the culprit. While I’m not convinced we are really using less paper because of electronic ready documents, and the company itself has a few foreign production facilities - is it that less enviro-friendly products are taking away market share from Weyerhaeuser?

From all initial appearances, Weyerhaeuser seems to have made great efforts to ensure environmentally responsible business practices in its operations, but to increase shareholder value it will close a pulp-mill and sawmill in two small Washington state towns, among other “aggressive” measures to reduce losses, including shutting facilities in seven other U.S. states. Are these communities inevitable casualties of globalization or is there more to it? In my idealistic mind I like to think that the greener a company is the greater its profits will be - is Weyerhaeuser not green enough, or are consumers not yet creating enough demand for products that are?

Additional articles:

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Resilience vs. Sustainable Development

Can resilience be the new sustainable development?

From an initial look at the term it seems to include a capacity to adapt to or ability to recover from changing conditions. This adaptive feature is something that sustainable development is lacking. Resilience, in a development context, might even be more action oriented where sustainable development isn't.

In a 2005 Science Magazine article about the tsunami of Dec 2004, the authors make reference to efforts in rehabilitating coral reefs. They say these efforts are not wide enough in scope, and that instead “ should be directed to provide ecologically sustainable, long-term employment for coastal communities, to eliminate poverty, and to improve local and regional governance systems for managing the natural resilience of coral reefs.”

This article also talks about how the concepts of ecological and social memory are crucial in resilience, rebuilding and prevention (in the context of disaster management) - meaning we can learn from the past to know how to better plan for the future.

Can resilience take over where sustainable development leaves off? I've only just begun to look into this, so by all means comment away...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Ford finds alternative disposal for "grinding sludge"

Three cheers for the Waste Acceptance Criteria! According to the WBCSD, seems this policy measure forced Ford to develop an alternative method for disposing its "grinding sludge" because the hazardous concoction will no longer be accepted at landfills. So to avoid the high costs of hazardous waste disposal, Ford found a way to separate the oil, metal and other stuff in the sludge to make it safer for disposal, plus it sounds like they'll even try to figure out how to avoid putting the leftovers (what they call a puck) in landfills altogether.

Now, not only will they keep 1600 tons of the sludge out of landfills - they're saving tons of money too - nearly $1.76 million a year (now what will they do with all that extra cash?)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Environmental Action sounds off on censoring climate change

The latest from Environmental Action is calling on people to tell G.W.'s staff to stop censoring climate change. They're hoping to get 4000 of these sent, mine was around #365 - below is the sample letter they provided with my additions that I sent off...

Dear Administrator Griffin,
I am deeply disturbed by attempts to intimidate and censor NASA's climate scientists by theatening them with "dire consequences" if they talk publicly about their work. Do you really believe that NASA is the only organization with this information? Will you try to censor all of the world's scientists who are researching climate change indicators and monitor news from all media outlets globally? I urge you to bring an immediate end to this abuse of power.

Amy Stodghill

Okay - now you try - in three easy steps you too can tell Administrator Griffin what you think
1) click,
2) type your name in their pre-made e-mail, enter in additional information if you wish
3) click send e-mail, and you're done.

Quick, easy, painless and you've done your good deed for today.

See my previous postings about the censorship on climate change, and about Environmental Action's e-mailing efforts...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Horsey on the environment

If you're not familiar with Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist David Horsey, you should be. His political commentary is great, as is his environmental commentary. The cartoon below is from the Seattle-PI Sept. 2002.