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Posts Tagged ‘environmental policy’

Today, four stories displayed next to each other, in the National section of the New York Times:

Boise Region Grapples With Smog, a Growing Threat

After years of growth and suburban development, the region that includes Boise and its suburbs, known as the Treasure Valley, is on the brink of violating federal clean air standards, and experts say the only real solution is one that might seem awfully un-Idahoan: persuading people to drive less.

List of Tainted Peanut Butter Items points to Complexity of Food Production

Tracking how the paste travels through the food supply can be challenging, because several companies can be involved in making the final food. For example, one manufacturer might coat the paste in chocolate and make a peanut butter cup, which is then sold to another company that mixes it into ice cream that may or may not also contain peanut butter. A grocery chain might buy that ice cream and sell it under a private label.

Environment Issues Slide In Poll of Public Concern

In the poll, released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, global warming came in last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. Only 30 percent of the voters deemed global warming to be “a top priority,” compared with 35 percent in 2008. “Protecting the environment,” which had surged in the rankings from 2006 to 2008, dropped even more precipitously in the poll: only 41 percent of voters called it a top priority, compared with 56 percent last year.

Environment Blamed in Western Tree Deaths

Rising temperatures and the resulting drought are causing trees in the West to die at more than twice the pace they did a few decades ago, a new study has found. The combination of temperature and drought has also reduced the ability of the forests to absorb carbon dioxide, which traps heat and thus contributes to global warming, the authors of the study said, and has made forests sparser and more susceptible to fires and pests. 

A bit much to take, all at once . . . if you are at all concerned with what sustains us. Of course the one bright spot in this otherwise dire picture, is our new Commander-in-Chief, President Obama. I can feel his sense of urgency, and that gives me hope. 

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Al Gore did a fabulous job yesterday, of nailing down the three key environmental challenges facing our country.

First, is the interdependence between climate crisis, economy, and national security.

And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Second, is the need to use a multi solutions approach, not forgetting to include conservation in the mix -I would love to think that Al read my earlier criticism . . . :)

Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation. Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis—everything, that is, except a president who inspires us to believe, “Yes we can.”

Third, is exposing the hold of the big oil and coal interests on the Republican party, and on the media, and the risk we run if we elect another Republican president.

So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister? Because the carbon fuels industry—big oil and coal—have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth. And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are in fact making it worse every single day.

Well said, Al!

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No time to blog. I have been taken by the energy of the Democratic Convention, and spent all my evenings glued to the TV. Nervously praying for no missteps. La Marguerite is an environment blog, not a place to share my political views. This time is different, however. I feel the big environmental challenges facing us are political issues. One only need to take a look at the past eight years, to be convinced. Eight years, during which we, the citizens of this great country, have been consistently ‘dis-inspired’, demoralized, and demobilized on so many fronts. Eight years, during which other countries looked up to us for leadership on climate change, and found nothing instead. Eight years of systematic obstruction to hundreds of good environmental proposals. Eight years of special fuel interests pulling the strings behind the scenes and imposing their wishes. Eight years, during which CO2 levels have risen steadily, past the 350 danger zone. Eight years of muffling the voices of climate scientists. Eight long years, that have dwarfed my efforts, and others’ efforts to try to heal nature.

I am ready for a change. Are you?

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News from the G8 Environmental Summit in Kobe, are not encouraging:

The European Union has pledged a 20 percent emissions reduction by 2020, and has offered to raise it to 30 percent if other nations sign on. A U.N.-brokered agreement last December included a footnote referencing the need for cuts of between 25 percent and 40 percent. The United States, however, has not committed to a midterm goal, demanding that top developing countries like China also commit to reductions. Japan has called for emissions by industrialized countries to begin to fall in the next one or two decades, but it too has stopped short of setting a 2020 target.

I read this and I wonder, how old are these people?

Sounds like deja vu to me . . .

Future summits may benefit from the help of a master group facilitator to help address some of the psychological barriers facing our leaders? This one very powerful cluster needs to get moving fast in the right direction.

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Just published by Reuters, the following update from Lord Stern, the author of the now famous 2006 Stern Report. I am reproducing the Reuters interview in its entirety, as this is critical information in my opinion:

Climate change expert Nicholas Stern says he under-estimated the threat from global warming in a major report 18 months ago when he compared the economic risk to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Latest climate science showed global emissions of planet-heating gases were rising faster and upsetting the climate more than previously thought, Stern said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday.

For example, evidence was growing that the planet’s oceans — an important “sink” — were increasingly saturated and couldn’t absorb as much as previously of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), he said.

Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster,” he told Reuters at a conference in London.

Stern said that increasing commitments from some countries such as the European Union to curb greenhouse gases now needed to be translated into action. Policymakers, businesses and environmental pressure groups frequently cite the Stern Review as a blueprint for urgent climate action.

The report predicted that, on current trends, average global temperatures will rise by 2-3 degrees centigrade in the next 50 years or so and could reduce global consumption per head by up to 20 percent, with the poorest nations feeling the most pain.

Some academics said he had over-played the costs of potential future damage from global warming at up to twenty times the cost of fighting the problem now, such as by replacing fossil fuels with more costly renewable power.

Stern said on Wednesday that increasing evidence of the threat from climate change had vindicated his report, published in October 2006.

People who said I was scaremongering were profoundly wrong,” he told the climate change conference organized by industry information provider IHS.

A U.N. panel of scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), writes regular summaries on climate science and last year shared the Nobel Peace prize with former U.S. vice president Al Gore for raising awareness.

Its latest report in 2007 had not taken detailed account of some dangerous threats, including the falling ability of the world’s oceans to absorb CO2, because scientists had to be cautious and that evidence was just emerging, the former World Bank chief economist added.

“The IPCC has done a tremendous job but things are moving on,” he told Reuters.

“The IPCC’s (cautious) approach to this is entirely understandable and sensible, but if you’re looking ahead and asking about the risk then you do have to go beyond.”

Stern said that to minimize the risks of dangerous climate change global greenhouse gas emissions should halve by mid-century. He said the United States should cut its emissions by up to 90 percent by then.

Will world leaders listen, and take action, quick?

 

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The bathroom sink seems to be the most propitious place for my ah-ah moments. This morning, as I washed my face, the realization of the water running a bit too long threw me into deep thoughts. What will it take to drive the global warming message home? What will it take for my new habits to become second nature?

I started playing with this notion of first and second natures. First nature for most of us is a world infused with assumptions of abundance and demands of convenience. Second nature needs to become a way of living based on limited material resources and respect for the laws of the natural world.

I wrote before about ‘What’s Bred In the Bone‘ and our propensity to fall back onto our old ways. The best that I can come up with, is that I – we – need help to develop and support that second nature. Help in the form of technologies, sensory/automatic reminders, consequences, practical solutions, consistent messaging, inspiring leadership, and supportive social networks.

Going back to the running faucet example, a simple solution would be to install a timer on the faucet. So that the environment trains me to behave.

 

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Over the last few months, I have been exploring the possibility of a global communication campaign to mobilize citizens in the war against climate change. The question came up of who should tackle such an effort. It requires money, and people’s time and creativity.

That’s where the Tap Project becomes relevant. An article in today’s Ad Age touts it as ‘one of the biggest cause-marketing efforts yet‘. David Droga came up with the idea of bringing clean drinking water to children around the globe.

‘The initiative, which started last year as a challenge from the staff at Esquire magazine to invent a brand, has blossomed beyond Droga5 into an unusual cause-marketing collaboration between competing ad shops. Via the project, restaurant patrons are asked to donate a minimum of $1 for the drinking water they would normally get for free. For every dollar raised, the proceeds are funneled to UNICEF to help a child in a developing country obtain clean water for 40 days. . . . Nearly 2,300 restaurants nationwide signed on for the “World Water Week” event that kicked off March 16 and wrapped March 22. Participating venues each received a toolkit containing TAP decals to be placed in window and packs of donation cards to be placed with a menu or with the bill.’

Why is the Tap Project such a success? According to Richard Earle, the author of ‘The Art of Cause Marketing: How to Use Advertising to Change Personal Behavior and Public Policy’,

“The best social marketing provokes an immediate and easy-to-execute reaction, . . . In today’s cause-marketing-crazed environment, a common pitfall of such campaigns is to gain sympathy without a clear objective for people to achieve, . . .The Tap Project, “has a very specific and well-defined objective. It is something very easy and clear that people can do to achieve the goals of the campaign. To pay a dollar for a glass of water is simple and ingenious.”

Equally important was leaving agencies free rein to execute the project according to local flavors:

Volunteering agencies were given two basic mandates: to recruit restaurants to participate and promote the Tap Project in local communities. The parameters were otherwise left intentionally loose. Agencies were supplied the UNICEF and Tap Project logo and asked to bring local flavor to developing marketing materials. “Allowing people to make the program their own is the key to the success of it,” said Kim Pucci, marketing director for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.’

I will also add the fact that the cause was given a very human face. Who can resist the haunting image of a thirsty child?

List of top agencies who volunteered to create pro bono campaigns for Tap Project:

Boston: Hill Holiday
Chicago: Energy BBDO
Cincinnati: Empower Media Marketing
Dallas: Publicis Mid America
Los Angeles: TBWA/Chiat/Day, OMD, Tequila and Porter-Novelli
Milwaukee: Non Box
New Orleans: Trumpet
Portland: Wieden & Kennedy
Richmond, Va.: Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter
San Diego: Fishtank
San Francisco: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Seattle: Publicis in the West
South Carolina (Charleston, Columbia and Greenville): Cargo

Here is my question to you. Learning from the Tap Project, which behavior would you want to elicit from people with a climate fight campaign? Think of one single, easy action.

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