Archive for September 26th, 2009

Honest Tea’s Path to Social Change

Honest Tea’s Path to Social Change
By John Comberiate
At the Leadership for a Better World – Creating Social Value through Innovation Conference many speakers discussed the ideas around Social Entrepreneurship, how to communicate Social Change, and how large companies need to adapt to survive in a modern business environment.  Often lost in this discussion is the low level view of the [...]

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Honey, I shrunk the GOP, Part 3: RNC Chair Steele withdraws support for Rep. Kirk over his vote on climate and clean energy bill

shrunkthegopPart 1 looked at how, conservatives vowed to purge all members who support clean energy or science-based policy following the House vote on the climate bill.

That anti-climate litmus test threatens the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren — and will ultimately prove self-destructive for conservatives, too, as noted in Part 2: Opposing clean energy hurts GOP — Mellman.  More recent polling further underscores the danger of opposing the clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill (see Swing state poll finds 60% “would be more likely to vote for their senator if he or she supported the bill” and Independents support the bill 2-to-1).

Now Think Progress reports on another striking GOP effort to purge a member who failed the litmus test:

This past June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) — who is now running for Senate — was one of the eight Republicans to cast a vote in favor of Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. But ever since Kirk began taking heat from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, he has been trying desperately to backtrack from his vote.

Kirk has since offered contradictory explanations for his shifting stance. “I voted for [cap-and-trade] because it was in the narrow interests of my congressional district,” he explained recently. But at the time of his vote, Kirk cited “national security” considerations, “arguing that a modest carbon tax would spur development of domestic energy sources and reduce dependence on oil controlled by Saudi sheiks and Venezuelan dictators.”


Now, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is feeling the heat from the right-wing base as well, and is pulling a flip-flop of his own. The Chicago Daily Observer reports that Steele is withdrawing his support from Kirk:

“Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has withdrawn his sole endorsement for Mark Kirk for the U. S. Senate, recognizing that the candidacy of Patrick Hughes has drawn major support from Illinois Republicans: thus Steele’s RNC is neutral … a distinct victory for Hughes.”

Steele has previously referred to Kirk as a rising star and someone he would support. “I’m so excited about Mark Kirk and his race,” Steele said in a radio interview. “We were all kind of sitting around with bated breath as he was making his decision, a very personal decision, a family decision, to run for the Senate.”

“You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point,” Steele told Glenn Beck in February. This of course remains an ongoing challenge for conservatives.

Anti-science conservatives have tied their future to policies that would inevitably lead to catastrophic climate change and impoverishment of this country — and that would  cede leadership in the clean energy technologies that will be the biggest job-creating engine this century.  As the painful reality human-caused global warming becomes increasingly obvious, that is a political strategy that will keep shrinking the party.  Let’s just hope that they disappear from sight in time for progressives to enact the policies needed to preserve a livable climate.

We aren’t living in a Disney science fiction movie.  Even if the GOP is mired in science fictions, a happy ending is not guaranteed.

Photoshop credit to CAP’s Lauren Ferguson.

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California Utilities Dedicate $3.1 Billion To Energy Efficiency

The state of California is the most populated in the United States and is considered the largest alternative energy state as well. Amongst their various other initiatives, the California Public Utilities Commission is adding yet another energy efficiency program to their state.

The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved a plan to use $3.1 billion for various energy efficiency programs. The plans were submitted by multiple utility companies, including Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas.

The money will be going towards many statewide programs and for consumer rebates. The money will also be sponsoring a program called CalSPREE, which provides residential retrofitting of homes to make homes more energy efficient. California has indicated that at least 130,000 homes should be retrofitted by 2012.

Other specific uses for the money includes approximately $100 million for education and training programs. $260 million will be going towards retrofitting public buildings and $175 million will be going towards creating zero net energy homes and buildings.

The current plan in place for the money is expected to save energy which is equivalent to three 500 megawatt power plants. The program will also most likely reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons across the state. The state of California has indicated that the plan will be creating 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs.

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The Economics of Happiness

The Economics of Happiness

french lifestyle France is known for policies, such as the 35-hour work week, that attempt to promote life-work balance. 

In 1934, one of the original developers of the Gross National Product economic indicator (GDP) cautioned that “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.”

Deeply flawed though it is, GDP became our primary way to measure the wealth, and health, of nations.  But this week, for the first time in seventy years, we may be moving towards using a more accurate barometer.

The leader of a major developed country, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, has …

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Pesticide Dump Ignored for Decades – Cancers and Immune Diseases Reported by Residents

Dolan Miller used to live in the remote Antelope Valley region of Nevada’s Lander County. Of course, allof Lander County is remote as a 2002 population estimate pegged it at 5,691. With a land area of 5,621 square miles, the county population density is actually around 1 person per square mile.

alfalfa field During the years 1984 through 2005, Miller’s business in the valley was growing alfalfa. He was helped on the farm by his brother, Daren Kay Miller, who was a welder and heavy equipment operator.

Daren began to get headaches, which progressively got more severe …

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A Sea Change: Imagine a World without Fish — ocean acidification film — premiers tonight on Planet Green

Global warming is “capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas” (see Ocean dead zones to expand, “remain for thousands of years”).

A new documentary on ocean acidification is airing tonight (Saturday) on Planet Green at 8 pm.  (You can find your Planet Green channel on their website.)  Here’s the trailer:

For more on the subject with links to primary sources and recent studies, see “Imagine a World without Fish: Deadly ocean acidification — hard to deny, harder to geo-engineer, but not hard to stop — is subject of documentary.”

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North Face Environmental FAIL: Disease-Preventing Footwear Claims Retracted
north face hedgehog shoe photo
North Face men’s “Hedgehog” model shoe, with “AgION® antimicrobial footbed covering Lightweight, compression-molded EVA midsole.” Image and caption credit: North Face

If a manufacturer claims that a consumer product suppresses bacterial growth to the benefit of human health, it is, in effect, asserting that there is a pesticidal or “anti-microbial” property. As a matter of Federal law, firms must not make that claim in the USA, with promotional materials…
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REDD Copenhagen Countdown – North-South Agreement in Place, Immediate Need for Countries’ Financial Commitment & Higher Targets
rainforest canopy photo
photo: tommorphy via flickr.

The UN Summit on Climate Change, convened this week in New York by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, brought together more than 100 heads of state and dignitaries to tackle the urgent need for action and to mobilize real momentum and actionable commitment among the highest level of power brokers to reach a fair and effective global climate deal at the UN Climate Change Conference i…
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Safe Water and Easy Transport: ROSS Emergency Filter and Carrier
ROSS water filter and carrier image
Image: Red Button Design

We’ve already been wowed by the difference a decent water carrier like the Hippo Roller can make in the developing world. As inventor Emily Pilloton explained in a TreeHugger interview,design should be about solving the world’s most pressing problems. Now a group of young inventors from Glasgow, Scotland, are taking the idea of a rolling water carrier a step further, using the motion of the wheels to drive a rever…
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The French Have Big Plans for U.S. High-Speed Rail
map of high-speed rail proposal from SNCF
Credit: Yonah Freemark and The Transport Politic.

Major cities in the United States may be saying “bonjour” to high speed rail. A French national railroad operator known as SNCF has submitted detailed descriptions to the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration for creating 220 mph trains in four corridors: California, Florida, Texas and a Chicago/Midwest hub.

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Another One Jumps From The Chamber Pot: New Mexico Utility Leaving US Chamber Of Commerce
chamber pots photo Pots de chambre. Image credit:Wikipedia.

Because of the US Chamber of Commerce’s intractable record on climate change, PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider, a company which serves nearly a half-million customers, is ending its membership with the Chamber.

Following PG&E’s fine example, linked below, they have found more appropriate organizations on which to spend membership dollars.

Green, Inc. covered the story, including a ke…
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SAD Fate In Store For Rocky Mountain Aspens?
aspen stand colorado photo
Aspen’s famous trees are at risk. Photo by Jennifer Hattam.

Every year around this time, “leaf peepers” from all over the world descend on Colorado’s mountain towns to gape at the white-trunked aspen trees as they don their fall colors, setting the hillsides ablaze with bright swaths of yellow and orange foliage. But a mysterious syndrome may leave the Rocky Mountains aspen-free by 2090….
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Hairy gorilla wants to be your Facebook friend

A silverback mountain gorilla in the Virunga National Park, near the Ugandan border in eastern Congo. Around 340 mountain gorillas — nearly half of the 740 remaining worldwide — live in Uganda's lush Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Wildlife officials are launching creative campaigns trying to help save the species.He’s wild and hairy and he wants to be your Facebook friend. He’s an endangered Ugandan gorilla and part of a fundraising program the Ugandan Wildlife Authority launched to save the species.

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Get Ready: Senate Climate Bill To Drop This Week
Photo via Flickr

After much speculation and a summer spent debating health insurance reform, the Senate is finally ready to begin work on its climate bill. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats will release draft legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions, picking up on the work completed by the House earlier this year. The bill will be co-authored by Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer….
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