Let’s incubate the Green Swans hatched by the COVID-19 Black Swan

June 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Let’s incubate the Green Swans hatched by the COVID-19 Black Swan Tom Baruch Tue, 06/23/2020 – 01:30 The global COVID-19 pandemic is a historic Black Swan event that offers a Green Swan of opportunities to harvest innovation from 50 years of converging exponential technologies. We are presented with a rare opportunity to invest in new innovations, rebuild our data and power infrastructures and supply chains to restore and strengthen the economy while healing the environment. According to author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Black Swans are unexpected, hard-to-predict events that result in extreme, unintended consequences. The coronavirus pandemic is a classic Black Swan. Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed countries and states scrambling for personal protective equipment and ventilators. Oil tankers are carrying millions of tons of oil with nowhere to go. Farmers are destroying food and supermarket shelves are missing essential items across the nation. These events, made visible by the COVID-19 virus, have shown us the fragility of systems pushed to their breaking point by design constraints to maximize return on investment in the absence of resiliency.  Green Swans, according to John Elkington , are positive market developments once deemed highly unlikely, if not impossible. They can have a profound positive impact across economic, social and environmental value creation. To lessen the impact of current and future Black Swan events, we have Green Swan solutions that are ready to deploy on behalf of preparedness and resilience. Entrepreneurial innovation, new investment and regulatory models must be promoted and accelerated to prepare for future pandemics, climate change and to restore the environment. Back to normal is not an option To rebuild the economy, the United States government so far seems to choose to deploy the same playbook it did in 2008: funding legacy companies in industries such as oil and gas.  History has shown us that government funding of visionary projects can have enormous positive outcomes. This old playbook will not return us to a pre-COVID-19 “normal.” The price of oil plunged below zero on some days, and customer demand remains at an all-time low. Bailouts paper over the fossil fuel industry’s weaknesses and “will create a zombie industry forever dependent on state aid for survival,” according to Jason Quay, director of the Global Climate Strategy Sunrise Project.  History has shown us that government funding of visionary projects can have enormous positive outcomes. In the United States, examples include the Transcontinental Railroad, the Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System and the Apollo program.  What if the government were to integrate support for clean energy into its COVID-19 economic recovery program? Renewables would emerge more robust than ever. Utilities already have found wind and solar power are less costly sources of energy. The economics of solar and wind including storage costs are quickly undercutting the economics of oil as a prime mover. According to MIT Tech Review , prices for solar energy have declined by 97 percent since 1980. Government policies that stimulated the growth of solar accounted for 60 percent of that price decline. Even without those policies — they soon expire — renewables are more than competitive against fossil fuels. The national strategy for re-opening the economy needs to focus on resilience projects and creating an infrastructure that will absorb future shocks. Government must provide the regulatory support to amplify transformative innovation from the intersections of converging exponential technologies. We already have demonstrated the efficacy of investments directed to electrical distribution, water, transportation and renewable energy. Green Swan solutions are already at work Entrepreneurs are on the verge of creating an era that will be marked by abundance, sustainability and resilience. The world that emerges from COVID-19 could offer plentiful, zero marginal cost electricity, ubiquitous computing and cheap bio-manufacturing of high-purity drugs and environmentally friendly plastics directly from DNA.  As another example, the digitization of the electrical grid, is changing the way power is delivered and consumed. Cheap electricity drives electrons across the electrical grid where they become more accessible and offer a more affordable, cleaner and more resilient way to charge electric batteries. Among other benefits, that will increase EV adoption, leading to cleaner air. Cheap electricity will increase access to clean water. One ingenious company, Zero Mass Water , has repurposed the same solar panels helping create cheap electricity to squeeze potable water from the air — even in desert conditions. Cheap electricity also will drive synthetic biology — the intersection of information and biotechnologies, where Moore’s Law meets Mendel , the father of genetics. Synthetic biology already has delivered safe, more economical, cleaner fuels, hardier crops and proteins that are brewed locally to fertilize crops and feed animals — including us humans. Futuristic, sustainable, brewed, high-performance materials already are manufactured locally, disrupting traditional supply chains. Among the many companies demonstrating the breadth of this industry are Calysta (proteins for food production), Codexis (enzymes for multiple applications) and Geltor (proteins for nutrition and personal care products). These companies are demonstrating their products can be more effective than those developed from petroleum products or requiring the slaughter of animals. Emerging digital and biological tools for traceability and reliability are helping build supply-chain resilience now when it is most needed. With digital and biological tools, entrepreneurs are mapping supply chains to increase traceability while offering new levels of transparency following goods as they make their ways from manufacturer to consumer.  Resilience, despite resistance Entrepreneurs, new business models and investors will show us the way forward. Entrepreneurs have demonstrated time and time again that they can compress a century of progress into a decade. With the support of a community of enlightened venture capital investors, corporate strategic partners, financial institutions and governmental regulatory bodies, entrepreneurs can create exponential change and generate substantial value in short periods of time. With community inputs from technology, financial and regulatory bodies, entrepreneurs can generate greater returns on investment, and their efforts can create a template for the rest of the world. We need to encourage and fund new business models that leverage converging exponential technologies. In the 1990s, business models were focused almost exclusively on share of wallet. For the past 20 years, digital technology has enabled the emergence of the business models that have driven the circular and sharing economies with their positive benefits. New business models are quickly emerging based on cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, blockchain, data analytics, augmented/virtual reality and combinations thereof. No doubt, they will bring countless benefits. Regulatory barriers for new business models should be eliminated or eased. Don’t bet against America We know this current crisis is a preview or warm-up act for a climate-changing world. The pandemic demands that business and government leaders be ready, willing and able to respond while building secure and resilient supply chains and infrastructure. The post-pandemic world requires that business and government leaders encourage creativity in preparing for the next crisis.  As we try to anticipate a resilient, reliable, secure, sustainable and prosperous future, we also have the chance to incubate and create that future. We can apply what we have learned from the past 50 years of entrepreneurial innovation, from Moore’s Law (semiconductors, information technologies and the Internet) and the mapping of the human genome, and their positive impact on global GNP. It is up to us to innovate and advocate to make the right choices. In a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, investor Warren Buffett wrote, “America’s economy will continue to grow and prosper for generations to come.” He finished by saying, “For 240 years, it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America.”  Applying our know-how and ingenuity to prepare for the next crisis is the right place to start. Pull Quote History has shown us that government funding of visionary projects can have enormous positive outcomes. Topics Innovation VERGE Cleantech Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Let’s incubate the Green Swans hatched by the COVID-19 Black Swan

Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

June 5, 2020 by  
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Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem Jim Giles Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:30 The team at GreenBiz started Food Weekly to track progress toward a better food system. But as protestors filled streets across America last week, I was reminded that a critical question about this effort often goes unasked: Better for whom? We have to ask this question because we can’t assume that any progress we make will be inclusive. Systems can evolve and remain discriminatory. We’ve seen this happen in housing, education, criminal justice and so many other areas of our society where people of color are marginalized or punished. Food and farming are no different.  If this seems questionable, take a look at farm ownership. A century ago, there were a million black farmers in the United States. Now there are around 45,000. On average, they earn a fifth of white farmers. Reasons include predatory practices by developers and systematic discrimination by government loan officers . Communities of color also lose out at the other end of the food chain. In a disproportionate number of low-income black neighborhoods, redlining, segregation and weak zoning laws have led to the proliferation of junk food outlets and a lack of healthy alternatives. Food deserts — or “food swamps,” which one researcher argues is a better term — are linked to obesity and other health problems.  These disparities are systematic and ingrained and very much with us today. They are one reason among many for the anger we are seeing right now. And history tells us that these forces, unless we actively resist them, will distort attempts to improve our food system. They will prevent “better” from meaning better for everyone. Yet advocates for sustainable food — and I’m including myself here — are often guilty of treating racism as an urgent problem that somehow isn’t our problem. It’s an issue across the sustainability profession, in fact. Climate journalist Emily Atkin even has a name for it : a “Climate Chad” is an environmentalist who says they “care about pervasive racial inequality and police brutality but don’t believe these issues are related to the climate fight.” There’s no magic wand to be waved here. But there are many things that people in privileged positions can do. One that feels relevant to this newsletter is to insist that people of color are always present during critical discussions about the future of food. This has certainly not been the case in the past. With that in mind, rather than signing off with my usual list of essential reads, I’ll end with links to pieces about individuals and organizations combating racism and promoting diversity in food and agriculture. Each is an opportunity to participate in change. My request to you is to consider how you might involve some of these remarkable people and projects in your work.  John W. Boyd Jr. is a fourth-generation black farmer and the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association. More in this Guardian feature . The Castanea Fellowship is a two-year program for diverse leaders working for a racially just food system. Meet the fellows for 2019 and 2020 . The National Black Food and Justice Alliance organizes for black food and land by promoting black leadership and influence in food systems and land stewardship. New Orleans chef Tunde Wey uses food and dining to push people to confront issues of race. Learn more in this GQ profile . The Seeding Power Fellowship invests in leaders creating a more equitable food system in the New York area. Here are the 2019-2020 fellows . There’s a wealth of information on how to craft better strategies for food equity at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Healthy Food Access Portal . Want more? Civil Eats has a longer list . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

How racism manifests itself in clean energy

June 5, 2020 by  
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How racism manifests itself in clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:00 As our institutions strain under the uprising in cities across the country, I’ve been struggling to comprehend the depth of racism in America. I understand why these moments of police violence, the senseless destruction of black bodies caught on tape, would spark a fire that rages across this country. I also know that the tinder has been building for generations and is about so much more than this one horrific moment. Every sector plays a part. Including clean energy.  It’s no secret that there are grave inequities in clean energy. In the spirit of this moment, I turned the microscope on my own sector to ask, how does racism manifest in clean energy?  Manifestation 1: ‘I can’t breathe’ “I can’t breathe” refers to more than police violence. Black communities have been struggling to breathe for decades.  “The right to breathe isn’t just related to surviving interactions with police,” said Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , an organization that works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities. “It pertains to surviving and being able to breathe clean air.” Dozens of studies document the racial disparity in environmental impacts, and I’ve linked to a number of those below. To name a few, consider that in America black people: Are on average exposed to 1.54 times more hazardous pollution than white people — regardless of income. Breathe 56 percent more pollution than they create. Are exposed to 50 percent higher rates of particulate pollution than the general population. Are more likely to live near highways, airports, refineries and other sources of hazardous air pollutants. Are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry. The impacts are also real. African Americans have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma , and are more like to have (and die from) heart disease . It’s no coincidence that African Americans are three times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people. To make matters worse, inequities in health care result in black communities paying almost twice as much in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  In this way, the story of George Floyd is symbolic of many struggles in the black community.  We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. “A cop put his knee in the back of his neck and choked him to death, amid his cries for help. You can hear the dude calling for his mom,” said Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers. “You look at black people in America and our journey, every opportunity that we’ve had to get ahead has been choked out, fully, over time. Every bit of progress gets choked out.” But here’s the thing: Clean energy technologies exist to reverse this problem. The missing piece is getting them deployed at scale in the communities most affected by dirty energy.  Manifestation 2: Paying more and getting less from energy  More than any other racial group in the United States, African Americans struggle to afford baseline energy needs, a state known as energy insecurity or energy poverty. As a percentage of their income, black households pay upwards of threefold more than white households for energy. They’re also disproportionately affected by utility shut-off policies , leaving them more vulnerable to dangerously hot and cold days.  Why? It’s expensive to be poor. Many solutions that save money in the long run — electric vehicles, rooftop solar, energy efficiency upgrades — require upfront costs or access to capital that exclude many black communities.  Paying more and getting less means black households are often playing catchup. According to Cox, in some places African Americans pay more for energy than for rent.  “We’re not putting people in a situation where they can succeed if they’re spending that much on their energy consumption,” Cox said.  That’s especially true for a community with fewer economic opportunities.  “We have a lack of jobs, we have a lack of access, we have a lack of money in communities,” said Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator ( LACI ). “Economics are a huge part of it. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination.” Manifestation 3: Myopic clean energy equity programs  Well-meaning programs and incentives can go only so far if they fail to take a broader view of inequalities.  Take, for instance, a California program that aims to increase access to electric vehicles by providing incentives to install a charging station at your home — provided, of course, that you’re a homeowner. That does little to help African Americans who have been systematically denied homeownership through redlining and lack of access to capital.  “Inherently, that’s racist,” said Cureton, who worked with the program while at GRID Alternatives. “Programs like these aren’t targeted at black people. They’re targeted at people who always lived in California, who always had access to capital. Programs like that don’t help to alleviate the systemic racism that is not only within this country but within this industry.” Cureton says that in order for these programs to work better, it’s essential for those who work in clean energy and equity to be able to talk about the shortcomings of policies without fear of losing funding or negatively impacting the organization.  “This equity push, it looks good and it sounds good,” Cureton said. “But for people of color who are suffering right now, it doesn’t feel good. We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity.” All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. To be clear, this critique isn’t to marginalize the hard work of GRID Alternatives — or other equity organizations working to support underserved people, such as Greenlining Institute , The Solutions Project and New Energy Nexus . Rather, it’s a reminder that systems of oppression are intertwined and that support needs to flow to those that understand the complexity of the problem.  “I think people get that there is an issue here,” Cox said. “‘Equity’ and ‘intersectionality’ are, like, the foundation buzzwords of the last four years. It’s where the big-money people are moving with their strategies. I think the next step is making sure the money gets to the right people.” Manifestation 4: Lack of representation  Organizations that design policies, programs and products usually are controlled by white people. That lack of diversity around the table leads to a lack of diversity in solutions.  The clean energy sector and companies with climate goals have tremendous power to change this.  Cox, who grew up in Oklahoma, never considered a job in clean energy. His turning point was when professional peers told him about the sector and encouraged him to get involved. That type of proactive engagement is what is needed to change the racial balance.  “The onus is on these companies to do outreach,” Cox said. “Not just in the big cities, not just at Howard and Hampton, take it to Texas Southern. Go to Dillard. Go into the deep south, go into rural areas, recruit at these community colleges. Tell people about the jobs that are available, and push people into them.” Eldridge echos this sentiment, noting that white professionals are often disconnected from the deep bench of talent in the African American community. “There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue,” Eldridge said. “It amazes me when people say they can’t find people to interview or to have these conversations with, because I see them in the room all the time.” This isn’t alteristic. It’s well documented that companies that embrace diversity perform better and have a happier workforce.  It also isn’t tokenism. Getting the people in the room that understand the black experience is key to finding the policies that untangle the systems of injustice.  “As it relates to shifting power and creating change, your voice can’t be taken seriously if you yourself don’t have an entity that represents you,” Cureton said. “That’s extremely important.” Pull Quote We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue. Topics Energy & Climate Equity & Inclusion Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How racism manifests itself in clean energy

How racism manifests in clean energy

June 5, 2020 by  
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How racism manifests in clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:00 As our institutions strain under the uprising in cities across the country, I’ve been struggling to comprehend the depth of racism in America. I understand why these moments of police violence, the senseless destruction of black bodies caught on tape, would spark a fire that rages across this country. I also know that the tinder has been building for generations and is about so much more than this one horrific moment. Every sector plays a part. Including clean energy.  It’s no secret that there are grave inequities in clean energy. In the spirit of this moment, I turned the microscope on my own sector to ask, how does racism manifest in clean energy?  Manifestation 1: ‘I can’t breathe’ “I can’t breathe” refers to more than police violence. Black communities have been struggling to breathe for decades.  “The right to breathe isn’t just related to surviving interactions with police,” said Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , an organization that works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities. “It pertains to surviving and being able to breathe clean air.” Dozens of studies document the racial disparity in environmental impacts, and I’ve linked to a number of those below. To name a few, consider that in America black people: Are on average exposed to 1.54 times more hazardous pollution than white people — regardless of income. Breathe 56 percent more pollution than they create. Are exposed to 50 percent higher rates of particulate pollution than the general population. Are more likely to live near highways, airports, refineries and other sources of hazardous air pollutants. Are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry. The impacts are also real. African Americans have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma , and are more like to have (and die from) heart disease . It’s no coincidence that African Americans are three times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people. To make matters worse, inequities in health care result in black communities paying almost twice as much in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  In this way, the story of George Floyd is symbolic of many struggles in the black community.  We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. “A cop put his knee in the back of his neck and choked him to death, amid his cries for help. You can hear the dude calling for his mom,” said Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers. “You look at black people in America and our journey, every opportunity that we’ve had to get ahead has been choked out, fully, over time. Every bit of progress gets choked out.” But here’s the thing: Clean energy technologies exist to reverse this problem. The missing piece is getting them deployed at scale in the communities most affected by dirty energy.  Manifestation 2: Paying more and getting less from energy  More than any other racial group in the United States, African Americans struggle to afford baseline energy needs, a state known as energy insecurity or energy poverty. As a percentage of their income, black households pay upwards of threefold more than white households for energy. They’re also disproportionately affected by utility shut-off policies , leaving them more vulnerable to dangerously hot and cold days.  Why? It’s expensive to be poor. Many solutions that save money in the long run — electric vehicles, rooftop solar, energy efficiency upgrades — require upfront costs or access to capital that exclude many black communities.  Paying more and getting less means black households are often playing catchup. According to Cox, in some places African Americans pay more for energy than for rent.  “We’re not putting people in a situation where they can succeed if they’re spending that much on their energy consumption,” Cox said.  That’s especially true for a community with fewer economic opportunities.  “We have a lack of jobs, we have a lack of access, we have a lack of money in communities,” said Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator ( LACI ). “Economics are a huge part of it. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination.” Manifestation 3: Myopic clean energy equity programs  Well-meaning programs and incentives can go only so far if they fail to take a broader view of inequalities.  Take, for instance, a California program that aims to increase access to electric vehicles by providing incentives to install a charging station at your home — provided, of course, that you’re a homeowner. That does little to help African Americans who have been systematically denied homeownership through redlining and lack of access to capital.  “Inherently, that’s racist,” said Cureton, who worked with the program while at GRID Alternatives. “Programs like these aren’t targeted at black people. They’re targeted at people who always lived in California, who always had access to capital. Programs like that don’t help to alleviate the systemic racism that is not only within this country but within this industry.” Cureton says that in order for these programs to work better, it’s essential for those who work in clean energy and equity to be able to talk about the shortcomings of policies without fear of losing funding or negatively impacting the organization.  “This equity push, it looks good and it sounds good,” Cureton said. “But for people of color who are suffering right now, it doesn’t feel good. We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity.” All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. To be clear, this critique isn’t to marginalize the hard work of GRID Alternatives — or other equity organizations working to support underserved people, such as Greenlining Institute , The Solutions Project and New Energy Nexus . Rather, it’s a reminder that systems of oppression are intertwined and that support needs to flow to those that understand the complexity of the problem.  “I think people get that there is an issue here,” Cox said. “‘Equity’ and ‘intersectionality’ are, like, the foundation buzzwords of the last four years. It’s where the big-money people are moving with their strategies. I think the next step is making sure the money gets to the right people.” Manifestation 4: Lack of representation  Organizations that design policies, programs and products usually are controlled by white people. That lack of diversity around the table leads to a lack of diversity in solutions.  The clean energy sector and companies with climate goals have tremendous power to change this.  Cox, who grew up in Oklahoma, never considered a job in clean energy. His turning point was when professional peers told him about the sector and encouraged him to get involved. That type of proactive engagement is what is needed to change the racial balance.  “The onus is on these companies to do outreach,” Cox said. “Not just in the big cities, not just at Howard and Hampton, take it to Texas Southern. Go to Dillard. Go into the deep south, go into rural areas, recruit at these community colleges. Tell people about the jobs that are available, and push people into them.” Eldridge echos this sentiment, noting that white professionals are often disconnected from the deep bench of talent in the African American community. “There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue,” Eldridge said. “It amazes me when people say they can’t find people to interview or to have these conversations with, because I see them in the room all the time.” This isn’t altruistic. It’s well documented that companies that embrace diversity perform better and have a happier workforce.  It also isn’t tokenism. Getting the people in the room that understand the black experience is key to finding the policies that untangle the systems of injustice.  “As it relates to shifting power and creating change, your voice can’t be taken seriously if you yourself don’t have an entity that represents you,” Cureton said. “That’s extremely important.” Pull Quote We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue. Topics Energy & Climate Equity & Inclusion Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How racism manifests in clean energy

How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

June 4, 2020 by  
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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Jesse Klein Thu, 06/04/2020 – 01:45 Cranberries are more than just an American Thanksgiving Day tradition; they also are a tradition of the American land. The crop is one of only three native cultivated fruits in North America. Because the plant is actually meant to grow in the natural environment, many growing and harvesting practices already help the surrounding land and could be considered sustainable, under normal conditions. The berry grows best in boggy, water-soaked soil that can’t be used for many other crops. And every one acre of cranberry bog requires 5.5 acres of wild marsh needed around it — a built-in wetlands preservation strategy.  “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Chris Ferzli, director of global corporate affairs and communications for Ocean Spray, the well-known agricultural co-operative, which generates annual revenue of about $2 billion. “The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land.” Ocean Spray recently took advantage of the crop’s natural sustainability to become the first major food manufacturer in the United States to have its entire crop be certified “100 percent sustainable.” Specifically, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) used its Farm Sustainability Assessment to verify that each organization within Ocean Spray’s 700-farm co-op is operating with regenerative agriculture in mind.  The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. SAI’s Farm Sustainability Assessment dives into 112 questions over 17 categories to evaluate a farm’s investment in sustainable practices. The questions range from the safety of workers to nuanced issues of greenhouse gas emissions, and they are categorized in three ways: “essential,” “basic” and “advanced.”  For example, one question — “Do you take measures to maximize energy use efficiency such as optimizing your farm equipment and optimizing electricity use?” — checks if farmers are reducing non-renewable sources of energy, avoiding forest degradation or conversion and optimizing farm equipment usage.  In order for the crop to be considered 100 percent sustainable, all of Ocean Spray’s farms had to score well for 100 percent of the 23 essential questions, at least 80 percent of the 60 basic questions and at least 50 percent of the 29 advanced questions.  A third-party auditor, SCS Global, verified each Ocean Spray farm’s answers.  “The biggest challenge was the gap in how we define things and how a certifying body might define things,” Ocean Spray farmer Nicole Hansen wrote in an email when asked to describe how tough the certification process was from the farmer’s point of view. “In the end, we are all talking the same language. Maybe just a different dialect.”  Hansen’s farm, Cranberry Creek Cranberries, joined the Ocean Spray co-op in the late 1990s and is one of the largest producers in Wisconsin. According to Ferzli, the adjustments the farmers had to make were few and mostly centered on upgrading technologies that made sense for the specific bogs.  There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. For example, moisture probes help farmers conserve water by collecting real-time data and only watering when the soil dips below a certain limit instead of on a set schedule. Temperature monitors feed into smart systems and are able to more accurately measure temperatures at both the top and bottom of a cranberry bed than traditionally handheld thermometers.  When building new beds, laser levelers help ensure the bed is flat and even, so that floodwater moves efficiently during harvest season, keeping the amount needed at a minimum. Farmers also addressed irrigation systems and sprinklers that had unnecessary runoff, causing water waste.  While most of these changes were inexpensive, Ferzli said Ocean Spray does help its farmers apply for grants so they can put the most innovative and sustainable technologies in place, including the Baker-Polito Administration grant that awarded $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers in 2019, 15 of which are part of the Ocean Spray co-op. Another factor leading to Ocean Spray’s milestone was the structural history of the cranberry crop. Cranberries are already a very consolidated operation with almost all of the U.S.’s cranberries grown in Wisconsin or Massachusetts. In 2017 , Wisconsin produced 5.4 billion barrels and Massachusetts produced 1.9 million. Ocean Spray’s co-op makes up a large percentage of those farms. In fact, of the 414 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, 65 percent are part of the Ocean Spray family.  The coalition of cranberry growers and the administrative structure in place was vital. Ocean Spray growers already submit a farm assessment survey required by retail partners such as Walmart that covers the health and safety of their workers and renewable energy.  That meant the co-op had the structure to distribute the SAI Platform survey, collect the data, make adjustments and comply with an audit, making getting to 100 percent much more feasible and streamlined than if the structure weren’t already in place.  “The farmers wanted to do it,” Ferzli said. “There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it.” The verification applies to Ocean Spray’s agriculture program and operations for three years. The company plans to survey the farmers every year and continue the verification process every three years when it comes up for audit. Only then will we know if growing sustainably is sustainable for the business.   Pull Quote The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Ocean Spray cranberry farm. Courtesy of Ocean Spray Close Authorship

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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

It’s time to prioritize the survival of indigenous people, the world’s forest stewards

June 2, 2020 by  
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It’s time to prioritize the survival of indigenous people, the world’s forest stewards Carol Goodstein Tue, 06/02/2020 – 00:00 Hunting and gathering for food is taking on a whole new meaning of late. The ever-lengthening line at my local Whole Foods starts to wrap around the outside of the store before 7 a.m., as socially distanced shoppers — securely donned in gloves, masks and even plastic face shields — wait nervously to scavenge for their week’s worth of essentials along with their COVID-19 indulgences: the extra bars of Hu chocolates and Enjoy Life cookies, in my family’s case. We once thought of foraging as an activity engaged in only by our very remote ancestors and distant “primitive” people. But the spread of COVID-19 has heightened the subsistence survival instinct in all of us. In a way, we are not so dissimilar from “primitive” people in places such as the Amazon Basin as we might have thought.  And now, we’re all vulnerable to the same pandemic virus. Only with virtually no resistance, no access to medical treatment and a government that condones the deforestation and development of their lands, it’s far worse for indigenous people. Companies and consumers everywhere have a role to play. In fact, COVID-19 has created an opportunity for companies to be more cognizant and compassionate in their approach — more aware of the direct and indirect responsibility for the impact they have on people in places where they operate. So as the spread of COVID sickens and kills front-line workers in meat-packing plants across the country and suppliers are forced to curtail operations — leaving the meat section of local supermarkets looking, well, a little lean — what about the places where this meat comes from, namely Brazil, which according to the USDA is the world’s largest beef exporter? Tribal people living in the Amazon Basin have been made even more vulnerable to the virus by the recent uptick in deforestation. While many companies are doing right by their workers in U.S. plants, why not — in the spirit of cognizant corporate citizenship, stakeholder accountability and stewardship, let alone brand reputation — help to protect people in Brazil that are not only particularly vulnerable to the virus but whose very survival is directly linked to the protection of forests?  While the current pandemic may be overwhelming America’s medical system, killing our healthcare workers, tanking our economy and generally frying our collective nerves, the indigenous people of Brazil — the country from which a lot of our meat as well as the soy used to feed farm animals is produced — have virtually no access to healthcare, let alone hand sanitizer. President Jair Bolsonaro, along with slashing funding mandated to protect indigenous rights and proposing to open up oil and gas exploration and hydropower development on indigenous territories, effectively eliminated the availability of rural healthcare by driving out the thousands of Cuban healthcare providers who used to service indigenous communities prior to his presidency. As the nationwide death toll in Brazil soars above 11,000 and reliable data on indigenous infections and deaths is hard to come by, a recent survey by the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Association found the virus has reached 38 groups in the country with 446 cases of the new coronavirus and 92 deaths reported as of mid-May, mainly in the Brazilian Amazon. Tribal people living in the Amazon Basin have been made even more vulnerable to the virus by the recent uptick in deforestation, up by nearly 64 percent in April, compared to the same month last year, according to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. Last month alone, more than 156 square miles of rainforest were destroyed — an area about the size of Philadelphia. While indigenous people are locking down like the rest us, when they do, their lands are left even more vulnerable to brazen land grabbing, which also has been alarmingly on the rise.  Well before the pandemic, Bolsonaro made no secret of his intention to open the Amazon to increased economic activity, and he’s been determined since the start of his time in office not to let indigenous tribes stand in his way. As he said, “They don’t work. They don’t bring in money for Brazil, only burdens.” Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has downplayed the effects of the virus even more than other presidents, describing it as a “little flu” and a trifling “cold” and accused the media of manufacturing “hysteria.” Emboldened by Bolsonaro’s stance, indigenous leaders have been targeted in increasing numbers over the past year — even before the outbreak of the virus. Last year, there were at least 10 documented indigenous murders, as Bolsonaro effectively has declared open season on indigenous peoples who stand in the way of economic expansion, writ deforestation. While the Bolsonaro administration has made its dismissive if not genocidal attitude toward indigenous people patently clear, agribusinesses operating in Brazil could, just for example, step in. The opportunity to display corporate social responsibility has taken on new urgency as indigenous leaders call out these businesses as culprits in the ravaging of their lands and families. “What we are asking from the multinationals is that they not buy commodities that cause deforestation and conflict and that are produced on indigenous lands. We are also demanding that bilateral trade agreements … demand respect for indigenous rights and ensure there are no products linked to deforestation coming into their countries,” declared Dinamam Tuxá , coordinator and legal adviser to the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. While a number of soy and beef producing companies have set time-bound targets for eliminating deforestation from their supply chains, deforestation continues to escalate.  Shoppers at Sam’s Club, Safeway and Target may notice a paucity of meat at their local megastores, but all of us have a collective responsibility to protect the indigenous people who help to protect lands and species on which we all depend.  In addition to banning, or at least dramatically reducing deforestation, why don’t companies, while they’re at it, support communities who know a thing or two not only about hunting and gathering but about protecting the lungs of our world? Pull Quote Tribal people living in the Amazon Basin have been made even more vulnerable to the virus by the recent uptick in deforestation. Topics Forestry COVID-19 Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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It’s time to prioritize the survival of indigenous people, the world’s forest stewards

The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

May 18, 2020 by  
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Farmers are burying onions, destroying tomatoes and grinding up heads of lettuce to return to the soil. Dairy workers are dumping milk. These images of food destruction have horrified Americans during the pandemic . Farmers shouldn’t have to destroy the crops they’ve poured their money, energy, time and strength into. Hungry people shouldn’t witness the destruction of food that they could cook for their families. But farmers and organizations are working to save this food and bring it to those in need. COVID-19 has hurt people in many ways, but the food supply chain has been hit especially hard. Since restaurants, hotels, schools and cruise ships have shut down, farmers have lost about 40% of their customer base on average. Some farms have lost their main outlets. For example, RC Hatton Farms in Florida has had to disk — that is, grind up and recycle into the soil — hundreds of acres of cabbage since the crop has lost its future as KFC slaw. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Meanwhile, with the U.S. unemployment rate stretching toward 15% , more Americans could make use of those crops. The question is, how can the food supply chains be rerouted before all of the vegetables and milk spoil? Worldwide food insecurity may double this year because of COVID-19. In relatively affluent America, people are waiting in line for hours to get to food pantries. Fortunately, the world is full of clever and helpful people. From individuals to large organizations, people are devising ways to redistribute food to those who need it. From farms to food banks Food banks are nonprofit organizations that store food donated from retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals. This food is then distributed to food pantries, where people can take home food to eat. Food pantries provide millions of free meals per year. With their restaurant and institutional clients closed by COVID-19, more farmers are trying to donate crops straight to food banks. But donation doesn’t come free. While most farmers would vastly prefer to donate their vegetables than to let them rot in fields, those crops don’t harvest themselves. Nor do they pack themselves for shipping or drive to the nearest food bank. Some states are working hard to facilitate getting crops to the people. At the end of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.64 million expansion to the state’s Farm to Family program. By the end of the year, he expects this campaign to reach $15 million. The Farm to Family program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks. The USDA has approved redirecting $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the California Association of Food Banks. This will help cover costs of picking, packing and transporting the produce to food banks. “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink,” Newsom said in a press release. “It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks . And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.” In New Mexico, the state chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) launched its own Farm to Foodbank program. The group will fund farmers to continue producing organic produce, which will be routed to food pantries. AFSC is also helping farmers buy supplies, such as seeds, masks, gloves and irrigation systems. In return, the farmers sign contracts promising produce to community members suffering from food insecurity. For example, farmers at Acoma Pueblo requested seeds and promised to donate a part of their crops to the senior center. Help from private companies Some companies are also assisting in moving surplus crops to food banks. Florida-based Publix Super Markets has long been donating food to Feeding America’s member food banks and other nonprofits. In the last 10 years, Publix has donated about $2 billion worth of food, or 480 million pounds. Now, the supermarket chain is stepping up its efforts and buying unsold fresh milk and produce from Florida and regional producers and donating these goods to Feeding America food banks. “As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Todd Jones, chief executive officer of Publix, told NPR . Other supermarket chains have announced large monetary donations to food banks during the pandemic, including $50 million from Albertsons. Kroger Co. set up a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund. To celebrate Earth Day , Natural Grocers donated $50,000 in gift cards to food banks. Individual giving Some farmers have taken direct action to get their crops to families. Idaho potato farmer Ryan Cranney invited the public to help themselves to his millions of unsold potatoes. “At first I thought we’d have maybe 20 people,” Cranney said in an interview . He was amazed when thousands of people drove to his town, with a population of 700, and hauled away potatoes. “We saw people from as far away as Las Vegas, which is an 8-hour drive from here,” he said. Of course, most of us don’t have millions of potatoes to spare. But we can still help food banks. In better times, food banks appreciate shelf-stable foods like peanut butter and tomato paste. But right now, the best thing you can do as an individual is to give money. Feeding America, the biggest hunger relief organization in the U.S, has about 200 member food banks. If you’re able to spare a few dollars, you can donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund . Via CBS 8 , Santa Fe New Mexican and Politico Images via Philippe Collard , Hai Nguyen , U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dennis Sparks

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

May 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Comments Off on The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

Farmers are burying onions, destroying tomatoes and grinding up heads of lettuce to return to the soil. Dairy workers are dumping milk. These images of food destruction have horrified Americans during the pandemic . Farmers shouldn’t have to destroy the crops they’ve poured their money, energy, time and strength into. Hungry people shouldn’t witness the destruction of food that they could cook for their families. But farmers and organizations are working to save this food and bring it to those in need. COVID-19 has hurt people in many ways, but the food supply chain has been hit especially hard. Since restaurants, hotels, schools and cruise ships have shut down, farmers have lost about 40% of their customer base on average. Some farms have lost their main outlets. For example, RC Hatton Farms in Florida has had to disk — that is, grind up and recycle into the soil — hundreds of acres of cabbage since the crop has lost its future as KFC slaw. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Meanwhile, with the U.S. unemployment rate stretching toward 15% , more Americans could make use of those crops. The question is, how can the food supply chains be rerouted before all of the vegetables and milk spoil? Worldwide food insecurity may double this year because of COVID-19. In relatively affluent America, people are waiting in line for hours to get to food pantries. Fortunately, the world is full of clever and helpful people. From individuals to large organizations, people are devising ways to redistribute food to those who need it. From farms to food banks Food banks are nonprofit organizations that store food donated from retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals. This food is then distributed to food pantries, where people can take home food to eat. Food pantries provide millions of free meals per year. With their restaurant and institutional clients closed by COVID-19, more farmers are trying to donate crops straight to food banks. But donation doesn’t come free. While most farmers would vastly prefer to donate their vegetables than to let them rot in fields, those crops don’t harvest themselves. Nor do they pack themselves for shipping or drive to the nearest food bank. Some states are working hard to facilitate getting crops to the people. At the end of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.64 million expansion to the state’s Farm to Family program. By the end of the year, he expects this campaign to reach $15 million. The Farm to Family program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks. The USDA has approved redirecting $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the California Association of Food Banks. This will help cover costs of picking, packing and transporting the produce to food banks. “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink,” Newsom said in a press release. “It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks . And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.” In New Mexico, the state chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) launched its own Farm to Foodbank program. The group will fund farmers to continue producing organic produce, which will be routed to food pantries. AFSC is also helping farmers buy supplies, such as seeds, masks, gloves and irrigation systems. In return, the farmers sign contracts promising produce to community members suffering from food insecurity. For example, farmers at Acoma Pueblo requested seeds and promised to donate a part of their crops to the senior center. Help from private companies Some companies are also assisting in moving surplus crops to food banks. Florida-based Publix Super Markets has long been donating food to Feeding America’s member food banks and other nonprofits. In the last 10 years, Publix has donated about $2 billion worth of food, or 480 million pounds. Now, the supermarket chain is stepping up its efforts and buying unsold fresh milk and produce from Florida and regional producers and donating these goods to Feeding America food banks. “As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Todd Jones, chief executive officer of Publix, told NPR . Other supermarket chains have announced large monetary donations to food banks during the pandemic, including $50 million from Albertsons. Kroger Co. set up a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund. To celebrate Earth Day , Natural Grocers donated $50,000 in gift cards to food banks. Individual giving Some farmers have taken direct action to get their crops to families. Idaho potato farmer Ryan Cranney invited the public to help themselves to his millions of unsold potatoes. “At first I thought we’d have maybe 20 people,” Cranney said in an interview . He was amazed when thousands of people drove to his town, with a population of 700, and hauled away potatoes. “We saw people from as far away as Las Vegas, which is an 8-hour drive from here,” he said. Of course, most of us don’t have millions of potatoes to spare. But we can still help food banks. In better times, food banks appreciate shelf-stable foods like peanut butter and tomato paste. But right now, the best thing you can do as an individual is to give money. Feeding America, the biggest hunger relief organization in the U.S, has about 200 member food banks. If you’re able to spare a few dollars, you can donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund . Via CBS 8 , Santa Fe New Mexican and Politico Images via Philippe Collard , Hai Nguyen , U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dennis Sparks

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

May 11, 2020 by  
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A stunning cabin in upstate New York is making waves thanks to groundbreaking technology that allowed it to be 3D-printed with wood waste. Headed by architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH was able to repurpose wood from ash trees damaged by an invasive beetle species to build the Ashen Cabin, a modern, tiny cabin completely constructed using 3D-printing of timber and concrete. Located in Ithaca, New York, the innovative cabin definitely stands out for its distinct shape. Ash wood cladding connects it to the lush woodland setting, while whimsical features, such as curved wood paneling and thick, triangular concrete pillars, create a futuristic, almost spaceship-like, feel. The prominent use of ash wood was specifically chosen to make use of damaged ash wood trees. Related: 3D-printed micro cabin in Amsterdam welcomes anyone to spend the night Tunneling into the trees’ bark to lay eggs, the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to America’s ash tree population. In their wake, these ruthless beetles leave 8.7 billion trees across the country so damaged that they cannot even be used by sawmills as lumber. Specifically, nearly one in 10 ash trees in New York state are destroyed by the pesky insects. But now, working with innovative design methods, HANNAH has discovered a remedy that can’t quite protect the trees from their beetle nemesis but enables a sustainable way to use the waste wood . Zivkovic explained, “Infested ash trees are a very specific form of ‘waste material’ and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should — develop strategies to use them as a material resource.” To begin the project, the firm decided on a two-tier process, first building a robotic platform that was specifically designed for processing the irregular ash trees and a separate system for using 3D-printed concrete. The first step was repurposing a six-axis robot arm found on eBay to cut pre-shaped planks that fit together like puzzle pieces. The repurposed robot allowed the designers to work with the otherwise worthless wood waste. The second step involved creating a solid, eco-friendly base for the cabin. Again going with a highly innovative processing strategy, the team manufactured nine interlocking, 3D-printed concrete segments that were used to form the footing, cabin floor, chimney and interior fixtures. This method avoided the need to build a large frame and base for the cabin. Using the minimum amount of concrete possible, the designers were able to reduce the project’s overall footprint while providing a strong, resilient base. With the durable concrete base and unique shaping of the wood volume, the cabin shows just how fun and functional sustainable architecture can be. + HANNAH Via The Architect’s Newspaper Photography by Andy Chen and Reuben Chen via HANNAH; drawings by HANNAH

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

May 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

A stunning cabin in upstate New York is making waves thanks to groundbreaking technology that allowed it to be 3D-printed with wood waste. Headed by architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH was able to repurpose wood from ash trees damaged by an invasive beetle species to build the Ashen Cabin, a modern, tiny cabin completely constructed using 3D-printing of timber and concrete. Located in Ithaca, New York, the innovative cabin definitely stands out for its distinct shape. Ash wood cladding connects it to the lush woodland setting, while whimsical features, such as curved wood paneling and thick, triangular concrete pillars, create a futuristic, almost spaceship-like, feel. The prominent use of ash wood was specifically chosen to make use of damaged ash wood trees. Related: 3D-printed micro cabin in Amsterdam welcomes anyone to spend the night Tunneling into the trees’ bark to lay eggs, the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to America’s ash tree population. In their wake, these ruthless beetles leave 8.7 billion trees across the country so damaged that they cannot even be used by sawmills as lumber. Specifically, nearly one in 10 ash trees in New York state are destroyed by the pesky insects. But now, working with innovative design methods, HANNAH has discovered a remedy that can’t quite protect the trees from their beetle nemesis but enables a sustainable way to use the waste wood . Zivkovic explained, “Infested ash trees are a very specific form of ‘waste material’ and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should — develop strategies to use them as a material resource.” To begin the project, the firm decided on a two-tier process, first building a robotic platform that was specifically designed for processing the irregular ash trees and a separate system for using 3D-printed concrete. The first step was repurposing a six-axis robot arm found on eBay to cut pre-shaped planks that fit together like puzzle pieces. The repurposed robot allowed the designers to work with the otherwise worthless wood waste. The second step involved creating a solid, eco-friendly base for the cabin. Again going with a highly innovative processing strategy, the team manufactured nine interlocking, 3D-printed concrete segments that were used to form the footing, cabin floor, chimney and interior fixtures. This method avoided the need to build a large frame and base for the cabin. Using the minimum amount of concrete possible, the designers were able to reduce the project’s overall footprint while providing a strong, resilient base. With the durable concrete base and unique shaping of the wood volume, the cabin shows just how fun and functional sustainable architecture can be. + HANNAH Via The Architect’s Newspaper Photography by Andy Chen and Reuben Chen via HANNAH; drawings by HANNAH

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

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