How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation

February 8, 2021 by  
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How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation Nidia Martínez Mon, 02/08/2021 – 00:44 Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly becoming incorporated across all aspects of organizations, including business strategies, operations and product/service offerings. Recent global research of boards of directors by Willis Towers Watson found that 70 to 80 percent of respondents have identified ESG priorities and developed ESG implementation plans. However, only 48 percent have fully incorporated ESG into their businesses, indicating that organizations are at different stages in their ESG journeys. While the most cited reason for taking ESG actions is that they see it as the right thing to do, over three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents indicate that they believe ESG is a key contributor to strong financial performance. Although many organizations have adopted ESG principles, executives and boards could do more to meet the demands of institutional investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders especially in regard to climate change risk. Some 41 percent of respondents ranked the environment — including climate change — as their leading ESG priority; and 43 percent anticipated it will remain No. 1 in three years. A particularly effective way to advance ESG principles is through redefining responsible leadership. And one of the most useful tools in prompting leaders to address climate change and make their organizations more sustainable is through compensation and incentive programs, and the incorporation of new climate-action metrics into such programs. Rising demand for sustainable solutions The drive to make companies more climate resilient and sustainable started with institutional investors, long aware of climate risk. Consumer awareness, likewise, has grown significantly as climate change becomes more apparent in their daily lives amid news stories about extreme weather, such as wildfires. Many consumers are more conscious than ever when choosing brands whose policies meet their own interests. For some, this attitude carries over as a factor in the companies they choose to work for, further encouraging organizations to incorporate climate action and sustainability, among other ESG criteria, to help attract and engage the best talent. Only 48% of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations. Despite this backdrop, many boards have not incorporated climate awareness into their organizations yet. Analysis of company public disclosures conducted by Willis Towers Watson shows that while about 11 percent of the top 350 European companies have CO2 emissions linked to their incentive plans, only 2 percent of US S&P 500 companies have it. As we look forward, nearly four out of five (78 percent) survey respondents plan to change their use of ESG priorities in executive incentive plans over the next three years, with 40 percent looking to introduce ESG measures into long-term incentive plans and nearly one-third looking to increase the prominence of environmental measures. Executives acknowledge need for climate action Despite the lack of environmental and climate metrics in executive compensation and rewards programs, executives acknowledge the need to address climate risk. According to a 2019 survey by the United Nations (UN) and Accenture , 71 percent of CEOs believe that — with increased commitment and action — business can play a critical role in contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Yet only 48 percent of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations, consistent with the findings from Willis Towers Watson’s research as noted earlier. Our research found that the most common challenges cited when incorporating ESG metrics into executive compensation plans include setting targets (52 percent), identifying (48 percent) and defining (47 percent) performance metrics, and establishing time periods to affect meaningful change (35 percent). Given these responses, it is fair to assume that the lack of standardized climate change metrics is holding back the wider adoption of including climate action in executive compensation. Furthermore, every business has a measurable carbon footprint. Therefore, boards can make reducing that footprint — with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality — a metric for their organizations and incorporate it into executive compensation. As every industry is different, the metrics to incentivize climate action need to be customized by sector, as highlighted through the industry-specific standards provided by the Sustainability Accountability Standards Board or other climate change disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). As organizations refine their climate change strategies and disclosures, they can start to consider the linkages to their executive compensation programs. Multiple ways to link executive pay to climate action As indicated by our research, more boards will be linking relevant climate action measures to executive incentive plans over the next few years. There are a few ways to make the connection, ranging from underpins to modifiers to short-term incentive (STI) plans to key performance indicators (KPIs) within long-term incentive (LTI) plans to standalone hyper-long-term incentive plans. An underpin (or minimum funding threshold) is most appropriate in the case of a company with meaningfully high CO2 emissions that newly introduces climate sustainability metrics. It should include a threshold or basic level of CO2 emissions required for some payout under other incentive plan metrics to occur. An individual performance rating modifier can be tailored to an individual’s role and improve line-of-sight for more qualitative or strategic climate change objectives, but it may not promote collaboration by participants to achieve a common material goal. Plan modifiers are standalone metrics that consider the “how” and the “what.” A modifier allows for the entire STI or LTI award payout to be increased or decreased by a certain percentage. If the underlying target is met, then no modification would be made and the underlying STI or LTI award would be made based on the other metrics. KPIs provide a direct measure that reinforces the importance of climate change and usually are easily communicated, quantifiable objectives. A more highly weighted metric requires clear linkages to funded metrics, but the KPI needs to have a material weighting to demonstrate its importance to plan participants and external stakeholders. KPIs in LTI plans introduce standalone climate change metrics that are most appropriate if there is a longer time horizon to produce measurable results (such as carbon emission reductions). A drawback, however, is the length of performance period may dilute momentum to achieve sustainability results, the key drivers of LTI plan performance, and could de-emphasize financial/market performance. Standalone incentive plans are separate from other incentive plans, with the sole purpose of measuring sustainability performance and reducing climate risk (such as a hyper-long term that aligns with the sustainability strategy). Such plans encourage participants to take a longer-term view of performance, but they may be difficult to communicate or viewed as duplicative of other incentives. Because most CO2 emission reduction targets tend to have longer-term horizons, the typical annual and three-year incentives may not be directly aligned with these goals. Nonetheless, even short-term incentives can have a significant impact in terms of corporate culture. But to encourage longer-term decision making (for example, a target period of 10 years) often associated with large capital investments, and to emphasize its prominence, companies could introduce a separate, hyper-long-term incentive plan focused solely on CO2 emission reductions. Modern incentive plans are based on time as a constant (such as one- or three-year performance periods) and performance as a variable (achievement of threshold, target, stretch goals). However, a hyper-LTI could allow a different variation, in that the performance goal could be treated as constant (CO2 emission reduction of 50 percent) and time could be treated as the variable. Thus, encouraging early achievement of goals via incentive upside, and conversely punishing delayed achievement of CO2 reduction targets with an incentive downside. Climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. Implementing such incentive arrangements may not be straightforward. Companies will need to consider whether and how best to rebalance other components of pay, how to deal with disclosures of mega-LTI grants, and ensure that targets are sufficiently stretched so that proxy advisers do not perceive these plans to have soft targets as way of boosting executive pay. Large institutional investors have supported proposals for long-term alignment between CO2 emissions and incentives, provided that the quantum and opportunity are properly calibrated, and mechanics are carefully laid out. To convince skeptics, focus on the bottom line For boards and management that are a little more suspect of climate sustainability, consider that climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. As the World Economic Forum’s January 2019 publication on effective climate governance for boards sets out, monetary incentives for senior management teams should be tied to long-term organizational goals that contribute to resilience and prosperity over time. There is little to prevent linking climate-risk and opportunity-related factors to compensation if they are material to an organization’s long-term sustainability, value creation and risk mitigation. Executive compensation always has been an effective tool to foster innovation. Now we must marshal its power to encourage the march toward a climate resilient future. Pull Quote Only 48% of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations. Climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. Contributors Ryan Resch Topics Leadership Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience WEForum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Illustration of a deal being closed. Shutterstock kentoh Close Authorship

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How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation

UK plans to reduce grey squirrel population via contraceptives

January 28, 2021 by  
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There’s not much cuter than a baby squirrel — until they grow up to be invasive acorn hoarders that interfere with tree planting and, by extension, efforts to slow  climate change . So, U.K. environment minister Lord Goldsmith has announced it’s time to put these squirrels on the pill. And what a delicious oral contraceptive it will be. The plan is that grey squirrels will follow their noses into special squirrel-only feeding boxes containing contraceptive-spiked hazelnut spread. Even the most reckless breeders are likely to succumb to  family  planning when it tastes this good. Related: Could contraception for pigeons be a humane option for population control? “We hope advances in science can safely help our nature to thrive, including through the humane control of  invasive species ,” the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told BBC News on Tuesday. An estimated three million grey squirrels, along with their fellow invasive species, damage U.K. woodlands to the tune of £1.8 billion a year. Grey squirrels came to the  U.K.  from North America in the late 1800s. Since then, they’ve gone on a bark-stripping rampage. Their favorite targets are younger trees between 10 and 50 years old, especially ecologically important broad-leafed types such as oak. Grey squirrels also displaced native red squirrels. Only about 140,000 red squirrels remain in the U.K., according to  The Wildlife Trusts . Simon Lloyd, chief executive of the Royal Forestry Society, has accused grey squirrels of undermining efforts to combat global warming. New  trees  must be protected in order to “deliver the carbon capture or biodiversity objectives if grey squirrels cannot be controlled,” Lloyd told the Daily Telegraph. The Royal Forestry Society is one of 37 conservation and land management organizations that make up the UK Squirrel Accord ( UKSA ), which proposed the contraceptive strategy. The plan has the royal okay. Prince Charles, a patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, wrote of  Britain’s  few surviving red squirrels, “These charming and intelligent creatures never fail to delight.” But grey squirrels? Not so charming. UKSA has been investigating delivery methods for more than three years. In an East Yorkshire test last year,  researchers  added dye to the hazelnut bait that would cause squirrel hair to fluoresce in UV light. They were able to conclude that 90% of their test subjects visited the traps. UKSA is hoping to drastically reduce grey squirrel numbers without having to resort to shotguns or other lethal measures. Via BBC Lead image via Pexels

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UK plans to reduce grey squirrel population via contraceptives

Animal activist impersonates Smithfield CEO on Fox News

December 29, 2020 by  
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Activist Matt Johnson won great acclaim from  animal rights  supporters by pulling off a neat trick: fooling Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo into interviewing him as Dennis Organ, the new CEO of Smithfield Foods, on her show last Wednesday. The prank went on for six minutes before Bartiromo caught on that something was gravely amiss. Unfortunately, those who want to watch the full hilarious video on  YouTube  are now blocked by the message, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fox Business Network (Fox Corporation).” However, you can find clips from the interview in a CNN video  here .  Related: Can robot dolphins replace real ones in marine parks? Bartiromo started the interview by asking Johnson about conditions at “his” company’s  South Dakota  pork processing plant, the site of the country’s worst COVID-19 cluster early in the pandemic. Johnson was respectful when talking about the workers, nearly 1,300 of whom contracted the disease, and four of whom died. In September, the U.S. Department of Labor fined the company $13,494 for failing to protect its employees — a fine which Smithfield contested. As the interview progressed, Johnson said Smithfield was taking responsibility for the awful conditions its workers endure. “The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next  pandemic ,” he said during the interview. He described Smithfield’s farms as “petri dishes for new diseases” and said hog farming “causes immense damage to our air and waterways.” While Smithfield Foods was founded in 1936 in Virginia, Chinese company WH Group, formerly known as Shuanghui International, bought it in 2013 for $4.7 billion. Johnson pledged “half a billion dollars a year starting in 2021” on behalf of WH Group to mitigate the environmental devastation of the  meat  industry. Perhaps this was the statement that led to Bartiromo finally recognizing the prank. At the end of her show, she issued a “very important correction,” calling Johnson an imposter who made false claims about Smithfield. In Bartiromo’s own words, “It appears that we have been punked.” Matt Johnson is actually the press coordinator for  Direct Action Everywhere . The  Smithfield  prank was part of the organization’s No More Factory Farms campaign. “A pandemic is ravaging global society, the sky is practically on fire, slaughterhouse workers are dying, and billions of  animals  are suffering needlessly,” Johnson said in a statement. “The signs could not be clearer. We must take bold action now.” Via The Daily Beast and CBS News Image via LinkedinEditors

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BP, Shell, oil giants fund research into mobile carbon capture from ships at sea

October 26, 2020 by  
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BP, Shell, oil giants fund research into mobile carbon capture from ships at sea Michael Holder Mon, 10/26/2020 – 00:05 A coalition of oil and gas majors are eyeing up the potential to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ships out at sea, teaming up with global tanker owner and operator Stena Bulk to evaluate the feasibility of technology they claim could play a key role in decarbonizing the hard-to-abate sector. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) — which represents 12 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Aramco and Petrobras — revealed recently it is funding research alongside Stena Bulk into mobile carbon capture on board ships out at sea. The project aims to evaluate the technical and economic challenges involved in capturing CO2 from ships cruising the oceans, and is in part an extension to OGCI member Saudi Aramco’s research which it claims has successfully demonstrated carbon capture on board heavy-duty trucks on roads, it said. “Carbon capture will play an important role in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, but there’s no reason it needs to be limited to stationary applications,” said Michael Traver, head of OGCI’s transport workstream. “Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use, while addressing a difficult to abate sector of the transport industry.” Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use. OGCI claims mobile carbon capture technologies aboard ships could help the global shipping sector reach its current climate target to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2050, from a 2008 baseline — a goal that has faced criticism from green groups for lacking ambition. The research itself is also likely to provoke renewed criticism of the OCGI’s priorities, given it focuses on CCS technologies that would in effect prolong the use of fossil fuels to power ships, rather than on alternative, low or zero carbon shipping fuels that could transition the sector away from fossil fuels altogether. But Stena Bulk President and CEO Erik Hånell argued it was “increasingly evident that we need to evaluate as many potential solutions as possible that might help decarbonize the industry.” “Carbon capture might be such a solution with the potential to play a key role in this transition, and this feasibility study presents a unique opportunity for us to work with some of our key customers to understand and assess the technical and economic challenges involved in making carbon capture work onboard vessels,” he said. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and has received flak over its failure to come up with a detailed, ambitious plan to decarbonize in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) — the UN-affiliated body which oversees the global shipping sector — agreed on a draft target to cut global emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008, alongside targets to cut the average carbon intensity by at least 40 percent by 2030. However, details of the strategy have yet to be fully thrashed out, and crunch negotiations over how the industry should go about meeting its near-term 2030 climate goals are set to kick off today at the IMO, amid concerns from green groups that current proposals amount to an “empty shell. ” Meanwhile, the OGCI today announced that its members collectively have reduced the cut their absolute upstream methane emissions by 22 percent since 2017, shrinking the methane intensity of members’ upstream oil and gas to operations to 0.23 percent. It surpasses its target to cut methane intensity to 0.25 percent by 2020, and as such the OGCI has set a stricter goal of 0.2 percent by 2025. Moreover, the group claims to have cut its carbon intensity by 7 percent collectively since 2017, as it pushes towards its target for a 13 percent cut.  However, carbon intensity targets have faced increasing criticism from green groups, as organizations potentially can still increase their overall emissions by expanding their business while reducing the CO2 intensity of their operations.  Pull Quote Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Topics Oil & Gas Carbon Removal Shipping & Logistics BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Stena Conqueror is a Oil and Chemical Tanker, built by Swedish tanker giant Stena Bulk. The company is participating in a novel carbon capture project for shipping. Flickr royvanwijk Close Authorship

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BP, Shell, oil giants fund research into mobile carbon capture from ships at sea

Burger King announces reusable container pilot program

October 23, 2020 by  
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If the ghosts of fast food containers past are haunting your conscience, Burger King has the solution. The fast food giant has announced a pilot plan to introduce reusable containers. Burger King is partnering with Loop , a circular packaging service owned by TerraCycle, to provide the new containers. Consumers can opt to pay a container deposit when buying a meal. When they return the packaging, they get a refund. Loop cleans the packaging, preparing it for a long life of housing infinite Whoppers and Cokes. The pilot program will go into effect next year in Tokyo, New York City and Portland, Oregon. If it goes well, more cities will soon know the joy of a recycled Whopper box. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “As part of our Restaurant Brands for Good plan, we’re investing in the development of sustainable packaging solutions that will help push the food service industry forward in reducing packaging waste ,” said Matthew Banton, Burger King Global’s head of innovation and sustainability. “The Loop system gives us the confidence in a reusable solution that meets our high safety standards, while also offering convenience for our guests on the go.” Burger King has set a goal of 100% of customer packaging being sourced from recycled, renewable or certified sources by 2025. The company is also trying to improve its waste diversion. By 2025, Burger King restaurants in the U.S. and Canada aim to recycle 100% of guest packaging. The pandemic has focused even more attention on packaging, since so many restaurants are closed for in-house dining. “During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of increased takeaway ordering which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important,” said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, as reported in BusinessWire . “This enables Burger King consumers to easily bring reusability into their daily lives, and whether they choose to eat-in or takeaway, they will be able to get some of their favorite food and drinks in a reusable container.” Via BusinessWire and Business Insider Image via Burger King / BusinessWire

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How 2 gadgets are going to change China and the world

October 14, 2020 by  
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Pollution. Smog. Dirty air. It’s all around us. Sometimes, you can see the pollution hanging in the air. Pollution is a huge public health problem, especially in China. But how big is the problem? There’s no precise answer to that question. At least, not yet. A couple of amazing new inventions may just change that. Many of the world’s most polluted cities are in China. It’s the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and in 2014, the country far exceeded the national standard for pollution suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO). It isn’t always easy to get accurate pollution ratings through standard methods employed by the Chinese government. Enter the Pollution Ranger. This little machine is a self-powered air quality monitor that can be placed on cars to collect data on air pollution everywhere it goes. Related: How clean is your indoor air? The Pollution Ranger is designed for full transparency of data. Anyone can use a smartphone app to access the data gathered by the device. You can use the information to check out pollution levels in your current location, or use the app to find data on a place you’re going to. Want to know how much pollution is the air? Smog Shade makes it easier to visually see exactly how polluted the air around you is. This is an installation with a sleek, circular design that shows air quality in real-time. The shade darkens to indicate how much pollution is in the air; the darker the shade is, the more polluted the air is. The Smog Shade is accessible via app as well. The app allows users to view overall city pollution or pollution levels in specific locations all over the city. Both of these inventions were designed by Huachen Xin. Xin spoke about some of the applications for the gadgets, saying, “People have the right to know the genuine air quality [around them]…based on this data, they could choose whether they need to move in or out of where they currently live. City managers could also use the data as clues to find out realtime pollution, for example, or track illegal emissions during the night.” According to Xin, the Chinese government doesn’t always offer precise pollution measurements. Sometimes, air quality monitors are purposefully put in areas where the air is cleaner. Monitors installed in parks, on rooftops and on islands in the middle of lakes aren’t getting accurate readings of city streets and neighborhoods. One study published in Lancet estimated that as many as 1.24 million deaths in China in the year 2017 were caused by air pollution. That’s a huge public health risk, and that’s why accurate pollution monitoring matters. Putting pollution data in the hands of everyone could have another effect — it shows people the reality of pollution. Hard data and accurate numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Xin hopes that real-time pollution data will encourage people to change their daily habits and help work toward reducing pollution levels. If the first step to improving air quality is raising awareness of how bad the air actually is, then devices like the Pollution Ranger and Smog Shade are going to change the world … and not a moment too soon. + Huachen Xin Images via Huachen Xin

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Scientists search for cause of mass marine die-off in Russia

October 14, 2020 by  
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Massive deaths of marine life off of the Russian Pacific Coast have left many scientists baffled. At the beginning of October, thousands of dead sea creatures were spotted along the eastern coast, after they had been pushed on the shoreline by waves. Although environmental experts have already ruled out human activity as a cause, they are still investigating other possibilities. Among the dead ocean creatures are octopuses, crabs and sea urchins. The organisms were found washed up on Khalaktyrsky Beach, which is a popular surfing destination. This week, Russian environmental officials revealed that the water where the deaths occurred has excess amounts of phosphate ion, iron and phenol. But where this pollution originated is still a puzzle to scientists. Related: Botswana elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria At the same time, environmental officials are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage. There are fears that more dead fish and other marine life could be found in other areas. Speaking to ABC News, Elena Sakirko of Greenpeace revealed that signs of trouble have also been observed farther north. We published the first results of sample analysis collected in Kamchatka where the massive die-off of benthic marine organisms happened. #SaveKamchatka pic.twitter.com/0qLeoG5RZO — Greenpeace Russia (@greenpeaceru) October 14, 2020 The most affected areas are Avacha Bay to the south and Cape Nalychev to the north. Scientists who examined the impacted waters said that about 95% of sea creatures to the depth of 15 meters have died. But local environmental officials are suggesting that the deaths are a natural occurrence. Several theories have arisen to try and explain the mass die-off. Some experts suggest that the marine organisms may have died due to a poisonous algal bloom , while others suggest that the event might have been caused by seismic activity. It is common for seismic activities in the region in question, as it is a volcanically active area. Sakirko said that it is too early to rule out any theories, including that the deaths could be caused by human activity. For now, scientists and environmental officials must continue investigations to determine the exact cause of the deaths. Via ABC News Image via Valery Balievich

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Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter

September 21, 2020 by  
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Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter Charles Orgbon Mon, 09/21/2020 – 00:45 Long before corporations acknowledged Black Lives Matter, they championed the plights of specific endangered species. Corporate conservation campaigns used phrases such as “Save the [insert your favorite animal],” which have been catchy, effective and oddly similar to the language we’re now using to educate people about the status of Black life in America. The Disney Conservation Fund protects lions, elephants, chimpanzees and thousands of other species. Ben & Jerry’s brings awareness to declining honeybee populations. Coca-Cola appropriately is the longtime ally of the poster child for climate change, the polar bear. As a kid, I, too, was influenced by Coca-Cola’s messaging. At just 11, I thought I could stop global warming, so I created a blog with articles urging people, “Save the polar bears.” No one challenged me by asking, “What about the tigers? The tigers…matter, too! All endangered species matter.” The fact is, polar bears were (and still are) drowning due to global problems. If we addressed the root causes of those global problems such as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, in fact, all endangered species would fare better. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” works similarly to “Save the polar bear,” only that Black people are drowning in a sea of systemic racism instead of a rising sea of melting ice. Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. When someone says something such as “Save the polar bears,” they are also indirectly revealing other information about themselves. Perhaps they eat organic, use public transportation, recycle or take military-style showers. Likewise, when we say “Black Lives Matter” we are actually making a declaration about our belief that injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All lives truly matter when those that are the most marginalized matter. Want to know how well our society is tackling climate change? Look to polar bears. If they’re doing good, we’re doing good. Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. I spend a lot of time thinking about how white people are just awakening to the systemic racism that continues to thrive in every aspect of American life and how this systemic racism continues to affect me daily . If so many people have gone so long without acknowledging the reality that people of color experience every day, it’s not surprising that these issues have gone on for so long. Watershed moment Sometimes a watershed moment is needed to bring attention to a crisis. After all, no one cared about polar bears until Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 volcanic eruption, which greatly influenced our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts on arctic life. The catastrophic event was one of the most significant watershed moments for climate activism. Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is amid a watershed moment. White people are awakening from their own hibernation and acknowledging that, yes, as the statistics suggest, racism still exists. For example, Black people and white people breathe different air. Black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Give more than just a cursory glance to Marvin Gaye’s ” Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) ” and you’ll discover its truisms: “Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” Researchers have found that toxic chemical exposure is linked to race : minority populations have higher levels of benzene and other dangerous aromatic chemical exposure. Lead poisoning also disproportionately affects people of color in the U.S., especially Black people. A careful examination of our nation’s statistics reveals myriad racial disparities. The polarity of experiences is startling. This influenced many well-intentioned white people to examine numerous situations and ask, “Is racial bias truly at play here?” I challenge that that’s not the question we must ask when we live in a world with such disparate statistics for communities of color. It’s much more powerful to ask, ” How is racial bias at play here?” Those who fail to confront how racial bias is often at play attempt to live in a colorblind world that does not exist. When tipping service workers, when selecting your next dentist, when making employment decisions, when raising children, seriously consider that the world is not colorblind. And to create a more equitable world, we have to fight more aggressively to counteract the evil that already exists. This is what it means to be anti-racist, or as the National Museum of African American History and Culture counsels, “Make frequent, consistent and equitable choices to be conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives.” So, what can allies do? Step 1: Take out a sticky note. Step 2: Write out the words ANTI-RACIST. Step 3: Put it on your laptop monitor and do the work. It’s a daily practice to filter your thoughts, communication and decisions through an anti-racist lens. Pull Quote Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. Topics Social Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Zoos struggling to survive during pandemic

August 4, 2020 by  
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Hundreds of zoos and aquariums across the U.S. risk being closed due to financial constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic . At the start of March this year, zoo and aquarium operators were forced to shut down to contain the spread of the virus. Four months down the line, the zoos are now on the brink of survival. Case in point is the Oakland Zoo, which has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Since zoo visitors stopped streaming in, it has been difficult for the zoo. The animals in the zoo require just over $50,000 worth of food on a daily basis, making it challenging for the zoo to continue operating without revenue from regular zoo visitors. Joel Parrott, president of the Oakland Zoo, said in an interview that the zoo will soon run out of supplies and may not survive further without funding. Related: Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens “We have already lost the bulk of our summer revenue and are living off whatever reserves we have left, but they are going to run out at some point,” Parrott said. The situation being faced by the Oakland Zoo is replicated across hundreds of other zoos and aquariums in the country. This month, the state of California allowed the Oakland Zoo to reopen its doors to visitors. But the slow revenue generated from reopening activities cannot sustain the daily maintenance and feeding needs of the animals . Zoos and aquariums in most states are seeing fewer numbers of visitors, prompting administrators to appeal for support from the local communities and governments. The National Association of Zoos and Aquariums says that about 75% of the zoos represented by the association have reopened. However, reopening does not solve the problem of financial constraints. According to Dan Ashe, president of the association, most zoos are only hitting 20% to 50% of their normal revenues. This leaves a big gap that has to be filled from other sources. With a significant drop in revenue, it becomes impossible to continue running these facilities. Tara Reimer, president and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center, said, “If we don’t have enough money to make it through the winter, we have no option but to send these animals away and close the facility.” Via Huffington Post Image via Todd Dailey

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What to do with banana peels

July 31, 2020 by  
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Banana peels. They’re so associated with comedy, you probably crack a smile just thinking about these famous casings. Bananas are a delicious snack and a little taste of the tropics that just about everyone enjoys, but they’re also an environmental problem. So what can you do with banana peels once you’ve eaten the delicious treats they keep wrapped inside? What’s the big deal? Other than being an obvious slip-and-fall hazard, what’s the big deal with banana peels? For starters, they produce methane gas. This gas is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is already pretty bad stuff for the planet. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Americans eat around 3.2 billion — yes, billion — pounds of bananas every year. That is a lot of methane-producing peels. But don’t give up on eating bananas just yet. There are plenty of environmentally friendly uses for banana peels. Banana peels as fertilizer and compost If you’re a home gardener, banana peels are a valuable resource. Wrap your peels around the base of your tomato plants. This works as a great slow-release fertilizer that provides your plants with nutrients, namely phosphorus, throughout the season. You can also soak your peels in water overnight. Take the banana-rich water and mix it with standard water to use for all your indoor plants. You want to get a ratio of about one part banana-peel water to five parts normal water. Banana peels are a great addition to the compost pile or bin because they are so rich in nutrients. The peels break down very quickly in compost. These peels are also great for animal feed as well. If you keep chickens, rabbits or any type of livestock, grind up dried banana peels and add them to your feed. Do you have aphids in your garden ? Cut two or three banana peels into pieces and dig one-inch holes near the base of your plants that are damaged from insects. Drop the pieces of peel inside. Ants and aphids will be drawn to the peels instead of to your plants. Home remedies If you have itchy bug bites or a rash, such as poison ivy, these fruit skins provide soothing relief. Rub the peel directly on the area to reduce the itchiness and help your skin heal. You can even use banana peels as a cheap polish. Rub the outer layer of peels on leather items of all kinds, including shoes and furniture, to polish the leather. Blend a peel with water to make silver polish. Need to remove a splinter? Leave the needles in the sewing kit and grab yourself a banana peel. Tape a piece of the peel to the skin directly where the splinter has embedded itself and leave it there for about 30 minutes. The enzymes in the peel will naturally draw the splinter toward the surface of the skin so it can easily be pulled out. You can integrate banana peels into your daily skincare routine, as they may help fade scars and soothe acne. Rub the fleshy part of the peel directly on your face. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before you rinse your face thoroughly. Do this every day, and you could notice an improvement in scars and acne within a week or two. Banish bugs Grab a container with a lid and poke some small holes in the lid. Place the peel inside and cover the container with the perforated lid. This is a great way to attract and trap fruit flies and other little insects. They’re drawn to the sweet smell of the banana, and then they’re trapped by your DIY trick. You can throw the peel away after a day or two and freshen the trap as needed. Cook with banana peels Get creative and start experimenting with cooking banana peels. They can be made into vinegar, pickled in brine, broiled with cinnamon and sugar to become a unique dessert or even turned into a spicy curry. There are dozens of ways to cook with the peels that you once threw away. Once you start using them in your recipes, you’re going to find all kinds of ways to give new life to those peels. Add a peel to any roasting pan when you’re cooking meat or fish. This helps to tenderize and moisten the meat while it’s cooking. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually just eat your banana peels. They’re full of antioxidants and nutrients, so they’re actually really good for you. Boil peels for about 10 minutes in water and run it through the juicer or blend it up with other fruits and enjoy! Banana peels make a great chutney ingredient, too. Soak them in cold water, then boil the peels and chop them up to mix in with other chutney ingredients to add a tasty, nutritious burst to your dish. There are several different recipes for banana tea online, or you can play around with your own recipe . If you boil the peels for about 10 minutes, enough flavor will be released into the water to create a great flavor. You can also candy your peels to use as a topping for cupcakes, cakes, yogurt, ice cream and a variety of other treats. Chop up the peel into small pieces and cook it on medium heat with a half-cup of sugar and a half-cup of water. Once it caramelizes, spread the mixture on a cookie sheet or parchment paper to allow it to cool. Then, you can chop or break it into pieces and have a sweet banana topping any time. Getting serious about banana peels It’s no laughing matter — banana peels have too many uses to simply be thrown away. The peels are a great source of both potassium, magnesium and fiber, and they’re packed with Vitamins C and B6. So if you’re throwing out your peels, you’re losing out on an all-purpose personal care product, household remedy, garden aid and cooking ingredient that can be added to just about anything. Images via Louis Hansel , t_watanabe , Vicran and bluebudgie

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What to do with banana peels

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