Diversity, equity and inclusion: Incremental reform or systemic change?

March 23, 2021 by  
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Diversity, equity and inclusion: Incremental reform or systemic change? Terry F. Yosie Tue, 03/23/2021 – 01:11 Unresolved debates about the past frame choices about who owns the future. America has arrived, once again, at another momentous inflection point to try and resolve some of the most contentious issues the nation has faced and largely failed to resolve — the narrative of American history and culture, the persistence of systemic racism, and continuing debates over women’s empowerment, personal freedom and sexual orientation. The ability to reconcile these significant challenges into a workable and equitable societal consensus will require many additional decades, but many institutions and individuals are implementing partial solutions. Among the most prominent are initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. Diversity is expressed through a variety of identities such as age, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Equity aims to provide everyone with access to opportunities and recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, while making commitments to address this imbalance. Inclusion results in individuals (and groups) with different identities feeling respected, accepted and valued. For many organizations, a direct DEI connection to their mission has not been made by leadership whose inattentiveness or nonreceptivity cascades downwards into the culture. In recent years, DEI has emerged as a distinctive field in governance and public policy that provides a key set of performance measures for economic and social progress. While originally separate from environmental sustainability, they now share common values to applying human capital towards resolving society’s most vexing inter-generational challenges, including access to health care, educational opportunities, and protection from toxic exposures and climate change. Evaluating DEI practices and performance Author Pamela Newkirk, in her comprehensive analysis “Diversity, Inc.,” has identified a core set of best practices within and beyond the workplace. They include: expanding recruitment through international outreach; identifying and removing hiring and promotion barriers; strengthening professional development opportunities; providing fair and equitable compensation; building an inclusive climate and culture; and applying business practices and accountability. Many companies already have grasped the significance of integrating DEI within their business strategies, governance, employee relations, operations, customer relations and engagement with external stakeholders. The range of their programs and initiatives vary considerably, a reflection of their market sectors but also of variable leadership commitments and inconsistent performance metrics. Leaders (as measured by Forbes and other surveys) currently include BlackRock, Duke University, HP, L’Oreal, Novartis, SAP and a variety of banking and healthcare companies. Even more striking than examples of corporate DEI leadership is information from lagging and failing companies and business sectors. The Wall Street Journal reviewed more than 160 annual reports filed by S&P companies for 2020. Only a third provided diversity disclosures. More specifically, GE reported that approximately 76 percent of its U.S. workforce was white as was 81 percent of its leadership. PwC declared that 60 percent of its employees were white. Sectors that are particular DEI laggards include academia, environmental organizations, fashion, journalism, museums, professional football and technology companies. Why has so little progress been achieved despite decades of implementing civil rights legislation, philanthropic activities, and more than $20 billion spent each year on DEI programs, conferences, consultants, surveys and training sessions? For many organizations, a direct DEI connection to their mission has not been made by leadership whose inattentiveness or nonreceptivity cascades downwards into the culture. Workforce composition may be insufficiently diverse to respond to DEI dynamics, thus limiting bottom-up pressures upon management (in contrast to much stronger employee engagement in environmental sustainability). Across many institutions, the motivation for maintaining even modest DEI activities stems from a desire to avoid legal risk from potential discrimination cases, or to communicate that “we care” about the issue. Beyond the issue of leaders and laggards remains the question of whether DEI, as presently designed and implemented, significantly advances racial and social justice. Dennis Kennedy, founder and CEO of the National Diversity Council, argues that the current focus of many DEI initiatives is unlikely to yield comprehensive commitments to social justice. His argument is that: DEI as presently constituted does not sufficiently explore the roots and explanations of systemic and institutional racism; bias training, diversity consulting and other initiatives were purposely implemented to avoid legal risk and public scrutiny and not to achieve social change; and DEI was introduced within public, private and non-profit institutions that provided limited authority, resources and power to effectuate change. Expanding the boundaries Through the political process, the marketplace and social dynamics, several factors have converged to motivate greater awareness and scope of DEI activities going forward. They include activities of: Government. At the national level, the Biden administration has expanded the scope of DEI initiatives: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on February 24 that it will review public companies’ disclosure requirements on race and gender diversity and strengthen guidance on boardroom diversity. The acting chair noted that the results of the SEC’s voluntary program for companies to submit diversity self-assessments were “disappointing.” This follows an August 2020 SEC mandate that requires companies to begin disclosing information about their “human capital resources” that includes employee turnover rates and training programs. Companies already privately report diversity data to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are under increasing pressure to make such information public. The White House has announced that disadvantaged communities will receive 40 percent of overall benefits from public investments in clean energy and infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking added funding for environmental justice initiatives to reduce the high exposure to unsafe drinking water supplies, toxic air pollution and hazardous waste from industrial facilities to low income communities and indigenous peoples. Investor community. Some trading houses and institutional investors are advocating that companies provide better information on workforce diversity, and they’re beginning to include such data in their assessments and rankings. Prominent examples include: On December 1, Nasdaq filed a proposal with the SEC to implement new rules that would require all listed companies to publicly disclose consistent, transparent data that measure board gender and racial diversity. It would require companies to have two diverse directors (including a female or one who self-identifies as LGBTQ+), or explain why this rule is not attainable. On December 20, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, announced that, beginning in 2021, it will seek expanded ethnic and gender diversity data for company boards and workforces. BlackRock stated that it will vote against company directors that fail to adequately respond to this expectation. State Street Global Advisors and Goldman Sachs also announced diversity measures for their clients. Talent recruitment and retention. Millennials and Generation Z employees and job seekers are increasingly utilizing Glassdoor (a leading social media platform about jobs and companies) and LinkedIn to evaluate current and prospective employers on their DEI performance. In September 2020, a Glassdoor survey reported that 76 percent of employees and those looking for jobs said a diverse workforce was important to their evaluation of companies and employment offers. Nearly half of Black and Hispanic workers and job seekers said they had quit a company after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at the work place. The bigger questions By 2045, white Americans are projected to comprise less than 50 percent of the population, and the labor force will become more diverse and older than at any other time in the nation’s history. These anticipated facts alone have intensified the “fear of losing advantage” for an already existing movement of hard core white nationalists and others sympathetic to their cause. In its present form, DEI represents a set of modest efforts for legal and institutional reforms but nothing close to a mass movement capable of resolving the widening crevices of American society and politics. Some major unresolved challenges for DEI proponents and all citizens and civil society institutions include: Will leaders across the spectrum of American institutions collaborate with the commitment, urgency and scale necessary to preserve the American democratic experiment in the coming decades? Do companies operating in America believe that a dysfunctional democracy and growing societal disharmony can provide clear and consistent rules necessary for their economic success? Can they become engines of egalitarianism and more equitable social mobility rather than of inequality? xCan public policy develop remedies to systemic racism that have historically impeded access to educational opportunity, environmental protection, health care, unbiased law enforcement, living wages and resource allocations for lower-income populations? Can white Americans be reassured that their constitutional freedoms will be preserved even as their relative size and influence diminishes in a growing multiracial, multigender society? Absent an ability to act with confidence and sustained urgency to achieve demonstrable progress in the next few decades, America will become increasingly bewildered about its own purpose and values. It will begin to hear, once again, the “fire bell in the night” that awakened and terrorized Thomas Jefferson early in the 19th century as he feared for the preservation of the Union. Pull Quote For many organizations, a direct DEI connection to their mission has not been made by leadership whose inattentiveness or nonreceptivity cascades downwards into the culture. Topics Leadership Diversity and Inclusion Featured Column Values Proposition Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Diversity, equity and inclusion: Incremental reform or systemic change?

Your customers say there is a climate emergency and want you to act

March 23, 2021 by  
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Your customers say there is a climate emergency and want you to act Diane Osgood Tue, 03/23/2021 – 01:00 The largest opinion poll on climate change found two-thirds of people around the world believe we are in a “global emergency.” Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between what people believe and what they do. As explored in this series of blogs, the intention-action gap creates an opportunity for brands and sustainability professionals to act. Here are some insights from the UN Development Program (UNDP) poll of 1.2 million people in 50 countries, representing more than half of the world’s population. The survey was conducted between October and December. (See graph below.) Strikingly, the study found that in every country surveyed, most people are very concerned about climate change. The U.K. and Italy came in at the top with 81 percent, the U.S. and Russia in the middle with 65 percent. Only one country scored below 55 percent: Moldova, with 50 percent. The intention-action gap gives rise to the opportunity for brands to step up and help their customers do better. The key finding is that the belief we’re in a climate emergency holds true across all countries: during the pandemic, across generations globally, and most strongly for individuals with post-secondary education. The poll results show that a generational divide exists, but it isn’t large. Younger people showed the greatest concern, with 69 percent of those aged 14 to 18 saying there is a climate emergency, while 58 percent of those over 60 agreed. A person’s level of education is the single most profound socio-demographic driver of belief in the climate emergency and need for climate action. Young or old, if your target market has post-secondary education, the majority seek climate action. I compared the UNDP findings to those of a just-released study in the U.S. by Brands for Good and the Harris Poll . While the two studies have different objectives, comparing the results provides useful insights. The UNDP study seeks public opinion on climate change and policy solutions. The study asked about specific potential government policies, not about what individuals do in their day-to-day lives. The Brands for Good–Harris Poll survey seeks to understand consumer intentions and actions towards sustainable lifestyles. It looks at nine indicators for sustainable living. It asked respondents specifically about the frequency of actions individuals take, rather than the level of their concern. Looking at the two survey results, the first thing that is obvious is that actions lag concern. UNDP found that 65 percent of Americans say we’re in a climate crisis, yet Brands for Good/Harris Poll found only 29 percent to 45 percent, depending on age range, saying they always or often try to behave in ways that protect the planet, its people and its resources. Clearly this large concern-action gap needs to be closed. How? By increasing the likelihood of citizens taking regular actions for a more sustainable, climate-friendly lifestyle. The comparison of the two polls shows that education is a key variable. UNDP found the respondent’s level of education to be the most profound driver of public opinion on climate change. In the U.S., the UNDP study found that 66 percent of people with post-high school education think we’re in a climate crisis. Brands for Good/Harris Poll determined that 42 percent of respondents with a four-year college degree will act more frequently in ways that “protect the planet, its people and its resources.” This compares with 34 percent of respondents who have a high school degree or less. The two studies also compared age ranges. Brands for Good/Harris Poll found the most responsive age for taking action is 25 to 44, whereas UNDP found their younger peers are slightly more concerned. Mind the gap The two studies confirm that citizens around the world share a strong interest in addressing climate change. But at least in the U.S., there is a major disconnect between concern and action. Looking at the U.S. data, UNDP found 65 percent of Americans saying they are very concerned about climate change, yet Brands for Good and Harris Poll found only 34 percent to 45 percent of most age groups regularly take action. Furthermore, Brands for Good and Harris Poll found gaps between respondents’ intentions and actions across all nine indicators. This means that an average of 20 percent to 30 percent of Americans are concerned we’re in a climate crisis but not actively addressing climate change and sustainability concerns in their daily lives. This supports results from earlier survey work we’ve undertaken and covered in this blog series. This gap gives rise to the opportunity for brands to step up and help their customers do better. Here are three examples of how brands help close the action gap. 1. Design low-carbon products and communicate clearly about what actions your brand is taking. Sneakers are a good example, with many brands making low-carbon shoes. For example, Ecoalf , Spain’s first B-Corp fashion brand, proudly uses recycled plastic and nylon in almost all of its designs and tells the customer exactly what goes into each product. Ecoalf reminds the wearer with a subtle stamp on the shoes and T-shirts, “Because There Is No Planet B.” At a slightly larger scale, Nike invites customers to follow its journey, step by step, towards net-zero emissions. Nike brings home the message by eloquently linking sports and climate change , enabling its customers to see themselves in the climate change equation. Evocative, smart, effective. 2. Help your customers use your products and services in the most energy-efficient, material-minimizing way as possible. Often, the largest part of a product’s carbon footprint occurs post-sale. It’s how customers use the product that matters. This is not a new approach. For example, 19 years ago Levi’s launched its “Care Tag for Our Planet” campaign, which included changing the care instructions to recommend cold wash, promote line drying and donate garments when they are no longer needed. The Care Tag saved unimaginable amounts of energy to heat water. Other clothing brands followed Levi’s lead. 3. Show your customers the carbon footprint of the product. With this information, customers can make better decisions. For example, at the retail level COOP DK, the Danish cooperative grocery chain, provides customers with carbon estimates for their purchase as a way to help nudge better decisions. COOP DK is no small fry in Denmark — it represents a third of the nation’s grocery market. At the product level, forerunner Oatly applies a carbon label as part of its brand positioning . Leon Restaurants announced a carbon-neutral veggie burger. They’ll soon be joined by Unilever, which committed to carbon labeling all 70,000 of its products. Carbon footprint labels are relatively new, and too few products carry such footprint information to enable apples-to-apples comparisons. It is too soon to know how much disclosing product-level information will affect consumer decision-making. I expect more brands will embrace product carbon labeling. I look forward to testing the effectiveness of this disclosure in changing consumer behaviors. What can your brand do? Join me in the conversation, in the comments below or at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote The intention-action gap gives rise to the opportunity for brands to step up and help their customers do better. Topics Consumer Trends Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming?

November 13, 2020 by  
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Livestock emit about 14.5% of all greenhouse gases , and now their gassy ways are coming back to haunt them. Dairy cattle are increasingly suffering from debilitating heat stress due to global warming. While vegan activists might suggest this would be a good time to lessen our dependence on animal products, scientists have another solution — use gene editing and cloning to produce a heat-resistant race of super calves. Heat-stressed cows eat less, produce less milk and find it hard to conceive. Sometimes, they can even die because of the heat. Heat stress costs the U.S. dairy industry alone at least $900 million a year. On many small farms in the developing world, families don’t have cows to spare. Related: Impossible Foods is testing revolutionary plant-based milk “ Rising temperatures and predicted longer and more intense periods of warm weather can only mean that the problems with heat stress and fertility will increase,” Goetz Laible, PhD, an animal scientist at New Zealand’s AgResearch, told Future Human . Because darker colors absorb more light and heat, Laible and a group of other scientists used genetic engineering to lighten the coats of Holstein-Friesian cattle. These are the iconic white cows with big black spots. The scientists used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter a pigmentation gene in cattle embryos. Then, they cloned the embryos and implanted them in 22 normal cows. Only two cows managed to carry their super calves to term. Unfortunately, one died almost immediately and the other lived to be only four weeks old. Laible attributed the deaths to common complications of cloning rather than to the gene editing. Acceligen, a Minnesota-based company, is experimenting with gene editing to give cows a “slick” trait. This is a genetic variant for a sleek, short coat which cools down cows in subtropical heat. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has helped fund this work, hoping to someday introduce these cows to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists are aware of the possibility of editing mistakes and what they call “off-target” effects of CRISPR. But one wonders exactly how much they’ve learned from the past, as documented in popular entertainment. Film classics like Them!, Night of the Lepus and The Killer Shrews all clearly demonstrate the potentially deadly off-target effects of science on ants, rabbits and shrews, respectively. While we wait for the technology to be perfected, it’s not a bad idea to stock up on oat milk . Via Future Human Image via Michael Pujals

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Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming?

The Night Ministry building is a stunning showcase of adaptive reuse

October 27, 2020 by  
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The new headquarters for Chicago’s The Night Ministry is a three-story adaptive reuse project that truly showcases what this building stands for: refuge and recovery. The design makes the most of an existing structure to become a welcoming center for the community. The Night Ministry provides housing, healthcare and help to those in the Chicago area who need it. According to the organization’s website, 86,000 people in Chicago experience homelessness every year. This organization wants to help the community, so it makes sense that the nonprofit should be housed in a building that adds to the community in itself. Related: Community First! provides affordable, permanent micro-housing Chicago-based firm Wheeler Kearns Architects designed the headquarters, which is located in the Mural Building in the Bucktown neighborhood. An old loading dock was converted into an accessible entrance, while the first floor of the building has become The Crib, an overnight shelter for young adults. This floor includes a sleeping room, administration offices, a serving kitchen, meeting rooms and a multipurpose space. The mural in the multipurpose area is actually carried through the entire building, continuing up to the next two floors. The overall design is meant to relieve stress. The glass doors and plentiful windows allow light to enter the space, creating a feeling of openness while also reducing reliance on artificial lighting during the daytime. Landscaping and trees create a natural screen to block the highway and create a peaceful atmosphere. “The Night Ministry is thrilled with its new space in Bucktown. The ability to provide guests at The Crib with modern, larger facilities has already shown several benefits, such as the guests sleeping better at night,” said Paul W. Hamann, president and CEO of The Night Ministry. “We worked with Wheeler Kearns Architects to develop adequate storage space, so that youth don’t need to worry about the security of their belongings at night. The upstairs space for administrative and program leadership functions allows us to operate more efficiently with room to grow. We couldn’t be happier.” The Night Ministry seeks to lift the community up through not just services but also beautiful design. This is adaptive reuse at its best. The new Night Ministry headquarters sets an example for others to follow. + Wheeler Kearns Architects Photography by Kendall McCaughterty and Hall + Merrick Photographers via Wheeler Kearns Architects

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The Night Ministry building is a stunning showcase of adaptive reuse

Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation

September 25, 2020 by  
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Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation Heather Clancy Fri, 09/25/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (7:40). Global net-zero commitments double in less than a year Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 Anthology “All We Can Save” passes the mic to female climate leaders Features Facebook faces up to climate misinformation (18:20)   The social media company’s CSO, Ed Palmieri, briefs us on the Climate Science Information Center, a separate, dedicated space on Facebook that connects its community with factual resources from the world’s leading climate organizations and actionable steps people can take in their everyday lives to combat climate change. Fifth Wall’s mission in ‘climate-friendly’ real estate (28:45) Fifth Wall is the largest venture capital firm focused on technologies and innovations related to real estate. We chat with the Brendan Wallace, co-founder and managing partner, about the company’s new fund dedicated to helping the industry reduce the carbon impact of buildings and its recent decisions to become a Certifed B Corporation. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “Late Night Tales” and “Introducing the Pre-roll” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and WestRock Resources galore A dilemma . How do we develop sustainable packaging solutions that protect food safety and availability everywhere, while living up to critical environmental and climate commitments? Join the discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 29. Clean air in California? It’s easier than you think.  Hear from the California Air Resources Board, the city of Oakland and Neste in this session at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 1. Partnerships for packaging . How working together advances low-cost, circular solutions. Register for the webcast at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.  Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy  (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps  (Friday).  You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Corporate Strategy Facebook Venture Capital Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 41:31 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation

More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

September 25, 2020 by  
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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat Jim Giles Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:30 Editor’s note: Last week’s Foodstuff discussion on the impact of regenerative grazing on emissions from meat production prompted a flurry of comments from the GreenBiz community. This essay advances the dialogue. Let’s get back to the beef brouhaha I wrote about last week. I’d argued that regenerative grazing could cut emissions from beef production , helping reduce the outsized contribution cattle make to food’s carbon footprint. This suggestion produced more responses than anything I’ve written in the roughly six months since the Food Weekly newsletter launched. The future of meat is a critical issue, so I thought I’d summarize some of the reaction. First up, a shocking revelation: There’s no truth in advertising. I’d written about a new beef company called Wholesome Meats, which claims to sell the “only beef that heals the planet.” Hundreds of ranchers actually already are using regenerative methods, pointed out Peter Byck of Arizona State University, who is leading a major study into the impact of these methods. This week, in fact, some of the biggest names in food announced a major regenerative initiative: Walmart, McDonald’s, Cargill and the World Wildlife Fund said they will invest $6 million in scaling up sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres of grassland across the Northern Great Plains . Two members of that team also are moving to cut emissions from conventional beef production. We tend to blame cows’ methane-filled burps for these gases, but around a quarter of livestock emissions come from fertilizer used to grow animal feed . When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Farmers growing corn and other grains can cut those emissions by planting cover crops and using more diverse crop rotations — two techniques that McDonald’s and Cargill will roll out on 100,000 acres in Nebraska as part of an $8.5 million project. These and other emissions-reduction projects are part of Cargill’s goal to cut emissions from every pound of beef in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds great, right? You can imagine a future in which some beef, probably priced at a premium, comes with a carbon-negative label. Perhaps most beef isn’t so climate-friendly, but thanks to regenerative agriculture and other emissions-lowering methods, the burgers and steaks we love — on average, Americans eat the equivalent of more than four quarter-pounders every week — no longer account for such an egregious share of emissions. Well, yes and no. That future is plausible and would be a more sustainable one, but pursuing it may rule out a game-changing alternative. In the United States, around two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion acres of land used for agriculture is devoted to animal grazing . Two-thirds. That’s an extraordinary amount of land. And that doesn’t include the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed those animals. When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. The alternative here is to eat less meat and then, on the land that frees up, restore native ecosystems, such as forests, which draw down carbon. This week, Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, pointed me to a recent paper in Nature Sustainability that quantified the impact of such a shift . The potential is staggering: Switching to a low-meat, low-dairy diet and restoring land could remove more than 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. That’s around a decade of global fossil-fuel emissions. In some regions, regenerative grazing techniques, which mimic an ancient symbiosis between animals and land, might be part of that restorative process. So maybe the trade-off isn’t as stark as it seems. But demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon, where the trade-off is indeed clear: We’re destroying the lungs of the planet to sustain our beef habit. Once you factor in land use, eating less animal protein and restoring ecosystems looks to be an essential part of the challenge of feeding a growing global population while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of our food systems. That doesn’t mean everyone goes vegan, but it does mean we should cut back on meat and dairy. Pull Quote When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative 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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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

August 18, 2020 by  
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The Terluna off-grid adobe dome home is located in a remote part of the Texas desert near Big Bend National Park, inside one of the country’s few remaining dark sky ordinance territories. Along with the opportunity to completely cut yourself off from the modern world, the dome’s setting offers incredible views of the night sky along with unobstructed access to the desert horizon. The dome is an earthen structure, built with an adobe barrier, that provides shelter from the elements. In this part of the state, those elements can range from extreme heat and wind to cold and rain. All power comes directly from an installed solar energy system, with just enough energy to also power phones, laptops and lights. Related: Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle Terluna is isolated, but because the entrance to Big Bend National Park is just a 25-minute drive away, it is easily accessible for those who want to do some exploring. For history buffs, the historic Terlingua Ghost Town can be found about 25 minutes away as well. Wi-Fi is also available in the dome for those who aren’t quite ready to go fully off the grid just yet. Fans of HGTV’s “Mighty Tiny Houses” may recognize the Terluna, as it has been featured on the show in the past. The dome home includes a kitchen with a two-burner propane stove, an oven and a refrigerator. The kitchen sinks get water from a small rain collection tank; guests are recommended to bring their own drinking water. There is space for two people to sleep comfortably, and linens, pillows and blankets are included. Additional space on the pallet couch allows for a third guest. A no-flush, composting toilet can be found in a separate, private outhouse next to the main structure, and guests will have to utilize a nearby coin shower if they want to wash up. The off-grid nature of this space means that occupants will have to sacrifice AC, but the Airbnb stay does have a fan and plenty of windows. + Airbnb Images via Airbnb

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Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

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

Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens

May 11, 2020 by  
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We’ve already seen interspecies transmission of COVID-19 happen in the Bronx , where an asymptomatic zookeeper infected five tigers and four lions. Now, as the infamous Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park reopens, will human visitors expose innocent tiger cubs to coronavirus ? Droves of people descended upon Oklahoma’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, made famous by the Netflix series ‘Tiger King’, when it reopened May 2. People are drawn by the hard-to-resist attraction of petting adorable tiger cubs, despite the cautions by wildlife experts. Related: ‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in US National Geographic reported on the first day the park resumed operations, noting the lack of pandemic precautions. The cubs worked long shifts and were expected to look cute for visitors who sometimes waited 4 hours to pet them. With hundreds of people feeding and petting tigers, the felines could contract the virus . It could also easily spread among the throngs of humans yearning to interact with tigers. Oklahoma’s pandemic restrictions had closed the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park for about a month. Many Netflix viewers had eagerly awaited its reopening. The true crime documentary miniseries ‘Tiger King’ focused on the life of former park owner Joe Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, who is now serving 22 years in prison for his crimes against humans and tigers. Maldonado-Passage’s former partner, Jeff Lowe, now owns the animal park. To keep a constant supply of darling cubs, some private facilities “speed breed” their tigers, according to National Geographic. Newborn cubs are quickly removed from their mother so that she goes into heat and breeds again. Cub-petting facilities constantly need little tigers that are in the sweet spot of 8 to 12 weeks old. Any bigger and they’ll be dangerous enough to hurt visitors. Tigers may then be bred, exhibited or possibly killed. At press time, the Bronx Zoo tigers and lions that tested positive for coronavirus are all recovering well. There have also been a few isolated cases of pet cats and dogs with the novel coronavirus. Via National Geographic Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens

Glowing Wishing Pavilion is made with 5,000 recycled plastic bricks

April 13, 2020 by  
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To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival of 2019, Hong Kong-based studio Daydreamers Design crafted a glowing lantern-inspired pavilion that also raises awareness of environmental issues. Dubbed the Wishing Pavilion, the temporary installation was constructed from 5,000 bricks made of recycled high-density polyethylene, the same type of plastic commonly used in water bottles. Manufactured in seven colors, the plastic bricks created a gradient evocative of a flame, an effect enhanced by the use of sound effects, music and LED lights at night. Commissioned by the Government of Hong Kong, the Wishing Pavilion served as the anchor pavilion for the “Mid-Autumn Lantern Displays 2019” at the Victoria Park Soccer Pitch No. 1, Causeway Bay from September 13 to September 27, 2019. Daydreamers Design created the pavilion as an evolution of its 2019 “Rising Moon” project, which also called attention to environmental issues. The pavilion’s 5,000 recycled plastic bricks are arranged to form a rounded, lantern-like structure stretching 18 meters in diameter and 6 meters tall, with no foundation work needed. The modular design allowed the designers to swiftly assemble the pavilion in just 12 days.  Related: 30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion The pavilion’s lantern-like shape references two Mid-Autumn Festival traditions: releasing candle-lit lanterns with people’s wishes written on the sides into the night sky and burning tall, purpose-built structures for good luck and good harvests. Unlike these practices, Daydreamers Design’s eco-friendly pavilion is fire-free. The recycled plastic bricks were stacked to create a flame-like gradient ranging from yellow to red. The stacks also form a double-helix layout centered on a “burning lantern” sculpture. The pavilion opens up with a 7.5-meter circular skylight to frame the full harvest moon. “Mid-Autumn Festival, falling on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, is when the families reunite to celebrate autumn harvests, light up lanterns and admire the bright moon of the year,” the designers explained. “The rituals and celebration continued for 2000 years; the famous poem by Li Bai signifies the value and meaning of Mid-Autumn Festival. Wishing Pavilion intends to embrace the tradition, recall the harmonious union and raise awareness to today’s social challenge.” + Daydreamers Design Images via Daydreamers Design

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Glowing Wishing Pavilion is made with 5,000 recycled plastic bricks

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