Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, & Science News Collection

November 28, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, & Science News Collection

Earth911 Reader: Your Weekly Sustainability, Business, and Science News Summary

November 14, 2020 by  
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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

October 28, 2020 by  
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Norwegian company Zeabuz has announced that it will be launching a self-driving ferry next year. This zero-emission ferry was first developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The ferry is expected to carry 12 passengers and will operate like an elevator, with passengers able to call the ferry to their location by pressing a button. The launch of the first self-driving electric ferry in Norway just goes to show the strides the country is making in developing water transport . In 2015, Norway was the first country to launch the world’s first electric car and passenger ferry . Related: 100% electric passenger vehicle and cargo ferry could help decarbonize sea travel According to Narve Mjøs, the director of DNV GL — a company that advises the maritime industry and organizes the Green Shipping Program in Norway — the country is on the right track when it comes to pioneering new technologies in water transport. Mjøs said that the use of new boats, like the one being launched by Zeabuz, provides a greener alternative to road transport. Further, he said that the process of automation via self-driving helps cut down operation costs. The newly launched ferry will operate along the canal that connects the port and the city center of Trondheim. Passengers will have a 1-minute travel time, rather than the 15 minutes it typically takes to walk between the two locations. The ferry also has the capacity to transport passenger bicycles, and it is designed to charge while docked. Riding the ferry will be free of charge, at least in Trondheim. Many countries are turning back to water transport, which was a popular means of travel before the invention of cars. For instance, Bangkok intends to launch 30 new electric ferries and 5,000 electric water taxis come next year. In July 2020, Uber announced plans to launch boat taxis along the Thames River in London. If such plans are actualized, we are likely to see a future with fewer cars and more zero-emission boats. + Zeabuz Via CNN Images via Zeabuz

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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

Decoding the Disinformation Machine

October 21, 2020 by  
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Decoding the Disinformation Machine Suzanne Shelton Wed, 10/21/2020 – 01:30 The Saturday before President Donald Trump got COVID-19, I bought a desk at one of those warehouse furniture stores — one of the ones with the annoying jingle that gets stuck in your head despite your best efforts to the contrary. Buying the desk was my last bit of acceptance that working from home was officially a long-haul thing and the old farm table I’d been using wasn’t really ergonomically designed for working on a laptop all day long. While the sales guy was writing up my ticket he complained about his mask, which was actually around his neck, and said, “Thankfully, this will all be over in November.” As someone who spends the bulk of her time trying to understand what’s going on in people’s heads in order to best craft sustainability stories that they’ll be open to hearing, I took the bait. “What’s magical about November?” I said. “The election,” he replied. So I said, “You think a U.S. election is going to change a global pandemic?” With absolute confidence, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Yep.” Now, let’s put judgment aside, and let’s also put aside musings around how his view might have changed once he heard Trump had COVID. What I’m interested in is that a person of seemingly reasonable intelligence totally bought the idea that the pandemic was some kind of political play — a ploy by the Democrats to get Trump out of office, perhaps. How were the messages and stories constructed and served up to him that caused him to believe that? And what can we in the sustainability realm learn from that? How can we decode that approach so we can take a similar angle in convincing people to take action on climate change and plastic waste? I posed these questions to my firm’s leadership team, and I think they were concerned I’d gone to the dark side. Their POV was that the messages that guy received were all lies and conspiracy theories and we can’t adopt anything from that for sustainability communications. I wholeheartedly agree — I am not looking for how we can lie our way into getting people to take action on solving our massive environmental and social challenges. But what’s happening in the Disinformation Machine is clearly effective, and I wonder what we can learn from it that we can use. I’m putting this out there because I’m genuinely interested in thoughts on this one. Here are the two I have thus far: Ultimately, we all need to remember that ‘saving the planet’ isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. 1. We need to make our messaging personal. To me, one thing the Disinformation Machine does so well is to couch stories/theories in very personal terms, making whatever the thing is — the left, the right, the pandemic, health care, climate legislation — a personal affront that must be dealt with. In the sustainability arena we need to do a better job of personalizing the impacts of climate change and plastic waste — what does it mean to you and your family? How will climate change, deforestation and plastics in the ocean hurt your family, and how will the solutions benefit your family? For corporate storytelling, we also should personalize it — how will a company’s specific actions on climate make your life infinitely better? Ultimately, we all need to remember that “saving the planet” isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. The more we connect our messaging to what’s in it for people, the more effective we’ll be. 2. We need to stop weaponizing the word “science.” For years, environmentalists have pointed to “the science” to make their point about the existence and perils of climate change. Indeed, the science is clear. But I’m afraid that line of messaging has come off as “We are smart enough to understand the science and you disbelievers are not.” That, of course, puts people on opposite sides and draws an even bigger chasm to cross in getting everybody working together to solve the problem. (It’s potentially also very threatening and insulting to people of deep religious faith, evoking old arguments of evolution vs. creation.) Trump turned the weaponizing of the word up a notch when pressed by California legislators about the role of climate change in exacerbating wildfires, saying, “Science doesn’t know.” In effect, he flipped the argument to say, “You science people are the dumb ones … the rest of us know what’s really going on here.” Bottom line, trying to convince people that climate change is real because science says so, even though that’s true, is not an effective messaging strategy. In our May polling, we asked, “How much trust, in general, do you have in the following,” and listed 16 information sources. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Congress was in next-to-last place, very slightly ahead of strangers. Scientists, though, were the third-most-trusted source, just behind friends and family. So, my recommendation is that you let a scientist deliver your message, but don’t use phrases like “the science says” or “we believe in science.” I get it that that’s a tall order. I get completely exasperated and gobsmacked by people who refuse to believe what science keeps telling us. I’m just here to tell you it’s not a winning messaging strategy. We can and should find other words. Those are my two initial insights into decoding the Disinformation Machine. I’d love your input. I think this could make a great “how to” guide one day if we can figure out how to apply the lessons with integrity. Pull Quote Ultimately, we all need to remember that ‘saving the planet’ isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. Topics Marketing & Communication Climate Change Public Opinion Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably 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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Decoding the Disinformation Machine

Earth911 Reader: Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News

October 17, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Reader: Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News

Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

October 13, 2020 by  
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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change? Joel Makower Tue, 10/13/2020 – 01:40 When it comes to the climate crisis, it’s not just what you make and sell, it’s what you do, and for whom you do it. That’s the message from several recent reports focusing on the role of service-sector companies in addressing — positively or negatively — climate change. The mere existence of these documents, and the campaigns behind some of them, represent another broadening of the conversation, a clarion call for nontraditional business players to lead, or at least not hinder, efforts to address the climate crisis. But, hopefully, lead. Exhibit A: law firms. According to a new report from Law Students for Climate Accountability, most of the top 100 law firms in the United States “provide far more support to clients driving the climate crisis than clients addressing it.” Its research focuses on the work of Vault Law 100 firms, “the most prestigious law firms based on the assessments of lawyers at peer firms.” According to the group’s scorecard , Vault 100 firms: litigated 286 cases exacerbating climate change (versus three cases mitigating it) supported $1.316 trillion in transactions for the fossil fuel industry received $37 million in compensation for fossil fuel industry lobbying The study analyzed litigation, transactional and lobbying work conducted from 2015 to 2019. Each firm received an overall letter grade reflecting its contribution to the climate problem based on the data in these three categories. Four firms receive an A while 26 received an F. Even among those in the middle, the group found that “some firms contribute far more to the climate crisis than others.” The report is intended to provide law students and young lawyers “with a resource when deciding on their current and future employment,” it said, adding: We cannot ignore the role of law firms in exacerbating the climate crisis, and this report is another step in raising consciousness of how our employment choices shape the world. We, the next generation of lawyers, can choose what firms to work for and where to spend our careers. We can ask law firms how they plan to address their role in the crisis and hold them accountable to do so. Of course, for the firms themselves, it’s mostly about following the money. After all, the $41 million ExxonMobil spent on climate lobbying in 2019 ( according to InfluenceMap ) exceeds the entire $37 million annual operating budget ( 2019 ) of Greenpeace USA. “Climate lobbying” in the report is defined as efforts “to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.” Still, as the group notes, “These firms could use their extraordinary skills to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future, but too many are instead lending their services to the companies driving the climate crisis. Law firms cannot maintain reputations as socially responsible actors if they continue to support the destructive fossil-fuel industry.” It will be interesting to see whether shining a bright light on the nation’s top firms — which generally avoid scrutiny, let alone comparisons with one another — will encourage them to forgo revenue in favor of the greater good. Will job-seeking law students truly shun firms seen as bad actors? And if firms dropped oil, coal and gas companies as clients, would it move the fossil fuel industry even one iota? Suffice to say, the jury is out. Lawyers aren’t the only service-sector firms targeted for their climate ties. A report coming out later this week from the Australia-based Sunrise Project “will reveal that the top 10 U.S. health insurers are all invested in the fossil fuel industry” and will call on insurers to divest from these companies, calling them “the greatest threat to human health.” On a more proactive note , the CFA Institute, a trade group that measures and certifies financial analysts, recently released ” Climate Change Analysis in the Investment Process ,” a report that aims to improve the industry’s understanding on how climate risk can be applied to financial analysis. The report, written by Matt Orsagh, director of capital markets policy at the institute, explains the economic implications of climate change and covers such topics as a price on carbon and the growing carbon markets, increased transparency and disclosure of climate metrics, and how analysts should engage with companies on the physical and transition risks of climate change. And then there are banks and other financial institutions , which have long been the focus of climate activists. That, too, is ramping up. Earlier this month, the Science Based Targets initiative released a framework and validation service for financial institutions “against the backdrop of growing awareness of the material risks posed by climate change.” Fifty-five financial institutions including Bank Sarasin, Amalgamated Bank and Standard Chartered are backing the new certification and already have committed to setting science-based targets. For the first time, those organizations have the opportunity to verify their emissions reduction plans against the goals of the Paris Agreement. I’m fairly certain that campaigns are already ramping up to get the world’s largest financial institutions on board. Follow the money, indeed. Topics Corporate Strategy Policy & Politics Featured Column Two Steps Forward 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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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

October 13, 2020 by  
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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change? Joel Makower Tue, 10/13/2020 – 01:40 When it comes to the climate crisis, it’s not just what you make and sell, it’s what you do, and for whom you do it. That’s the message from several recent reports focusing on the role of service-sector companies in addressing — positively or negatively — climate change. The mere existence of these documents, and the campaigns behind some of them, represent another broadening of the conversation, a clarion call for nontraditional business players to lead, or at least not hinder, efforts to address the climate crisis. But, hopefully, lead. Exhibit A: law firms. According to a new report from Law Students for Climate Accountability, most of the top 100 law firms in the United States “provide far more support to clients driving the climate crisis than clients addressing it.” Its research focuses on the work of Vault Law 100 firms, “the most prestigious law firms based on the assessments of lawyers at peer firms.” According to the group’s scorecard , Vault 100 firms: litigated 286 cases exacerbating climate change (versus three cases mitigating it) supported $1.316 trillion in transactions for the fossil fuel industry received $37 million in compensation for fossil fuel industry lobbying The study analyzed litigation, transactional and lobbying work conducted from 2015 to 2019. Each firm received an overall letter grade reflecting its contribution to the climate problem based on the data in these three categories. Four firms receive an A while 26 received an F. Even among those in the middle, the group found that “some firms contribute far more to the climate crisis than others.” The report is intended to provide law students and young lawyers “with a resource when deciding on their current and future employment,” it said, adding: We cannot ignore the role of law firms in exacerbating the climate crisis, and this report is another step in raising consciousness of how our employment choices shape the world. We, the next generation of lawyers, can choose what firms to work for and where to spend our careers. We can ask law firms how they plan to address their role in the crisis and hold them accountable to do so. Of course, for the firms themselves, it’s mostly about following the money. After all, the $41 million ExxonMobil spent on climate lobbying in 2019 ( according to InfluenceMap ) exceeds the entire $37 million annual operating budget ( 2019 ) of Greenpeace USA. “Climate lobbying” in the report is defined as efforts “to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.” Still, as the group notes, “These firms could use their extraordinary skills to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future, but too many are instead lending their services to the companies driving the climate crisis. Law firms cannot maintain reputations as socially responsible actors if they continue to support the destructive fossil-fuel industry.” It will be interesting to see whether shining a bright light on the nation’s top firms — which generally avoid scrutiny, let alone comparisons with one another — will encourage them to forgo revenue in favor of the greater good. Will job-seeking law students truly shun firms seen as bad actors? And if firms dropped oil, coal and gas companies as clients, would it move the fossil fuel industry even one iota? Suffice to say, the jury is out. Lawyers aren’t the only service-sector firms targeted for their climate ties. A report coming out later this week from the Australia-based Sunrise Project “will reveal that the top 10 U.S. health insurers are all invested in the fossil fuel industry” and will call on insurers to divest from these companies, calling them “the greatest threat to human health.” On a more proactive note , the CFA Institute, a trade group that measures and certifies financial analysts, recently released ” Climate Change Analysis in the Investment Process ,” a report that aims to improve the industry’s understanding on how climate risk can be applied to financial analysis. The report, written by Matt Orsagh, director of capital markets policy at the institute, explains the economic implications of climate change and covers such topics as a price on carbon and the growing carbon markets, increased transparency and disclosure of climate metrics, and how analysts should engage with companies on the physical and transition risks of climate change. And then there are banks and other financial institutions , which have long been the focus of climate activists. That, too, is ramping up. Earlier this month, the Science Based Targets initiative released a framework and validation service for financial institutions “against the backdrop of growing awareness of the material risks posed by climate change.” Fifty-five financial institutions including Bank Sarasin, Amalgamated Bank and Standard Chartered are backing the new certification and already have committed to setting science-based targets. For the first time, those organizations have the opportunity to verify their emissions reduction plans against the goals of the Paris Agreement. I’m fairly certain that campaigns are already ramping up to get the world’s largest financial institutions on board. Follow the money, indeed. Topics Corporate Strategy Policy & Politics Featured Column Two Steps Forward 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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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Recommended Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News

October 10, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Recommended Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News

Presidential debate gives 10 minutes to climate change

October 1, 2020 by  
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It seemed like the whole 90 minutes would be spent slinging insults about family members, interrupting and telling each other to shut up. But with 10 minutes to go of the first 2020 presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace said, “I’d like to talk about climate change .” The results were revealing. Whether or not you agree with Joe Biden’s plans for getting the U.S. out of its environmental mess, just about any viewer would have to admit that Biden has a plan. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump works hard to avoid the topic. Related: Biden vs Trump on environmental issues and climate change “I want crystal clean water and air, we now have the lowest carbon … if you look at our numbers now we are doing phenomenally,” Trump said during the debate, adding that people were very happy that he withdrew the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord immediately on taking office. When pushed, Trump admitted there might be something to climate change. He then repeatedly turned the conversation to California’s fires , blaming the state for lack of forest management. Wallace tried to steer Trump back to the topic. “But sir, if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan, which limited carbon emissions in power plants? Why have you relaxed fuel economy standards that are going to create more pollution from cars and trucks?” Trump again brushed off the question, this time talking about the safety of new cars. When Biden got his chance to speak, he gave a quick sketch of his $2 trillion green energy plan , which would include replacing federal cars with electrical vehicles and weathering millions of homes to cut heating and air conditioning needs. Trump repeatedly interrupted, insisting that Biden’s plan was synonymous with the much-maligned Green New Deal and saying it would cost $100 trillion. The 10-minute climate change debate was a surprise to viewers, as it wasn’t on the pre-released list of debate topics. The six planned topics were the economy, Supreme Court, coronavirus pandemic, race and violence in cities, election integrity and the two candidates’ past records. While climate change is relevant to people planning to continue living on Earth, it’s not the top issue in most voters’ minds. According to a Pew Research Center poll, 68% of Biden supporters cited climate change as “very important,” compared to 11% of Trump supporters. Overall, 42% of voters cited climate change as very important. The top three issues, according to the Pew poll, were the economy, healthcare and Supreme Court appointments. Via EcoWatch , HuffPost and Grist Image via Milkovi

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Presidential debate gives 10 minutes to climate change

UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

September 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations’ United in Science Report 2020 , global temperatures could exceed the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement in the next decade. Global temperatures have been on a steady rise since the 1800s due to the effects of industrialization. According to the report, global temperatures have already risen by 2°F (1.1°C) since the late 1800s. Of greater concern is the fact that the last five years have been hotter than previous years. Although the high temperatures experienced in the last five years could be temporary, there is a cause for alarm if global warming continues at the current rate. According to the UN, the world has about a 25% chance of experiencing a year of temperatures hot enough to push global temperatures past the 1.5°C limit in the next five years. The report, released by the UN World Meteorological Organization, reinstates the importance of the Paris Agreement . In 2015, world leaders set two warming limits, with 1.5°C being the most stringent. The limits were set to mark temperature changes where human survival will be more difficult. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year The report has come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing record-setting temperatures and destruction. A Labor Day weekend heatwave led to several wildfires in California and burned a record amount of land across the state. Death Valley also hit 130°F last month, marking the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Fires are also burning in the Amazon and the Arctic. “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods, and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations, and economies around the world,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his foreward. The United in Science report highlighted more disruptions that are likely to occur in the coming years as a result of burning fossil fuels . The world should expect increased polar ice melting and rising sea levels. The only hope is for countries to drastically cut down the use of fossil fuels. Guterres said, “The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions , with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.” + United in Science 2020 Via Huffington Post Image via Emilian Robert Vicol

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