Online farmers markets gain popularity during pandemic

June 5, 2020 by  
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Virtual farmers markets have been online for a few years now, but the COVID-19 pandemic is giving them a boost. Many consumers are happy to get fresh goods from local farmers without having to brave in-person stores or markets. Online farmers markets usually operate in a fairly small geographical area. The operators partner with local farms to market their wares online and deliver them to individuals. The consumer peruses a website packed with delicious fruits and vegetables, picking what they want from various producers, just like at a real farmers market. After paying online, the market ships or delivers the goods. This is a little like the convenience of a community supported agriculture subscription, but with a full choice of items from a variety of farmers. Related: Everything you need to know about online farmers markets In Southern California, online farmers market Market Box recently expanded its delivery area to Los Angeles. This virtual farmers market is based in El Cajon, a small city east of San Diego. The new venture involves 50 local vendors offering upward of 600 items. All are vegan and locally grown. When Jessica Davis and Amanda Zollinger Waterman heard that their local farmers markets were closing due to the pandemic, the vendors teamed up to found Market Box. “Finding vendors was the easy part — everyone was looking for sales outlets and we had relationships already built from doing farmers markets. What we did not plan was everything else. Just finding supplies, alone, was so difficult,” Davis and Zollinger Waterman told VegNews . “Our community helped us so much — we would not have been able to pull this off without friends volunteering, families flying in from out of town to help, vendors being insanely patient and kind to us, companies renting us refrigerated vans off their own fleet, and our customers that were so sweet, understanding, and encouraging, through every steep learning curve we experienced.” Other online farmers markets include OurHarvest in New York, NoCo Virtual Farmers Market in northern Colorado and Champaign County Ohio Virtual Farmers’ Market . During the pandemic, Crescent City Farmers Market is offering a weekly drive-through market in New Orleans. Via VegNews Image via Adobe Stock

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Online farmers markets gain popularity during pandemic

Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening?

May 18, 2020 by  
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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening? Joel Makower Mon, 05/18/2020 – 09:15 What happens when more than 300 business people descend, virtually, on Capitol Hill to advocate for climate action amid a pandemic and economic crisis? Logic would dictate that these well-intentioned lobbyists-for-a-day would be met with a resounding shrug. After all, with two of the most devastating events to hit the United States happening simultaneously, there doesn’t seem to be much room to talk about anything else. As with so many other things these days, logic is not always the best guide. That’s my takeaway from last week’s LEAD on Climate 2020 , organized by the nonprofit Ceres and supported by other sustainability-focused business groups. It was the second annual opportunity for companies to educate legislators and their staff on the need for congressional action on the climate crisis. Among the larger participating companies were Adobe, Capital One, Danone, Dow, eBay, General Mills, LafargeHolcim, Mars, Microsoft, NRG, Pepsico, Salesforce, Tiffany and Visa, along with hundreds of smaller firms . Last year’s LEAD (for Lawmaker Education and Advocacy Day) event brought 75 companies to Capitol Hill. This year’s garnered 333 companies, including more than 100 CEOs, to have video meetups with 88 congressional offices — 50 Democrats, 36 Republicans and 2 Independents — from both the House (51 meetings) and Senate (37 meetings). Some had as many as 70 companies in attendance. This year’s bigger turnout no doubt had to do in part with the ease of meeting from one’s sequestered location — no travel, no costs and a lot smaller carbon footprint — but also from the growing push to get companies off the sidelines on climate action advocacy, whether motivated by external pressure groups, ESG-minded investors, employee concerns or a company’s own board or C-suite. To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. Last year’s LEAD event focused specifically on carbon pricing; this year’s focus was broadened, Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres, the event’s organizer, told me last week. “We reframed it knowing that long-term solutions like carbon pricing are important, but that there were immediate opportunities that companies could speak to.” That, too, may have broadened its appeal. For Nestlé, the event was an opportunity “to have meaningful conversations with Congress on climate change and on our priorities,” said Meg Villareal, the company’s manager of policy and public affairs, in an interview for last week’s GreenBiz 350 podcast . “To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. I think the virtual platform created an opportunity for us to have very in-depth discussions about what company priorities are and how we want to see Congress engage on climate going into the future.” Among Nestlé’s interests, Villareal said, was scaling up renewable energy use in its operations. “We also want to develop agriculture initiatives for carbon storage and reforestation and biodiversity that help support our carbon initiatives. That was definitely a key piece of some of the conversations we had as well.” Her company is a founding member of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance , along with Mars, Danone and Unilever. “We put out a set of climate principles last May that have five principles as part of it, the first of which is creating a price on carbon.” Several congressional allies participated, first among them Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who has a strong record on climate advocacy. It appeared that his role in the event was primarily to cheer the companies on and give them insight into the Capitol Hill zeitgeist. Bank shot Whitehouse made it clear that while CEO pronouncements on their company’s climate commitments are good, they only go so far. “CEOs may say we support a carbon price,” he explained. “No, they don’t. I happen to know that because I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. And nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ You can’t underestimate the continued opposition and challenge that the fossil-fuel industry presents. They’re still really strong here and really powerful.” The senator cited the American Beverage Association as a case in point. “Coke and Pepsi both have terrific climate policies. They do all the stuff they should be doing. But they pretty much control the American Beverage Association because of their size. And the American Beverage Association has not lifted a finger, period” to support climate action, he said. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ Whitehouse advocated what he called a “bank shot” — perhaps an unintentional play on words — as a way to build pressure on companies through their investors. “We put pressure on Marathon Petroleum for the climate mischief that they have done — particularly the CAFE standards, the fuel efficiency standards mischief, that they’ve been string-pulling-on behind the scenes. They could care less when I call them out on that. But their four biggest shareholders are BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and JPMorgan. And all those entities care quite a lot when they’re funding climate misbehavior. And they get called out on it themselves. So, you can use the pressure that the financial community feels to defend itself now against these climate and economic crash warnings to bring pressure to bear on even very recalcitrant companies.” The human factor I had the opportunity to speak during the LEAD training day, the day before they “hit the Hill” for their member meetings. As part of that, I interviewed Leah Rubin Shen, energy and environment policy advisor to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who co-chairs the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana). I asked Shen, a trained electrochemist with research experience in energy storage technologies and green chemistry, for some insights into what it takes to change minds on Capitol Hill. “I’m a scientist,” she responded. “I think there are plenty of things that we could do tomorrow, or today even, that would make all of our systems much more robust and resilient, and set us on the right path. But politically, it’s just really difficult. As tempting as it is to just say, ‘Well, this is what experts say,’ or ‘This is what people say we should be doing’ — I wish that were enough; it’s not. It needs to be something that will resonate back home.” Storytelling is key, she noted. “Don’t discount the human element. Facts and figures are helpful — ‘This is how many jobs we have in your state,’ or ‘This is what our annual revenue was last year.’ Those things are important and helpful. But being able to tell a story is something that will resonate with a lot of staffers and members both.” Nestlé’s Villareal experienced that in a conversation last week with a congressman from Florida “with whom last year it was a bit of a difficult conversation, particularly around carbon pricing,” she told me. “So, this year, we tried a new approach with that office. We didn’t go in and lead with the ask on carbon pricing but wanted to have more of a general conversation about the companies in his district and how we are prioritizing our carbon principles and our climate principles. And it led into a very healthy discussion on carbon pricing and why the companies in his district were supportive of it. It was a very productive and surprisingly good conversation, and we were really pleased coming out of it.” We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. The whole exercise isn’t just about getting members of Congress to support climate action. It’s also letting them know that if they do, they’ll get business support.  “We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back,” explained Anne Kelly. “Most lawmakers think that big businesses only want to break the rules, not call for new ones.” Among other things, she says, members generally aren’t aware of corporate climate leadership, science-based targets or large-scale renewable energy procurement by companies. The LEAD exchanges help them understand such things.  According to Kelly, the success of the virtual advocacy day — which she dubbed a “high-impact, low-footprint and low-budget model” — and the enthusiasm by participating companies has led Ceres to consider upping the frequency of LEAD events, from annually to quarterly. “Based on the rave reviews, I’d say many colleagues are hooked,” she added. I asked Villareal, one of those enthusiasts, what advice she’d give someone who hasn’t yet dipped their toe into the congressional advocacy waters. “It can always be scary to try something new, but it is so worth it,” she replied. “In the end, you get tremendous benefit from using your voice and especially on critical and positive issues like climate.” I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. Topics Policy & Politics Carbon Policy Featured Column Two Steps Forward GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage via Shutterstock Close Authorship

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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals

May 18, 2020 by  
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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals Heather Clancy Mon, 05/18/2020 – 02:16 ‘Tis the season for new corporate social and climate commitments, especially at the start of this decade of action and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires short-term prioritization from responsible companies around the world.  So Intel’s declaration of its latest goals, which include a new 100 percent commitment to clean power and a “net positive” water ambition, isn’t all that unusual. But one component is highly unique: the company’s decision to include three “global challenges” — ones that require collaboration with “industries, governments and communities” to pull off. Simply stated, they are: Revolutionize health and safety with technology Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change In the press release touting the new initiative, Intel CEO Bob Swan noted: “The world is facing challenges that we understand better each day as we collect and analyze more data, but they go unchecked without a collective response — from climate change to deep digital divides around the world to the current pandemic that has fundamentally changed all our lives. We can solve them, but only by working together.” If you glance at the challenges above, you’d be right in thinking they’re awfully broad. But Intel has laid out some very specific milestones under each of them (more on those in moment), and those aspirations are timebound. They’ll be measured and reported on, just like another other sustainability metric and the company’s leadership will be held accountable for them, said Todd Brady, senior director of global public affairs and sustainability at Intel. This year, for example, Brady said a portion of bonuses is linked to whether Intel achieves a 75 percent renewable energy benchmark (it’s near that mark) and for further progress on its water restoration efforts — so far, it has conserved billions of gallons in local communities in which it operates. This is a longstanding practice for Intel, something the company has done since 2008 . ‘One company can’t solve climate change’ Swan, who took the helm as Intel CEO in January 2019, was the catalyst for the creation of the shared goals — because “one company can’t solve climate change” — and a broad coalition of stakeholders across the company was responsible for developing them, according to Brady.  “He really pushed us to think big. We don’t see this space as competitive, we see it as one where we can work together and collaborate,” he said. The challenges are pegged to the adjectives that drive the company’s renewed corporate mandate: Responsible. Inclusive. Sustainable. Enabling. (The shorthand used by Intel is RISE.) Here is a summary of what falls under each of them, all integrally linked with Intel’s high-level strategic agenda: Revolutionize health and safety with technology A focus on providing technology to accelerate cures for diseases; it includes the company’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative The creation of a global coalition focused on defining and setting safety standards for autonomous vehicles Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness It is spearheading an effort to create and standardize a Global Inclusion Index that companies can use to track and disclose progress on issues such as equal pay or the percentage of women and minorities in senior positions A major focus on addressing the digital divide and expanding access to technology skills. By 2030, it has pledged to partner with 30 governments (it doesn’t specify at what level) and 30,000 institutions to achieve this. Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change It will work with personal computer manufactures to create “the most sustainable and energy-efficient PC in the world — one that eliminates carbon, water and waste in its design and use.”  The creation of a collective approach to reducing emissions for semiconductor manufacturing and cloud computing and on using technology to combat the negative impact of climate change While Brady didn’t share the specific milestones for the global challenges — which leaves them open to interpretation — they are bound by its 2030 agenda. He acknowledged that the work already has started and that the company will be discussing new partnerships in the coming months that point the way. “We have started in a few different areas,” he said. A work in progress As you contemplate the next phase of Intel’s corporate sustainability journey, make sure to step back for a reality check on the company’s 2020 goals. According to the its latest report , Intel has delivered on the vast majority of them. For example, it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent over the past decade, achieved its zero waste to landfill aspiration and has saved more than 4.5 kilowatt-hours of energy from 2012 to 2020 (beating its goal of 4 billion kWh).  It has also restored more than 1.6 billion gallons of water. That puts it ahead of its goal to restore as much water as it uses by 2025, which is one reason Intel is stressing a net positive vision that will see it restore more water than it uses. It’s another place where collaboration is integral. “Where we have been most successful is where we have brought multiple players to the table,” Brady said. Where Intel hasn’t delivered: increasing the energy efficiency of notebook computers and data center servers by 25 times by 2020 over 2010 level (it has managed a 14 times increase) and encouraging at least 90 percent compliance among its supply chain on 12 environmental, labor, ethics, health and safety, and diversity and inclusivity metrics (it has achieved nine out of 12).  Topics Corporate Strategy Technology Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Intel Close Authorship

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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals

Protect or destroy a virtual world in The Sims new eco pack

May 12, 2020 by  
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Just as real-life youth are growing up in a world where pollution will ruin their  health , neighborhoods, oceans and planet if they don’t take drastic action, so go their virtual counterparts in The Sims. Electronic Arts will issue a new eco take on its wildly popular video game series on June 5. The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack introduces Evergreen Harbor, a neighborhood threatened by garbage and bad air quality. Players will see the consequences of their actions in real-time. If they add solar panels, build eco-friendly houses and use wind power, the virtual air turns from gray to blue. Make enough positive decisions, and players will be rewarded with a glimpse of the aurora borealis. They can even dumpster dive for upcycling  material. If they ignore questions of sustainability, Evergreen Harbor gets grim indeed. A trailer shows the young Sim activists making speeches, working in a maker space using 3-D printers, raising baby chicks, building eco-housing, inventing a pollution-sucking machine and dancing in a rooftop garden. Originally, The Sims came out in 2000, a spinoff of the SimCity game introduced in 1989. Players create virtual characters called Sims and make all the decisions about where they live, who they associate with and how they spend their time and money. The Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack introduces new career options for Sims, such as civil designer and freelance crafter. Video game company Maxis developed The Sims franchise, and Electronic Arts publishes the games. The series is one of the top video games worldwide, selling almost 200 million copies. The new Eco Lifestyle Expansion gives players the chance to guide their Sims via personal decisions that have wide-ranging consequences. “We’re thrilled to give players the opportunity to explore an eco-friendly way of living in The Sims and play the change they want to see,” George Pigula, producer of The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack, said in a press release. “By discovering and practicing sustainable habits, like using  solar panels  or wind turbines to power their electricity, or upcycling materials to create new furniture, players and their Sims can play with life in all-new ways.” + Electronic Arts Images via EA Games

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Tour 5 national parks from home

March 19, 2020 by  
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As people social distance and shelter in place, they may feel the walls closing in on them. Fortunately, the National Park Service has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to offer free virtual tours of five beloved parks. Of course, the online experience isn’t quite like being there, but these tours are pretty cool and may inspire dreams of post-pandemic travels . The five tours feature Kenai Fjords in Alaska , Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Hawaii Volcanoes, Bryce Canyon in Utah and Dry Tortugas in Florida. Each virtual tour is led by a National Park Service ranger. The varied terrains and activities help entertain viewers. Related: How National Parks benefit the environment The tour of Kenai Fjords lets you climb down a slippery, icy crevasse in Exit Glacier — much easier done virtually than in real life. In Carlsbad Caverns, viewers get a bat’s eye view to help them learn about echolocation. Hawaii Volcanoes features a walk through a lava tube and a trip up volcanic cliffs. Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park consists of 1% Fort Jefferson and 99% underwater. Join a ranger for a virtual dive into this diverse ecosystem, including a swim through a coral reef and an exploration of the Windjammer shipwreck. As the Bryce Canyon tour points out, two-thirds of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way from their backyards. This tour highlights Bryce Canyon’s dark skies and allows viewers to tap around to check out constellations while listening to night sounds like owls and crickets. At press time, many National Park Service units are still open with reduced services and closed visitors centers. But this may change as the coronavirus situation progresses. “The NPS is working with federal, state and local authorities, while we as a nation respond to this public health challenge,” NPS deputy director David Vela said in a press release. “Park superintendents are assessing their operations now to determine how best to protect the people and their parks going forward.” So before setting out on that big drive to camp in a park, consider sitting tight on your couch and taking a virtual tour. + National Park Service and Google Arts & Culture Images via Wikimedia Commons

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Role-playing video game sparks climate action in players worldwide

September 10, 2018 by  
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Research published last week in the journal PLoS One examined the effects of World Climate Simulation, a role-playing game of the UN climate talks. The video game found that 81 percent of participants showed an increased desire to combat climate change despite political beliefs. The game’s ability to bridge gaps across the political spectrum and engage those who are less concerned about the need for climate action is a major benchmark in propelling the environment to the forefront of national and international policy making. The research group examined the virtual advocates’ beliefs about climate change , emotional responses to its effects and intent to improve climate-change-inducing behaviors. In total, 2,000 participants — from eight different countries, four continents and various age groups from middle school students to CEOs — were selected for the assessment. The analysis concluded that participants exhibited both a greater sense of urgency as well as hope in combating climate change, alongside a desire to understand more about climate science and the impact of climate change. Related: Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM “It was this increased sense of urgency, not knowledge, that was key to sparking motivation to act,” said Juliette Rooney Varga, lead researcher of University of Massachusetts’s Lowell Climate Change Initiative . “The big question for climate change communication is: how can we build the knowledge and emotions that drive informed action without real-life experience which, in the case of climate change, will only come too late?” Co-author Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive provided “three key ingredients” in response: “information grounded in solid science, an experience that helps people feel for themselves on their own terms and social interaction arising from conversation with their peers.” Developed nations within the game pledge monetary support to developing nations through the Green Climate Fund, a fund designed to cut emissions and help countries adapt to the change. The real-life climate policy computer model C-ROADS then receives the players’ choices and gives immediate feedback on how the decisions will ultimately impact the environment. C-ROADS has been used to support the real UN climate negotiations as well, as it is an effective simulator of expected outcomes. “Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” said John Sterman, co-author of the study and professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “World Climate works because it enables people to express their own views, explore their own proposals and thus learn for themselves what the likely impacts will be.” The players’ first negotiations usually backslide when they see the future outcomes on their health, prosperity and welfare. The next rounds of negotiation using C-ROADS are generally much more aggressive in achieving emission cuts after players see how climate change impacts their own lives. The game is now being used as an official resource for schools in France, Germany and South Korea. The social interactions fostered by World Climate Simulation are proving a valuable resource in achieving a global movement to advocate for climate action. The game is also showing that education is a key component in successfully implementing climate policy within government. + MIT Image via Glenn Carstens-Peters

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Role-playing video game sparks climate action in players worldwide

A new study reveals that urban green spaces may be an antidote to depression

July 23, 2018 by  
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A recent study shows that symptoms of depression can be reduced for people who have access to green spaces. Researchers in Philadelphia transformed vacant lots in the city into green spaces and found that adults living near these newly planted areas reported decreased feelings of depression, with the biggest impact occurring in low-income neighborhoods. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine teamed up with members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to transform and observe 541 randomly selected vacant lots in Philadelphia. Eugenia South, assistant professor and co-author of the study , said Philadelphia’s littered lots were an ideal environment to set-up their groundwork. “There’s probably 40,000 of them in the city” she told NPR , “but they’re concentrated in certain sections of the city, and those areas tend to be in poorer neighborhoods.” According to the study, lower socioeconomic conditions have already been proven to distress mental health states. Related: Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space The researchers separated the lots into three groups: a control group of lots where nothing was altered, a set of lots that was cleaned up of litter, and a group of lots where everything, including existing vegetation, was removed and replanted with new trees and grass. “We found a significant reduction in the amount of people who were feeling depressed ” South said. Her team used a psychological distress scale to ask people how they felt, including senses of hopelessness, restlessness and worthlessness, as well as measuring heart rates, a leading indicator of stress, of residents walking past the lots. Low-income neighborhoods showed as high as a 27.5 percent reduction in depression rates. South said, “In the areas that had been greened, I found that people had reduced heart rates when they walked past those spaces.” While previous research has cross-studied the beneficial effects of green spaces on mental health, experts, such as Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch from the University of California, Berkeley, are regarding this experiment as “innovative.” Morello-Frosch said that previous studies were observational in nature and failed to provide concrete statistical results as this study has offered. Morello-Frosch, who was not involved with the analysis, said, “To my knowledge, this is the first intervention to test — like you would in a drug trial — by randomly alleviating a treatment to see what you see.” Parallel research has identified indicators of crime-reduction and increased community interaction, showing that green spaces are a low-cost answer to improving many facets of a community’s well-being, now including mental health. +  JAMA Network Open Via NPR Before and After images via Eugenia South and Bernadette Hohl/JAMA Network Open

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How PwC is using VR to help ‘see’ the sustainable future

May 3, 2018 by  
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Megadrones, self-driving cars and 3D-printed buildings are in this virtual reality system’s plan for a future that has beat climate change.

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Waving Wall: Massive Recycled Bottle Installation Shows the Virtual Water Footprint of Two Pairs of Jeans

January 2, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Waving Wall: Massive Recycled Bottle Installation Shows the Virtual Water Footprint of Two Pairs of Jeans Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , Chalkwell britain , embbeded water , public art , public art installation , Recycled Water bottles , Urban design , water consciousness , water issues , water use

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Waving Wall: Massive Recycled Bottle Installation Shows the Virtual Water Footprint of Two Pairs of Jeans

EU Environment Commissioner Says Resource Waste Will Lead To A New Recession

January 2, 2012 by  
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At first the recession saw a reduction in global emissions as industries around the world made cutbacks – however now, in a bid to survive, many companies are making cheaper, more environmentally damaging choices in order to reduce costs. This includes not seeking out alternative energy due to the cost of implementation, and simply cutting corners where possible. In a damming assessment of the global situation, EU Environmental Commissioner Janez Poto?nik recently said that the current overuse and waste of valuable natural resources is threatening to produce a fresh economic crisis. Read the rest of EU Environment Commissioner Says Resource Waste Will Lead To A New Recession Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: climate change evidence , climate change richest nations , copenhagen climate change , developing nations climate change , energy global , g20 climate change , global climate change , global waste , guardian climate change , IEA climate change , Janez Poto?nik , Janez Poto?nik resources , kyoto agreement , waste resources

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