Heroes of Sustainability: Ray Anderson’s Quest to “Close the Loop”

Most people don’t change overnight — but then again, most people aren’t like Ray Anderson. He was in his 60’s when The Ecology of Commerce, a book by Paul Hawken, fortuitously landed on his desk. The founder of Interface Inc., the world’s largest producer of commercial floor coverings, Anderson thumbed through it, hoping to glean a nugget of inspiration for an upcoming speech he was giving on his company’s environmental vision. What he found was more than a nugget — and way more than something for a one-time-only presentation.

Realizing that working in a sustainable way was not only good for the environment but made good business sense, Anderson asked Interface’s engineers to find out what resources had been stripped from the earth to make the company’s products and ultimately boost the bottom line. For around $800 million in revenue, they had used some 1.2 billion pounds of raw materials, most of it oil and natural gas. Of that finding, he’s said: “I was staggered. I wanted to throw up. My company’s technologies and those of every other company I know of anywhere, in their present forms, are plundering the earth. This cannot go on and on and on.”

Then he did something many other business leaders only talk about: He changed.

It started with Mission Zero, which is Interface’s promise to eliminate any negative impact the company has on the environment by the year 2020. So far, they’re on course to do just that, redesigning processes and products, creating new technologies, and increasing the use of renewable materials to get closer to the goal of closed-loop manufacturing.

Ray Anderson

It’s a remarkable feat in the carpet industry, one that relies so heavily on petroleum. But if the behemoth company with sales in 100 countries and manufacturing facilities on four continents can do it, others can surely follow suit.

Anderson makes it clear that while he may be an environmentalist who has traded in the luxury cars for a Prius and owns a solar-powered vacation home in the mountains, that doesn’t mean he’s not a businessman — something he writes about in his 2009 book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose—Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. Indeed, some of the changes Interface has instituted have been expensive up-front, but they’re all paying off in the long run.

In 1997, Anderson laid out the company’s vision, and over a decade later, it still resonates: “If we’re successful, we’ll spend the rest of our days harvesting yesteryear’s carpets and other petrochemically-derived products and recycling them into new materials and converting sunlight into energy, with zero scrap going to the landfill and zero emissions into the ecosystem. And we’ll be doing well … very well … by doing good. That’s the vision.”

To learn more about Interface’s sustainability initiatives, visit www.interfaceglobal.com.

Thomas Kemper

President and Founder, Dolphin Blue

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Sinking Our Economy, Cementing Our Destiny

I recently heard about, and subsequently registered to be active in the AmericaSpeaks National Town Meeting on our Budget and the Economy.

After reading the press release covering the National Town Meeting, and it’s 19 participating large cities (that were satellite connected and another 50+ smaller cities that were “on their own”), I knew I had to be present to deliver my side of what I perceive as the reason our federal government is in deep debt, and what I perceive and believe are the reasons for our economy being in such a frightening transformation for most people.

On Saturday, June 26, four hundred lively and concerned citizens showed up at the Dallas Convention Center, Ballroom C to express our views toward balancing the US Budget.

In anticipation of being outnumbered on my progressive views, I wrote the following piece to share with my fellow symposium attendees, expecting the majority of them to be from the radically-opposed, corporate freedom and big business as usual crowd.  What I discovered in my being there, was that this country’s politics have transformed, particularly since the main presenters and funders of the National Town Meeting are The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the advisory Committee is populated with the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, and a few other think tanks I believe are pro-free trade and anti-environmental as well as being generally opposed to social justice.

My pre-NTM views and opinions follow:

If the reason for this meeting is to ensure there is an economic future to be enjoyed by all of us, then I am here to represent those who want to ensure there is a sustainable, healthy and vibrant natural world remaining for all of us. Look around at what is happening as we sit here debating. The gulf is being destroyed, and many species living there are being destroyed, because of our unwillingness to look differently and with a realization that we need more to become what we aspire to be, than to just amass more consumer goods and more oil-dependent products.

Without a world that provides the healthy air we breathe, the clean water we drink, and fresh, nutritious foods we eat, and our fellow species which pollinate, prey on insects and rodents and keep nature in balance, we’re all doomed.

Of utmost importance to me is insuring that we have a healthy and sustainable planet not just for us, but for future generations.

If one of the intentions of this NTM is to return to the former days of unsustainable economic growth, then we’re all simply accelerating our eventual demise. You may have heard of Peak Oil, if you haven’t, read Micheal C. Ruppert’s Confronting Collapse. Or, Google the Post Carbon Institute or Matthew Simmons. Matthew is a close friend of our former President, George W Bush. See what Matthew has to say on the subject of Peak Oil.

We are fast approaching the end of the age of oil, oil that is capable of running our and the world’s economy. Without that oil, we face a future unlike anything we can now imagine. Google The End of Suburbia by James Howard Kunstler.

If we return to the heyday of unlimited, damn the torpedoes growth, we only accelerate our final collapse. The time we now have is barely sufficient in allowing us to dig our way out of the mess we’re not being told (by our leaders) we’re currently facing.

Campaign contributions gain access and favorable legislation for corporations, who increase their profitability by sending US worker’s jobs overseas. We lose the income tax base, the unemployed workers then become dependent on the healthcare system, mainly county hospitals, and those hospitals receiving federal funds get pushed harder and harder, stressing our local economies and national budget even further.

(in the NTM, I learned the following in a conversation with one of the attendees: Les was telling me he has an asthmatic condition. In a recent episode where he was wheezing, he went to his local hospital’s emergency room, where he was given a blood test and a $ 26.00 prescription. Three months went by when Les received a hospital bill, dunning him for another $ 50.00. He asked the hospital to send him the itemized invoice for his emergency room visit. A few days passed, and Les received a bill showing the $ 50.00 the hospital wanted from him, plus another $ 7000.00 the hospital had invoiced Medicare. He was outraged to say the least.)

How many of these type incidents are happening without our knowledge. No wonder the Medicare and Medicaid programs are stressing the system. The hospital corporations, like the irresponsible giant corporations, are out of control. And our Congress, in its greed, has allowed them to behave in this manner.

Corporate subsidies such as defense dollars expended to conquer countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, are funded by you and me, bankrupting our government and disrupting our economy even further. Once Iraq is under US troops’ domination, companies such as Halliburton, MCI, Verizon, AT&T, Boeing, Blackwater, etc. get huge contracts (funded by you and me) to build infrastructure, which generates future business for these companies, who have given generously to our Congresspersons. We see no return from this expenditure. Socialized risk and expenditure, privatized profit. How long will this failed model continue?

How many jobs have been lost to NAFTA, CAFTA, MFN trade status with China, open markets and free flow of capital, so that our most profitable corporations can off-shore our jobs, derailing our economy further and deepening our dependence on foreign governments and foreign investors who control our destiny. All so a few obscenely wealthy corporations and heartless individuals can get richer and richer, while many of our employable, capable fellow Americans starve.

Healthcare is in critical condition because we’re being fed genetically-modified food and food heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. The food is being raised and shipped from distances many thousands of miles from our tables, causing the food to be heavily dependent on petroleum, creating ever-increasing toxic emissions. We’re eating oil. We’re drinking Viagra, Lipitor, Aleve, Allegra, Flomax, Xanax and Wellbutrin, as these all combine in our bodies, entering us through the tap water we drink. If we drink bottled water and eat from fast food plastic containers, we ingest BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals leaching from the plastic and entering our bodies. If you want to lower healthcare costs, clean up our Congress that so freely takes campaign contributions from BIG pharma. Clean up the USDA and FDA, agencies that are tasked with protecting us, that are now staffed with industry management and lobbyists, who continually enter that revolving door that provides access to more money and more power.

Our water is being privatized, and we’re drinking water contained in plastic, made from petroleum. All so corporations can generate ever-higher profits.

Beef, pork, chickens and other meat giving livestock are being raised and slaughtered in conditions that make not only the animals unhealthy, we are increasingly unhealthier for ingesting animals that have no life-giving energy, no life-giving spirit. We’re being fed animals that are being fed each other, that are being fed toxic food, and are living in conditions not qualified to be considered life at all.

Is it any wonder healthcare costs are continually rising? Is it any wonder Medicare and Medicaid budgets are continually increasing?

If we want to truly address the budget and healthcare in this country, we must first start by reeling in the campaign contributors, the wealthiest in our country and the corporations that are out of control and in violation of human trust, then, we must reform our electoral system and our legislators, who are so greedily allowing our country to be destroyed and bankrupted. We must also take our own responsible steps to do what is right and good for not just us, but for our children and their children. We must preserve our plant, our beautiful garden, because it is the only one we will ever have.
(end of my pre-NTM address)

As I participated with the four other attendees that sat at my table, I was respectfully heard, had plenty of time to express my aforementioned views, and generally had a very enjoyable time participating in the act of balancing the federal budget, something our Congresspersons should be doing in Washington, rather than fighting amongst each other and looking out only for the interest of their campaign funders.

As the early polls came in from the first few questions that were posed to all 3500 participants nationwide, I began to realize the responses appeared to me to be very much in alignment with my personal views. This was a very pleasant surprise. The remainder of the day produced participant views that stayed very much in alignment with my environmental and social views. Indeed, it was obvious many of us were pleased. There is still hope for America!

At the wrap-up of the Dallas NTM on Saturday, there were Theme Team messages voted on by all active 3500 participants in 70 cities across the US. One of the messages for Congress was “If 3500 of us, who sat down for one day, could collaborate and, respectfully dialog with agreement to reach a balanced budget, why can’t you?” I think I know the answer to that question…

  • We want to balance the budget!
  • We’re not being lobbied by every special-interest lobbying group for meeting their desired agenda!

The National Town Meeting went very well, surprisingly, and, unexpectedly, the opportunity for ALL voices to be heard was extended and welcomed. I believe the voices of those representing a vision of a healthy and sustainable planet for our children were present, were heard, and the overwhelming outcome reflected that.

A preliminary report, which was prepared and ready for all participants prior to our departure on Saturday, is available here as a PDF.

And, some articles that have been published online following the National Town Meeting…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roger-hickey/in-deficit-town-meetings_b_627030.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/its-the-jobs-stupid_b_627141.html

It was fun being a participant in an event concerning such a critical issue. This may have been the biggest statement the American people, “We the People” have made in collaboration with our political detractors and deniers, in a peaceful and respectful manner.

We should all pat ourselves on the back and be proud of what we did on Saturday. Now, we must make sure Congress and the President do what we’ve shown them “We the People” can do, and do what we elected them to do.

To join in the AmericaSpeaks discussion, visit www.usabudgetdiscussion.org.

NTM Budget & Economy pg1

NTM Budget & Economy pg2

NTM Budget & Economy pg3

NTM Budget & Economy pg4

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Spamming Their Way to Disaster

Pseudo-scientific disinformation is continually floated around the Internet. Such disinformation is often accompanied by untrue, scurrilous attacks by notorious polluters against environmental organizations and against champions for the environment (e.g.,  Al Gore).

The same group of people who swift-boated John Kerry also work for corporations whose only goal seems to be to make more money — the truth be damned, the environment be damned, human rights be damned, future generations be damned.

I recently received a bogus (spam) email from someone whom I know, and, that someone should have done a bit of diligence in checking out what they emailed me, which follows…

The message I received remains unchanged (with the exception that the original author sent the message in very large text and included one of those sappy smiley faces):

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Message sent to me:

Tom, you have probably seen this, so why did it remind me of you? How is the speaking coming along?  (signed by sender – name withheld by me)

For all of you out there in America and across the globe who have fought so hard to tackle the hideous enemy of our planet, namely carbon emissions, that bogus god you worship named “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”,  there is some really bad news that will be very painful for you to process. But it is my duty to pass it on to you anyway.

Are you sitting down?

Okay, here’s the bombshell. The current volcanic eruption going on in Iceland, since it first started spewing volcanic ash a week ago, has, to this point, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet.  Not only that, this single act of God has added emissions to the earth estimated to be 42 times more than can be corrected by the extreme human regulations proposed for annual reductions.

I know, I know…. (have a group hug)…it’s very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up til midnight to finish your kid’s “The Green Revolution” science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, going on vacation to a city park instead of Yosemite, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with $10 light bulbs …well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just the past week.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in the past week has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.  And, those hundreds of thousands of American jobs you helped move to Asia with expensive emissions demands on businesses… you know, the ones that are creating even more emissions than when they were creating American jobs, well that must seem really worthwhile now.

I’m so sorry. And I do wish that there was some kind of a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western U.S.A. will start in about two months and those fires will negate your efforts to reduce carbon emissions in our world for the next two years.

So, grab a Coke, give the world a hug, and have a nice day!

Especially you Al Gore,  you dip shit !

My reply to sender…

I don’t know you well enough to understand the intention behind your forwarding this to me. Out of respect to you

and your intelligence, I am reserving judgment on your intention.

It is written by someone who is quite antagonistic and probably equally as uneducated as that person is antagonistic.

It is fraught with lame argument and mistruths.

Please explain to me whether you find yourself supporting the message this writer (or writers) communicates or

whether you find it as asinine as I do.

The public speaking is going well.

Tom

To which SENDER replied…

Have no idea who wrote it or its alleged truthfulness. Just thought you would find it humorous. More interested in how you are doing so glad to hear it is going well. Oh and if you have some real data to refute the volcano stuff then send it and I’ll send it to where I got it.

Best, Sender

To which I again replied…

Dear Sender

I’m forwarding to you several web references to support the position that the volcanic plume may actually cause a cooling effect. As well, the grounding of European flights has reduced CO2 emissions significantly below the increased emissions effect caused by the volcanic eruption. I don’t have the science background or knowledge to jump on that bandwagon, and will let the science community establish that position. They are much more capable in that regard than I.

What I do know is this:

At 6+ billion population and growing, human activity and over-consumption is burdening our planet’s ability to sustain itself for human existence. Volcanoes and other natural processes will occur. We must do all we can to sustain the planet for future generations. It is the right thing, and the responsible thing to do for our progeny.

At the bottom of the “update” message you sent me originally, the message carried this paragraph:

“This message from BLANK COMPANY, and any attached files may contain information that is confidential and/or subject of legal privilege intended only for the use by the intended recipient(s). If you are not an intended recipient or a person responsible for delivering the message to an intended recipient, be advised that you have received this message in error and that any dissemination, copying or use of this message or attachment is strictly forbidden, as is the disclosure of the information therein. If you have received this message in error please notify the sender immediately and delete the message.”

I asked one of my support staff to search the website of the BLANK Company. I notice one of their clients is a rather large oil company. That company is one of those great naysayers that is constantly discrediting the community that supports the idea that global warming is a reality. Might this be a stretch to assume said oil company is behind the sending of the message? Maybe.

Also, the volcano image that was part of the message showed a source which we checked out. At http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=6633 that email address is listed as part of a scam warning.

Please be careful in forwarding these emails. You have a highly respected reputation and your good credibility isn’t worth risking in this manner.

Tom

Helpful links referencing a possible cooling effect from the Icelandic volcano eruption:

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2010/04/could-icelands-volcano-slow-global-warming/39066/

http://magblog.audubon.org/icelandic-volcano%E2%80%99s-impact-global-warming-green-transportation-bird-watching-and-more

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/technology/Volcano%20unlikely%20slow%20global%20warming/2914585/story.html

http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/volcano-not-likely-slow-global-warming-3469098

http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/Home/31064

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/04/20/the-ash-cloud-s-silver-lining.html

http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2010/04/16//2874939.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/19/eyjafjallajokull-volcano-climate-carbon-emissions

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When this type of communication is sent so freely and irresponsibly, it harms all of us.

That harm manifests itself in the following ways…

Many recipients of this type communication come away more confused, and rather than taking positive, sustainable actions, do nothing.

  • It encourages those who are uneducated and reactionary about our planet’s current un-sustainable condition, to be even more irresponsible in their daily actions.
  • It allows abusive, irresponsible corporations to continue their abusive, irresponsible practices.
  • It feeds those who are likely to do nothing about our planet’s current state of un-sustainability, and, even worse, continue doing harm that only degrades Mother Earth’s condition further.

When you receive messages such as the message that prompted my response and this blog, do your research, and let the sender know they are only contributing to the harm we are causing our planet and the future our children and their children will inherit.

The evidence is clear. We are burdening our planet, our garden, beyond her capacity to heal herself for our continued healthy and whole existence.

I’m currently reading Michael C. Ruppert’s Confronting Collapse. Pick up a copy for yourself and share the knowledge with others you know.

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Communicating the Right Message

Dolphin Blue was founded on the principle that we can all do something to assist in creating a sustainable planet for future generations.

We’ve always provided only office products that, at minimum, are certified for post consumer recycled material content, assuring the buyer that you are getting product that meets your requirements, and, that truly contributes to a sustainable planet for future generations.

It’s not often that, in my almost eighteen years of building the Dolphin Blue business, I receive such striking examples of what an entity is doing to not only contribute to sustainability, but also to articulate their actions in a very effective manner, such as the State of Pennsylvania’s online video. One of the key points discussed in this exemplary video is concerning the issue of greenwashing (a practice whereby a provider makes unsubstantiated claims regarding the environmental attributes of their product or service, such as “Third-party certified”, without naming the certifying organization, or, stating “recycled content”, without mentioning whether the recycled content is pre-consumer or post consumer, or, stating the percentage of recycled material). Without proper education, greenwashing is easily perpetrated on unknowing, unsuspecting consumers.

That is bad for the unknowing consumer and detrimental to the sustainability of our planet. It’s also ripping off our children’s future.

This exceptional presentation came to me through H2E (Hospitals for a Healthy Environment), of which Dolphin Blue is a long-time member. Please share this far and wide, so others may be able to benefit from this great presentation on Environmentally Preferable Purchasing.

Tom Kemper is the founder and president of Dolphin Blue Inc.

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New Developments in Clean Energy Technology

During a 60-Minutes broadcast on CBS (February 18, 2010), Bloom Energy was described as aBloom Boxmajor innovation in fuel cell technology.  The Bloom fuel cell is composed of relatively inexpensive materials, and it produces electricity from oxidation of natural gas or bio-gas.

It was claimed that an investment of $3000 in a Bloom box could be used to provide power to a residence and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  That would add up to a cost of around $300 billion in the US for residential needs and another $200 billion investment for businesses (my estimate).

The total of $500 billion would buy infrastructure to produce cleaner energy — but not clean energy.  We would still need to extract and oxidize huge amounts of natural gas because bio-gas supplies are not adequate to fuel all our energy needs.  Using natural gas does not constitute a long-term solution to either energy needs or to climate change.  We need to think about ways to eliminate the need to burn natural gas and other fossil fuels.

Another (perhaps alternative) step would be to produce electricity from (a) solar, wind, and geothermal sources on “energy farms” in America’s heartland and (b) off-shore solar, wind, wave, and tidal energy sources on “energy islands” that would be positioned in proximity to population centers near our coasts.   (See http://24-7-360.com/EnergyIsland/patappAndFigures.doc.)

Still, we would need to figure out a way to provide sufficient electricity even when the sun does not shine or when the wind does not blow.  A backup source of energy is needed.

One solution could come from recent developments in an effort to store energy in the form of elemental carbon.   Elemental carbon can be produced from carbon dioxide by a reduction process that uses clean energy.  Elemental carbon could be used like a battery, storing energy that could later be released, as needed, from oxidation to carbon dioxide; but that process would not add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, given that the carbon-dioxide-to-carbon reduction process would offset any net increase in carbon dioxide levels.

Being able to store energy as carbon and to release it without increasing overall carbon dioxide levels would allow us to use only clean energy.  The process of recycling carbon from carbon dioxide could conceivably break dependence on continually extracting and burning fossil fuels.  See this article about recycling carbon dioxide to elemental carbon and using carbon as a recyclable energy resource: http://www.carbonoffsetsdaily.com/press-release/green-carbon-dioxide-recycling-technology-emerging-in-british-columbia-a-feature-of-industry-today-on-industrialinfocom-9964.htm .

Tom Manaugh works as an inventor, an internet marketing consultant for Dolphin Blue, Inc., and a Web designer/developer in Dallas, Texas.

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Giving Thanks: Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back to Mother Earth

thanksgivingThe Pilgrims may have traveled quite a distance to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, but their food didn’t. They learned to source their sustenance locally, a tough task in a new world, and they celebrated with a feast that eventually turned into modern-day Thanksgiving.

Getting food today doesn’t require nearly as much work for most of us as it did for those Pilgrims in the 1600s, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about where it’s coming from.
 
Dinner’s Ready
Concerned about the way animals are treated? Try celebrating this year vegetarian-style. There are so many yummy meat-free foods at Thanksgiving, you may not even miss it. But if the big feast just won’t be the same without a bird on the table, look for pasture-raised, free-range turkey. This tells you that the animal lived outside, without harmful chemicals and hormones pumped into its body. Here are some other labels, classified by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to look for when buying food:
 
A GOOD Startcert humane
Cage free” (eggs)
Free range” (eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey)
Grass fed” (dairy, beef, lamb)
 
The “Good Start” labels indicate a meaningful animal welfare standard, but the standard covers only one aspect of animal care, and compliance with the standard is not verified by a third party.
 
Even BETTER
animal welfare“Free range” (beef, bison, pork, lamb)
Pasture raised” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)
USDA Organic” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)  
 
The “Even Better” labels generally indicate a higher level of animal welfare because the standards are more meaningful than those for the “Good Start” labels, but the standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.
 
The BEST Optionsamerican humane
Certified Humane” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork) 
American Humane Certified” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork) 
Animal Welfare Approved” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork, rabbit) 
 
The “Best Options” labels cover multiple aspects of animal care, and compliance with the standards is verified by an independent third party.
 
To get your local store to carry products with these labels, just ask. Have your friends do the same, and the store will likely listen. You can download a request card to put in a store’s comment box or mail to its headquarters.
 cornucopia2
The Ambience
Decorate your table not with cheesy Thanksgiving-print napkins and paper plates but with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and all the other wonderful edible treats the fall season has to offer. If the thought of doing all those dishes makes you want to scrap the holiday altogether, try Preserve Tableware, an environmentally friendly alternative to the disposable stuff. The dishes and cutlery are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are strong enough to be reused dozens of times (or just recycled when you’re done).
 
Top off the look with soy candles and a few sprigs of pine, and you’ll have authentic décor that would make even those who came over on the Mayflower proud.
 
When It’s Over
After the meal’s done and the leftovers picked through, compost the rest. Of the waste Americans send to landfills, 24 percent of it is organic waste (i.e., kitchen scraps). Keeping that waste out of landfills saves space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, making it a win-win however you look at it. Making your own compost is easy!

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Proposed Effort to Slow Melting of Glacier in Antarctica

by Thomas Manaugh, PhD

kelloggI have written before about an “Energy Island” — a floating structure and integrated method of extracting large amounts of energy from the sun, from the wind, and from water waves and currents — and I believe it could be our solution to slow the melting of glaciers in the Antarctic.  

Here, it is proposed that an Energy Island could be used to provide massive amounts of energy for cooling seawater.  Cooling seawater in a key area off the western coast of Antarctica could slow the melting of glacial ice.

One effect of global warming is rapid melting of glaciers around the world. Melting of the glacial ice cap at the South Pole is of greatest concern because the ice that covers the Antarctic continent constitutes most of the glacial ice in the world.  Melting of ice on the continent of Antarctica would raise sea levels by a calculated 234 feet, flooding coastal areas and huge areas of low-lying lands around the world. (Calculation is based on numbers from NASA, referenced and quoted below).

Ground zero for concerns about Antarctica is now focused on an area in Antarctica’s western part.  That area contains Pine Island Glacier, a massive continental glacier that is slowly flowing into the Pine Island Bay on Antarctica’s western coast.  Undercut by warming seawaters, the glacier has been recently found to be melting four times faster than earlier estimated.  (See below reference and quote from research leader Professor Duncan Wingham, University College London.)

Could water off the western coast of Antarctica be cooled in a way that would slow melting of glacial ice in Antarctica?  If so, could such cooling give us a longer time to cope with and reduce global warming before catastrophic rises in sea levels would be otherwise predicted to occur?

It is proposed here that wind, wave, water currents, and solar energy could be used to power an effort to cool seawaters off the coast of a carefully targeted area of western Antarctica.  Cooling of waters in parts of Pine Island Bay could serve to slow the melting of glacial ice that is flowing into the bay.  In essence, the rapid melting of glacial ice would be slowed, the movement of the glacier into Pine Island Bay would be slowed, and more years (perhaps decades) would be granted to reduce global warming before catastrophic sea levels would otherwise inundate coastal areas around the world.

How hard would it be for an Energy Island to cool seawater that bathes the underside of glaciers that flow into Pine Island Bay?  Actually, the process is very simple — even less complicated than the task performed by your refrigerator if it automatically makes ice: the refrigerator controls a flow of water into the ice-making mechanism, cools the water by refrigeration, and discharges the resulting ice.

Similarly, Energy Island only needs to let fresh seawater flow for cooling into a refrigeration space — a space located within in the island’s structure.  The seawater is cooled to a temperature below 0 degrees Celsius (but not to a point of freezing).  It is then discharged from the bottom of the cooling space, and fresh water is allowed into the top of the cooling space to continue the process. 

If inlet and discharge processes were properly configured, it would be possible for the cooling process to operate continuously.

The discharged cooled seawater, now denser and heavier than the water around it, sinks toward the ocean floor.  The space between the glacier and the ocean floor is where the greatest glacier melting occurs.  The cooled seawater infiltrates that critical area and acts to slow the melting process.

Heat extracted from the seawater is dissipated from refrigeration condenser coils into the air.  That cooling process could be enhanced by also using water to cool the coils.  The result — warmed air that contains water vapor — would quickly cool in the frigid atmosphere of Antarctica, adding to snowfall.  Fresh snow adds to glaciers and helps protect glaciers from melting because snow is efficient at reflecting sunlight.

Dr. Thomas Manaugh is a frequent contributor to numerous blogs, including, Dolphin Blue, Inc. He is a leading expert in the ecosystem and climate and large advocate for anything helping lessen our carbon footprint. He can be contacted at manaugh@dolphinblue.com.

Reference and quote from NASA:

http://icesat.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ICESat_Brochure.pdf

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are an average of 2.4 km (7900 ft) thick, cover 10 percent of the Earth’s land area, and contain 77 percent of the Earth’s fresh water (33 million km3 or 8 million mi3). The Antarctic ice sheet has 10 times more ice than Greenland because of its greater area and average ice thickness. If their collective stored water volume were released into the ocean, global sea level would rise by about 80 m (260 ft).

Reference and quote from Professor Duncan Wingham:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6797162.ece

Satellite records show that if the melting of the Pine Island Glacier in west Antarctica goes on accelerating at current rates, the main section will have disappeared in 100 years, 500 years sooner than previously thought.

The research showed that the ice surface is dropping at a rate of 16m a year.The faster melting affects 5,400sq km of the glacier, containing enough water to raise world sea levels by 3cm, said Professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, a member of the research team. The glacier’s melting could also expose stationary ice behind it to warm seawater, and if that ice were to melt, it could raise sea levels by another 25cm. The research, led by Professor Duncan Wingham at University College London and published in Geophysical Research Letters, is based on satellite observations of the glacier over 15 years. Professor Shepherd said: “Being able to assemble a continuous record of measurements over the past 15 years has provided us with the remarkable ability to identify both subtle and dramatic changes in ice that were previously hidden. “Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s best estimate of 21st-century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern.”  Professor Shepherd said: “This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We’ve known that it’s been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this.”

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Round UP, Impact DOWN

RoundUpLogo_260x113pixI’m excited to announce that we signed a memorandum of understanding today with Renewable Choice Energy to participate in their “Round UP, Impact DOWN” carbon offset project.
 
What this means is that anytime a customer of Dolphin Blue purchases an item, they have an opportunity to offset the carbon emissions associated with their purchase by “rounding up” their purchase price to the nearest dollar amount.
 
Through Dolphin Blue’s participation in the Round Up program our customers have an opportunity to offset a portion of the carbon emissions associated with shipping their order.
 
The extra charge collected by Dolphin Blue when a customer chooses to “round up” is invested in a carbon reduction project administered by Renewable Choice Energy.
 
And here’s what we promise to do for you – all Round Up contributions received will be matched 1-for-1 by Dolphin Blue.
 
Together, we can and will make our world sustainable for future generations.

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Three Components that Create a Sustainable Future

sustainability_metaphor_320I receive numerous calls from suppliers promoting their business and products as being “green” or sustainable, inquiring us to do business with them. I recently received a call this afternoon from a salesman who began telling me his company is looking for resellers of their “green, sustainable products.” When I asked the salesperson to describe what he meant by green, he began telling me his company’s products are bio-degradable or compostable and made of a recycled material.

I asked him where his company manufactured their “green, sustainable” products, and he said mostly the products are made in China and Mexico.  

“How do you consider a product green, or sustainable, when you are shipping it half-way around the globe, spewing forth the heaviest, nastiest, unrefined crude oil (the fuel that powers ocean-going vessels), creating a very heavy carbon footprint, in the transport of your products from China to here?” I asked.

At that point he attempted to justify his company’s practices and behavior by informing me that because there is so much product being shipped here from China, the transportation is actually much more energy-efficient.

So I asked, “Then, what happens if I order the product and I’m inland from either U.S. coast?”

“Oh, we have warehouses in California,” he said.

“And is fuel used to move your product from California to Texas?” I asked. “Wouldn’t that same fuel used to move your product from California to Texas have been used if the product were manufactured here in the U.S.? Plus, you’re now adding the fuel (increasing carbon footprint) used in transporting from China to here?”

He had no answer for me. You see, there is a big problem with the way we have been convinced it is acceptable to do business. Our U.S. business schools are teaching it, our U.S. companies are teaching it, and everyone seems to have bought in, including consumers.

It is not ok to continue shipping products here from China, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, etc., expending millions or billions of tons of fuel, emitting millions of tons of carbon and greenhouse gases, just to have ever cheaper products. IT IS NOT OK!

Look at our economy, destroyed by greed, corruption and deceptive and unethical business practices, while businesses continue believing they are doing us all a justice by bringing more and more products here from abroad, particularly China.

At a time when we need to create more meaningful jobs here, we need to begin bringing back home all our lost manufacturing and production. To me, the objective of creating a sustainable planet for future generations is only accomplished by addressing three components:

  1. Environmental sustainability – buy as close to the place of usage as possible or, preferably, buy local. I’m always certain to put back more than I take, making damn sure I am leaving enough resources for future generations to meet their needs.
  2. Social sustainability/responsibility – buy products made in a way that allow us to support our families, friends, local community, and national community with a living wage. To support indigenous communities in other countries, let’s teach them sustainable practices, not continue degrading their resources and human capital to satisfy our greed and unbridled consumption, as we are now.
  3. Economic sustainability – retain manufacturing and commerce as locally as possible. Like Henry Ford once said, “We have to produce cars our workers can buy, or, pay our workers so they can buy our automobiles.”

If we are to create a truly sustainable planet, we must address all three components of sustainability — environmental, social and economic. If we don’t, we’re going to pass on to our children an unsustainable future.

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Cash for Clunkers: Let’s keep the wheels rolling

100431-CashForClunkersCash for Clunkers. The program was launched on July 27 and offers owners of old, gas-guzzling cars, the opportunity to trade in their car for up to $4,500 to spend on a new, more efficient vehicle. We’ve all heard about the newest bill brought on by the legislature and feelings are mixed in all directions, but this bill is too important and industrious to the US to let dissipate.

The Cash for Clunkers program is a great example of what the government can do to inspire growth and stimulate economic activity in areas resulting in multiple impacts, all those impacts being good and producing positive economic results. According to Business Week, the program has been a huge success, so much so that the initial $1 billion allocated for the program (scheduled to run into November) has nearly run out and economists are saying there is a significant boost in the economy.

With the usage of less fuel, due to auto owners upgrading to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we lessen our dependence on foreign oil, which ultimately gets us out of places like Iraq, and the countries bordering the proposed fuel transmission pipelines through the volatile region near Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most importantly, this will ultimately reduce our military expenditure as we’ll no longer need to occupy oil-producing countries to feed our fuel-inefficient dependency on an obsolete technology, the internal combustion engine.

Not only does this bill increase spending in our otherwise down economy and help us to bring troops home, but it also inadvertently helps the environment. With the creation of incentives for owners of old, fuel-inefficient vehicles to trade up to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, the federal government is, by default, creating a cleaner, or, shall we say, less toxic, atmosphere that provides us the essential air we need to breathe healthfully. In turn, by cleaning the air we breathe, we’re also likely to experience a decrease in lung disease and respiratory-related ailment, eventually decreasing the cost of healthcare.

This bill needs to continue past November. The good it can do for our country is of too car-iconmuch worth to let ebb out. Your congressperson needs to hear from you. Urge them to authorize increased funds for continuation of this highly-productive Cash for Clunkers program.

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