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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Coming Climate Change/Part 2

Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

..."Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt, a process that scientists estimate may take centuries but that could eventually raise sea levels by as much as 14 feet. Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” And 10 years from now, will other thresholds be crossed that scientists are only now contemplating?

It is true that there is uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of these risks and many others. But those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture.

The nature of a crisis is its unpredictability. And as we all witnessed during the financial crisis, a chain reaction of cascading failures ensued from one intertwined part of the system to the next. It’s easy to see a single part in motion. It’s not so easy to calculate the resulting domino effect. That sort of contagion nearly took down the global financial system.

With that experience indelibly affecting my perspective, viewing climate change in terms of risk assessment and risk management makes clear to me that taking a cautiously conservative stance — that is, waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now.

Continue reading the main story
I’m a businessman, not a climatologist. But I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists and economists who have devoted their careers to this issue. There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible.

Farseeing business leaders are already involved in this issue. It’s time for more to weigh in. To add reliable financial data to the science, I’ve joined with the former mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, and the retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on an economic analysis of the costs of inaction across key regions and economic sectors. Our goal for the Risky Business project — starting with a new study that will be released this week — is to influence business and investor decision making worldwide.

We need to craft national policy that uses market forces to provide incentives for the technological advances required to address climate change. As I’ve said, we can do this by placing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Many respected economists, of all ideological persuasions, support this approach. We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses. At the same time, all fossil fuel — and renewable energy — subsidies should be phased out. Renewable energy can outcompete dirty fuels once pollution costs are accounted for.

Some members of my political party worry that pricing carbon is a “big government” intervention. In fact, it will reduce the role of government, which, on our present course, increasingly will be called on to help communities and regions affected by climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms. We’ll all be paying those costs. Not once, but many times over.

This is already happening, with taxpayer dollars rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy and the deadly Oklahoma tornadoes. This is a proper role of government. But our failure to act on the underlying problem is deeply misguided, financially and logically.

In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security. So it is perverse that those who want limited government and rail against bailouts would put the economy at risk by ignoring climate change.

This is short-termism. There is a tendency, particularly in government and politics, to avoid focusing on difficult problems until they balloon into crisis. We would be fools to wait for that to happen to our climate.

When you run a company, you want to hand it off in better shape than you found it. In the same way, just as we shouldn’t leave our children or grandchildren with mountains of national debt and unsustainable entitlement programs, we shouldn’t leave them with the economic and environmental costs of climate change. Republicans must not shrink from this issue. Risk management is a conservative principle, as is preserving our natural environment for future generations. We are, after all, the party of Teddy Roosevelt.

THIS problem can’t be solved without strong leadership from the developing world. The key is cooperation between the United States and China — the two biggest economies, the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and the two biggest consumers of energy.

When it comes to developing new technologies, no country can innovate like America. And no country can test new technologies and roll them out at scale quicker than China.

The two nations must come together on climate. The Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, a “think-and-do tank” I founded to help strengthen the economic and environmental relationship between these two countries, is focused on bridging this gap.

We already have a head start on the technologies we need. The costs of the policies necessary to make the transition to an economy powered by clean energy are real, but modest relative to the risks.

A tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure. This would strengthen national security by reducing the world’s dependence on governments like Russia and Iran.

Climate change is the challenge of our time. Each of us must recognize that the risks are personal. We’ve seen and felt the costs of underestimating the financial bubble. Let’s not ignore the climate bubble."

Henry M. Paulson Jr. is the chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago and served as secretary of the Treasury from July 2006 to January 2009.

The Coming Climate Crash

 Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

Great article from the NY Times.  We've discussed a Carbon Tax on the show, and this piece offers compelling evidence to push ahead quickly.

Here's the link.  We'll post twice today as it is fairly long:

"THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.

It’s true that the United States can’t solve this problem alone. But we’re not going to be able to persuade other big carbon polluters to take the urgent action that’s needed if we’re not doing everything we can do to slow our carbon emissions and mitigate our risks.

I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving. Looking back at the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008, it is easy to see the similarities between the financial crisis and the climate challenge we now face.

We are building up excesses (debt in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat now). Our government policies are flawed (incentivizing us to borrow too much to finance homes then, and encouraging the overuse of carbon-based fuels now). Our experts (financial experts then, climate scientists now) try to understand what they see and to model possible futures. And the outsize risks have the potential to be tremendously damaging (to a globalized economy then, and the global climate now).

Back then, we narrowly avoided an economic catastrophe at the last minute by rescuing a collapsing financial system through government action. But climate change is a more intractable problem. The carbon dioxide we’re sending into the atmosphere remains there for centuries, heating up the planet.

That means the decisions we’re making today — to continue along a path that’s almost entirely carbon-dependent — are locking us in for long-term consequences that we will not be able to change but only adapt to, at enormous cost. To protect New York City from rising seas and storm surges is expected to cost at least $20 billion initially, and eventually far more. And that’s just one coastal city.

New York can reasonably predict those obvious risks. When I worry about risks, I worry about the biggest ones, particularly those that are difficult to predict — the ones I call small but deep holes. While odds are you will avoid them, if you do fall in one, it’s a long way down and nearly impossible to claw your way out.

Scientists have identified a number of these holes — potential thresholds that, once crossed, could cause sweeping, irreversible changes. They don’t know exactly when we would reach them. But they know we should do everything we can to avoid them.

Already, observations are catching up with years of scientific models, and the trends are not in our favor.

Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two. The lack of reflective ice will mean that more of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the oceans, accelerating warming of both the oceans and the atmosphere, and ultimately raising sea levels...."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Green Initiatives: The #1 Way to Improve Your Bottom Line

We love this story.   Below is the link as well.

LINK: Read more: 

"Even when business is good, most enterprises are on a constant quest to improve profits and strengthen the bottom line. After all, you cannot grow a business without increasing your income.
While innovation, excellent customer service and cost-cutting measures can all contribute to a healthy balance sheet, there are other, easier ways that companies can increase their profits. In fact, some of them are so simple and straightforward that it’s a wonder that every business hasn’t already done them.
Case in point? Green initiatives — that is, telling your customers how you’re minimizing your impact on the environment and making positive changes toward “going green.” It’s a simple change, but one that can have incredible impact on your business’s success.
Customers Buy Green
When you think of the typical environmentally conscious consumer, you probably think of a minimalist or someone who consumes as little as possible.Perhaps you think of the stereotypical “granola” or “crunchy” shopper, someone who buys exclusively organic, local or independently, sustainably produced products and maintains an overall “natural” lifestyle.
Those shoppers are certainly a segment of the market, but research shows that the average “green” shopper doesn’t fit the “granola” stereotype. In fact, most people who prefer green products tend to shop more often, buy more items and spend more than any other segment. Green shoppers tend to be more loyal, as well, repeatedly buying products and services that align with their values even if less expensive or convenient options are available.
Not only do those people who buy green products spend more, they also form a large, and growing, segment of the buying population. According to research firm Ipsos, almost half of all adults are more inclined to purchase a product or service if it is environmentally friendly — and about 40 percent of adults are willing to pay more for products that are environmentally friendly. And it’s not just the products that a company offers that can make a difference: That same Ipsos study indicated that about half of adults are more likely to make purchases from companies that support environmental causes or charities.
So what does this all mean for your business? In short, you need to communicate your environmental initiatives to your customers — no matter how small they may be.
It’s Easy Being Green
Instituting green initiatives in your business doesn’t require making wholesale shifts to your business model. Just a few small changes can reduce your footprint and give your customers greater confidence that they are purchasing from environmentally conscious companies. For example:
  • Reduce your power usage. Encourage employees to turn off their computers at the end of the day. Turn the thermostat up or down a few degrees; even in the server room, which needs to be kept cool, a few degrees difference can save a great deal of energy and money.
  • Speaking of servers, invest in refurbished equipment instead of buying new. A Dell PowerEdge R2950 refurbished server, for example, can cost almost 50 percent less than a new model, while also saving the hundreds of pounds of raw materials and energy used to manufacture new servers.
  • Institute an office recycling program. Reduce paper usage by encouraging email communication and limiting how often employees print.
  • Reduce travel costs and environmental impact by using technology.
  • Invest in green building materials and follow green building standards when constructing new facilities.
Shout It From the Rooftops
While you might be tempted to go about your business of going green quietly and without fanfare, it’s important to let your customers know about your commitment to the environment. Remember, buyers prefer to support those companies that share their values, so it’s important to tell them what you’re doing and how you’re meeting their expectations. It could be as simple as a page on your website outlining your initiatives or a sticker on a product package — or as elaborate as a full-scale PR campaign announcing your initiatives.
Sharing your green initiatives with your customers (and potential customers) does more than spur them to spend more money with you.  Taking even small steps toward environmental sustainability shows that you care, and that you want to use your resources responsibly. It also shows your customers that you’re remaining current with prevailing trends and evolving. Companies that stagnate and try to maintain the same business model with little deviation often fail to grow — and usually lose business to more innovative companies.
Above all, going green is the right thing to do. Because even small changes can make a big difference, there’s no reason for a company not to care about the environment and tell the world how much they care."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The New Flow of Green Money

This is a good week to bring you some of the recent shows we've released on our main site (still planned for fall release on our radio network, specially on the flagship station, WRNP 1320).  On Weds we promoted our segment with Sara Gonzalez Rothi of National Wildlife Federation.  Today we bring you a phenomenal with Richard Bookbinder of Terra Verde Capital.

Here's the link:

And a description you can find on our main site, Renewable

Show Description:We love reporting to you on the business side of green.  There's no better show or guest than this one--Richard Bookbinder from Terra Verde Capital Partners--giving us an amazing insight into the financial markets and their lightning shift into sustainable investing. 

Mr. Bookbinder has a long history in shifting millions of dollars into building a cleaner, brighter future.  The companies he has headed, including Terra Verde Capitol, have funded huge projects of building clean energy plants, new technology improvements in reducing the use of  energy and the creation of waste, and the paramount global quest for clean water. 

The global economy is clearly being reshaped, we think in a very good way, by financial leaders like Richard.  Everyone  can help such leaders make quality investments in sustainability by investing in their funds. 

Do you want to make a difference in the world?  Listen to this segment and reshape your own managed portfolio.

Guest Bio:
Managing Member Mr. Bookbinder formed Bookbinder Capital Management LLC (“BCM”) in 1999 and is actively involved in all aspects of fund management including portfolio allocation, manager research, and due diligence. Mr. Bookbinder currently manages two funds of funds, The Roebling Fund LP launched October 1999, and TerraVerde Capital Partners LP, launched July 2009. 

Prior to forming BCM, Mr. Bookbinder was a Founding Principal of Sandler O’Neill & Partners, L.P, a leading investment bank specializing in middle-market financial institutions. Previously, Mr. Bookbinder was a Limited Partner and Associate Director in fixed-income sales at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. and before that he directed the sale of municipal bonds to high net worth individuals at L.F. Rothschild & Co. He began his career in the fixed income area of J.B. Hanauer & Co. 

Mr. Bookbinder is registered with the National Futures Association as an NFA Associate Member, and currently holds a Series 3 registration with FINRA. Mr. Bookbinder earned a B.A. in Economics from Upsala College. 

Mr. Bookbinder is a member of US SIF, the American Council on Renewable Energy, and CERES. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Darrow School, New Lebanon, NY, and a member of the Board of Visitors and Governors Investment Committee of Washington College, Chestertown, MD. He also serves as the external advisor to Washington College’s student run Alex Brown Investment Fund. His book, Fund of Funds Investing: a Roadmap to Portfolio Diversification, was published by John Wiley & Sons in 2009.


Boeing Turning Tobacco Into Aviation Biofuel

Biofuel hit disfavor when corn stock became the dominate source of material.   Since then we've learned to avoid feed that competes with food supplies.  Last month we talked to an expert in NC who helped local farmers grow material that complimented their lands, was not a food supply and allowed them to provide material for local biofuel.

Now, we see the same positive steps coming together in South Africa in conjunction with some excellent work done by Boeing.  EPA, in the US, set some high standards for air quality improvements.  To meet those, we need contributions from car manufacturers, building designers, grid operators and, as we see here, suppliers of transportation fuels.  We applaud everyone of you for your innovation and commitment to protecting our environment.

South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG announced in August that they are collaborating to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant. This initiative broadens cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa's goals for public health as well as economic and rural development.

"It's an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant," said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International."South Africa is leading efforts to commercialize a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation's environmental footprint and advance the region's economy."

SkyNRG is expanding production of the hybrid plant known asSolaris as an energy crop that farmers could grow instead of traditional tobacco. Test farming of the plants, which are effectively nicotine-free, is underway in South Africa with biofuel production expected from large and small farms in the next few years. Initially, oil from the plant's seeds will be converted into jet fuel. In coming years, Boeing expects emerging technologies to increase South Africa's aviation biofuel production from the rest of the plant.

"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking," said Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist. "This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region's economic opportunity."

"We strongly believe in the potential of successfully rolling out Solaris in the Southern African region to power sustainable fuels that are also affordable," said Maarten van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer, SkyNRG.

In October 2013, Boeing and SAA said they would work together to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. As part of that effort, they are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to position farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socioeconomic value to communities without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Boeing is the aviation industry's leader in the development of sustainable aviation biofuel, working with partners in the United States, Europe, China, Middle East, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia and other countries. When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel through its lifecycle. Airlines have conducted more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel since the fuel was approved in 2011. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Wildlife Federation/Sara Gonzalez Rothi Interview

We very much hope you listen to our weekly radio show.  We recently released a fascinating segment with Sara Gonzalez Rothi, Senior Policy Specialist at NWF who gave us great insight into the on-going ramifications of the Deepwater Spill in the Gulf and explained in very simple terms the environmental and economic changes that came out of this disaster.  Below is a link to the show and a description/bio of Sara as well.  Enjoy.

While there, please listen to some of the other shows as well.   We encourage you to listen live on-line each Weds, 1-2p, EST, on WRNP 1320 AM.



Show Description:
Our quest for domestic oil and gas, in so many ways a bonanza to our domestic economy, comes, as we know, with steep risk.  Too often, from Valdez to the incredible Gulf of Mexico, we have seen the results. 

Today we welcome to ReNewable Now Sara Gonzalez-Rothi from National Wildlife Federation as we try to explore this complicated and emotional issue and try to bring balanced reporting to the specifics of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and explain for you, as best we can, what happened, who is responsible, who will pay for restoration and how much--a staggering number--that restoration will costs. 

We grapple with the over riding concern:  Can we ever truly clean up a spill? 

Join us and see what you think.  All the while ponder this as well:  If we do fully restore, than what options do we have in trying to remove the mountains of plastic equally choking off our oceans?

Guest Bio:

Senior Policy Specialist, Gulf and Coastal Restoration 

National Advocacy Center - Washington, DC 

Sara Gonzalez-Rothi Kronenthal joined the National Wildlife Federation in September 2012. She works primarily on Gulf of Mexico restoration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, including restoration of America’s Everglades. Sara also serves as the Interim Policy Director for the Campaign to Restore the Mississippi River Delta. Prior to NWF, Sara served as Legislative Counsel for Senator Bill Nelson, managing a wide range of environmental, energy, and agricultural legislation. In that role, she supported the Senator’s immediate and long-term efforts to address the Gulf oil disaster. Sara was a key staffer in drafting, negotiating, and final passage of the RESTORE Act. 
Sara is a Florida native, and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Miami. Sara is currently pursuing an LL.M. in environmental law at the George Washington University.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 10 best U.S. cities for work-life balance

How great is it to have balance in life?  Just as we try at Renewable Now to help bring balance to the environment and economy, so, too, do individuals need to achieve stability in all aspects of their lives.  Of course, the sooner, the better.

Where do you live?   Can you find peace within the daily demands of life?  Are their places that grace equity in life, and place a strong emphasis on quality of life?  This article say's an unequivocal, "YES".

Our ecosystems, too, are under stress.  We battle contamination in food, water supplies, air quality degradation and  multiple environmental on onslaughts.   We self-inflict punishment on our systems as well.  Those living in these areas, or similar conditions, should feel good about the many advantages you enjoy.  Those outside these "best" meccas should strive to create as many of these positive conditions as possible within our means and geography.

We don't advocate working less--we love work.  We simply encourage everyone to work smarter and find your own way of reducing stress and adding enjoyment.

Having a positive work-life balance isn't totally dependent on your job; where you live can also play a role.
Bloomington, Indiana, tops this year's ranking of the best cities for work-life balance, according to the finance site NerdWallet. Home to Indiana University, the top employer in the region, Bloomington was crowned the best city for work-life balance because of the low number of average weekly hours worked, as well as its shorter average commute times.
"Workers who seek a healthy work-life balance can reduce stress and improve the quality of their lives," Divya Raghaven, a strategy associate at NerdWallet, wrote on the company's blog.
NerdWallet figured its rankings of 536 U.S. cities based on four factors: the mean hours worked per week by an average employee in each city, the average daily commute time, as well as the median earnings for full-time, year-round workers and the median rent in each city.
A common theme among the highest-ranked cities is that seven of the top 10 are home to major colleges or universities. Rounding out this year's 10 best cities for work-life balance are:
  • Provo, Utah — Employees in Provo average 30.9-hour workweeks, the lowest of all the 536 cities in the study. Brigham Young University is located in Provo and is among its top employers.
  • Gainesville, Florida — The average Gainesville employee works just 32.5 hours a week. A major employer there is the University of Florida, the eighth-largest university in the United States.
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin — In addition to a workweek with fewer hours, Eau Claire employees spend less time commuting and have a relatively low cost of living. The home-improvement chain Menards is headquartered in Eau Claire and is one of the city's major employers.
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama — Besides being home to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is a manufacturing, service and retail hub. Employees there average just 33.1-hour workweeks.
  • Iowa City, Iowa – Employees inIowa City work an average of 34.1 hours a week and spend just 17.2 minutes on their daily commute. The University of Iowa is the largest employer in Iowa City.
  • College Station, Texas– College Station is home to Texas A&M University, one of the largest institutions for higher education in the nation.Residents there work an average of 34.1 hours each week and have an average commute of 17.1 minutes.
  • Eugene, Oregon – Employees in Eugene work an average of 34 hours a week and have median earnings of $42,288. Top employers in Eugene include PeaceHealth Medical Group and the University of Oregon.
  • Bellingham, Washington — Workers in Bellingham spend an average of 33.4 hours a week on the job and have average commute times of just 17.5 minutes.
  • Kalamazoo, Michigan — Employees in Kalamazoo work an average of 33.6 hours a week and spend an average of $866 a month on rent. Kalamazoo is home to companies in the pharmaceutical, life sciences and manufacturing industries.
Some of the cities that ranked among the worst for work-life balance include Dale City, Virginia; Waldorf and Germantown, Maryland; Menifee and Tracy, California; and New York City.

Read more: