• You, Me, And The Sea

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    Filed in Ecosystems, Wildlife & Biodiversity , Environment & Climate , on by Worldwatch Institute

    You’re going snorkeling along a coral reef. This is biodiversity on over-drive: Every square centimeter is covered with hundreds of little creatures. You see millions upon millions of tentacle-rimmed mouths—each feeding a tiny individual coral polyp—guarded savagely by resident crabs, fish, and shrimp. Right next door, a myriad of other coral species, with added choice residents and predators, sway in the waves. Algae—the sugar-producing pals of corals—grow in and around these polyps, exchanging sugars, oxygen, and other nice things.

    Long story short, even if you spent your entire life only looking at coral reefs, you’d see tens of thousands of species.

    But coral reefs are in danger. Many have died completely. Seventy five percent of the remaining coral reefs are threatened. And why does any of this even matter in the first place? Because without coral reefs, we’re in deep, deep trouble.

    The obvious problem is that losing coral reefs means losing sea turtles, mollusks, and one third of fish species. Less obvious is the danger we are causing our own wellbeing: even though coral reefs cover less than 1 percent of the Earth’s surface, they provide goods and services worth USD 375 billion each year!

    In some countries, one out of four fish catches depends on coral reefs, providing food for tens of millions of people. ... Read More

  • People, Planet, Profit: The Rise of Triple-Bottom-Line Businesses

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    Filed in Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy on by Worldwatch Institute

    Colleen Cordes’ State of the World 2014 chapter, “The Rise of Triple-Bottom-Line Businesses,” explores the role of ethical capitalism in the quest for sustainable economies.

    Entrepreneurs are beginning to challenge business as usual, infusing ethics into the notoriously ruthless corporate world.

    “Put simply, the conventional economic model—amoral capitalism—and the willingness of so many investors and consumers to tolerate it are two of the most challenging threats to preserving a livable human future,” writes Colleen Cordes, a Worldwatch Institute State of the World 2014 contributing author, public policy consultant and director of outreach and development for The Nature Institute of Ghent, New York.

    In the last few years, however, public restlessness has been growing as the environmental and social abuses of the conventional economic model are brought to light. And while activists and labor groups, investors and consumers, and national and international nonprofit groups are vying for more corporate transparency, corporations themselves are still the critical players in accelerating the urgently needed transition to sustainable economies.

    Read the entire article, originally published on the Worldwatch Institute blog: http://blogs.worldwatch.org/people-planet-profit-benefit-corporations-push-for-responsible-business

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  • Sad (police) state of affairs…

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    Filed in Environment & Climate on by Sierra Club Canada

    You may have seen the Globe and Mail story on RCMP intelligence reports suggesting Sierra (along with Greenpeace and Tides Canada) are contemplating unlawful activity around petroleum infrastructure. As John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada’s Executive Director, states, “I’m pretty sure Tides and Sierra are not, and Greenpeace might be thinking about erecting a banner somewhere.”

    Instead, John Bennett wrote to RCMP Commissioner Paulson and offered to provide workshops on the urgent issue of climate change to him and his officers so they can understand why so many of us are exercising our rights to free speech and assembly.

    Let RCMP Commissioner Paulson know that Sierra Club Canada’s idea to give climate change workshops to the RCMP are a good idea. Read the full story and take a few seconds to send the commissioner a quick note: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/police-state

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  • Green or Greedy? Corporations’ Role in Global Sustainable Development

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    Filed in Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy on by Worldwatch Institute

    As national governments struggle to resolve pressing global challenges, corporations are positioning themselves within the United Nations framework as efficient players and crucial partners in international policy debates. But with their immense economic and political sway, can corporations contribute to development discussions without the “corporate capture” of governance?

    In the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability, contributing author Lou Pingeot, policy adviser at the Global Policy Forum, explains the need for accountability and transparency as corporations join these critical discussion.

    Already, business groups—especially large multinational corporations—have become very active in post-2015 UN initiatives. And, not surprisingly, various business reports now present economic growth and a market-based approach, rather than government regulation, as univocal solutions for poverty reduction and economic development.

    “Making the business case for sustainable development may be seen as a pragmatic approach,” writes Pingeot. “This begs the question, however, of what to do when necessary efforts for the public good do not constitute a good investment for the private sector.”

    Read the entire article, originally published on the Worldwatch Institute blog: http://blogs.worldwatch.org/green-or-greedy-corporations-role-in-global-sustainable-development/

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  • Pest Control Products Act ‘act’

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    Filed in Ecosystems, Wildlife & Biodiversity on by Sierra Club Canada

    Government members of the Federal Standing Committee on Health are using their majority to force a very quick review of the Pest Control Products Act (the law that governs the licensing of pesticides in Canada). But why the big rush? To get it over with quickly before the public knows what’s happening? One acute observer described the government members as ‘railroading’ the Act.

    Concerned? John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada’s Executive Director is preparing his remarks to the Committee members and you can too. Read more and voice your concerns today: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/PCPAalert

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  • Has China’s Economic Shift Really Ended the Commodity Super-cycle?

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    Filed in Energy , Environment & Climate , Fair Trade, Finance & The Social Economy , on by Worldwatch Institute

    The most recent economic “super-cycle,” a decades-long trend of rising commodity prices, has been influenced by the surging growth of China since the turn of this century. Now, as China begins its shift from an export-led growth model to a model based on internal investment and consumption, the super-cycle has slowed.

    The Worldwatch Institute’s Mark Konold, Caribbean Program Manager, and Jacqueline Espinal, intern with the Climate and Energy Program, state that despite this change, commodity prices experienced a notable drop in 2013 but remained high compared to historical averages, suggesting that the super-cycle may have been and continues to be driven by other substantial global factors.

    How deeply has China affected global energy markets and what factors, including environmental and energy factors, are currently playing a role in determining overall prices?

    Read the entire story, originally published on the Worldwatch Institute website (www.worldwatch.org): http://www.worldwatch.org/has-china%E2%80%99s-economic-shift-really-ended-commodity-super-cycle

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  • GreenPages Directory, Certifications and the Role of Standards

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    Filed in Ecosystems, Wildlife & Biodiversity , Energy , Environment & Climate , on by GreenPages Directory

    One way that you as a conscious consumer can have an impact on an industry is to use your purchasing power to encourage businesses to act responsibly. The GreenPages Directory can help you find the type of company you want to do business with by filtering results according to benchmarks that are most important to you. One basic method for this is to conduct a search that filters according to which certifications and labels a product or business has attained.

    The purpose of any certification or labeling program is to ensure that companies adhere to specific criteria that reach the level of quality standards set by a regulatory body for the given industry. These programs are either officially mandated or they are voluntary, and for our purposes, mandatory regulations can be thought of as legally binding rules set by the government that can include everything from the way a product is manufactured to whether or not it functions as it claims to do. In order for a government label to be mandated, however, it has to be passed by a governmental regulatory agency, folded into a law, and then enforced through inspection. Violation of these standards, for instance a meat-packing firm ... Read More

  • Green Life: Dropping a Brick in Your Toilet Has Never Felt So Good

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    Filed in Environment & Climate on by Sierra Club

    Most of us are repeat offenders when it comes to excessive toilet flushing. In fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans use more water each day by flushing the toilet than any other activity, even showering!

    Even if you are a responsible flusher, each flush is inherently wasteful. In drought-plagued California, approximately 203 million gallons of drinking water (yes, drinking water) are wasted by toilets per day. Precious drinking water is squandered while 400 homes in East Porterville, California have gone dry.

    OK, so not all of us can afford a low-flow or dual-flush toilet, let alone get our landlords to acknowledge the emails we sent about installing one, but does that mean we are doomed to a humongous water-footprint?

    No, thanks to the founders of Project Drop-A-Brick. As the name suggests, all you have to do is Drop-A-Brick in your toilet tank and you will feel 50-gallons-less-guilty each week following.

    Read the entire story in Sierra Magazine, originally published on the Sierra Club website (www.sierraclub.org): http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-6-november-december/green-life/dropping-brick-your-toilet-has-never-felt-so-good


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  • They Tore Down the Wall, We Can Stop the Pipelines

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    Filed in Energy on by Sierra Club

    Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. When I still lived in Berlin, my favourite November 9th activity was to go to the bridge where the Wall was first breached in 1989 – the Boesebruecke. I’d sit on the cold damp concrete of the bridge, pop the cork on a mini-bottle sekt (similar to champagne) and just wonder what it was like to be there that night.

    In recent years, I have become more curious about how East Germans brought down the Wall and how I can apply those lessons to my own efforts to stop the tar sands. But even after telling the ‘Fall of the Wall’ story for five years as a Berlin tour guide, I still do not fully comprehend how and why it happened. I know the steps that led to the downfall of the Wall though.

    With TransCanada applying two weeks ago to build the biggest tar sands pipeline in Canada (Energy East), I started to wonder if stopping the pipelines is our fall of the Wall.

    Stopping the pipelines from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 9 projects, to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project to Energy East will not by itself shut down the tar ... Read More