As an entrepreneur, strategic communications professional, and policy wonk, I've worked on social innovations in the for-profit and non-profit world, helping to develop campaigns and solutions to social and natural resource challenges.

I'm constantly tracking and analyzing what make us as humans, inspired to act and respond to new ideas. This is where I share my thoughts and notes. 


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Watershed Radio


 An exciting public radio project is blending new and traditional media systems to highlight the important concept that environmental issues are vital to people irrespective of the governing lines we draw on maps. 

Tackling River Traffic Pollution
Report by Ann Murray (Listen Below)

Shared reporting planned for Ohio Basin ecosystem from reports on Louisville's Public Media WFPL the driving force behind the Ohio River Radio Consortium.  Additionally the article reviews how the Consortium is incorporating public education, conference events, and stories to tell the stories of the Ohio river ecosystem.

“What we’re trying to do is raise awareness of the fact that environmental issues don’t stop at state borders,” said Kristin Espeland Gourlay, managing editor at WFPL. “What we put into the air from power plants in Louisville flows north and east, and run-off from a farm in Pittsburgh runs down stream to Cincinnati and Cairo, Ill.”

The project, which was turned down for funding by CPB’s initiative supporting local journalism centers, is moving ahead after securing grants from three foundations. It will produce on-air and online reporting from journalists throughout the watershed that reaches from New York to Tennessee.


Mayor's Conference in Copenhagen: Featuring Seattle's Nickels

I've featured video from Ever Green Films before in a previous post, and their series of videos from Copenhagen continues to showcase the quality of their production and the interesting angle on the Pacific Northwest's leadership to create a regionalclean energy economy.  This video features the conference of Mayor's at COP15.


Next Up, A Major Environmental Dilemma

The opening line of this video says it all. "Next up, a major environmental dilemma...".  For quite some time I've considered the potential communications conundrum presented by the clean technology economy's need for raw resources, and the very clear fact that many clean energy advocates don't consider the supply chain of natural resources for building wind turbines, solar panels, and hybrid cars.  I've always asked, what will environmentalists do when they realize what kind of process and materials are needed for producing a clean energy infrastructure? While triple-bottom line systems, closed loop manufacturing, and sustainable design and materials sourcing have been a major part of the sustainability movement as brought forward by leaders such as Bill McDonough, these principles have primarily taken a back seat in the manufacturing of new clean energy technologies. 

So it was only a matter of time that the media considered the contradiction that could provide a dilemma for environmental advocates. This report on PBS News Hour is the first I have seen that provides a in-depth look at the environmental impact of the critical rare earth elements that are the natural resource supply for clean energy manufacturing in China. 

While a strong report and a very important one to consider, this story could have been more comprehensive by examining the percentages of rare earth metals used in manufacturing of non-clean energy products.  Additionally, the report doesn't fully expand on the lack of environmental regulations for manufacturing facilities in China. While very hard to quantify at this stage, the counter point that was not leveled in this report is the consideration of the environmental benefits gained by decreasing our carbon emissions and the impacts of industrial process used in developing conventional energy sources. 

If it is inevitable that we use rare earth materials in our production of the items needed for society, there is an argument to be made that while we switch other process toward more sustainable materials, the clean energy economy may demand less and impact fewer than did previous systems of production in the industrial revolution.  The verdict is still out whether or not there is a balance to be achieved. 

None the less, I predict that clean energy companies will be pushed more in the new decade to begin sourcing their materials from recycled and reprocessed sources, rather than building the new green economy on the very philosophy that moved our society toward our current dilemma; progress is worth the cost we pay both in human and natural capital. Hopefully we won't have to re-learn that lesson again.


See You In Copenhagen

Ok, well, maybe not. I'll be enjoying Copenhagen's two weeks of events from afar and hoping for a collective direction on climate solutions. But the See You in Copenhagen ad campaign sponsored by the UN Foundation give you a sense of the momentum going into the Conference.  See You in Copenhagen is a campaign of short films and ads produced by Found Object Films, in cooperation with the UN Foundation and to raise public awareness and support civic engagement in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the video featured above, Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, introduces us to the prototype electric vehicles that will be part of the sustainable transportation infrastructure his company is building to replace the world's dependence on conventional fossil fuels. He speaks of the importance of the world agreeing to carbon cuts, and his company's potential role in creating the technology that will help move transportation away from carbon emissions.  Read more about the business model of Better Place from Earth2Tech and from Better Palce's website.


Solazyme and Algae Top Biofuels Digest Hottest 50 List

Solazyme's ascension to the top of Biofuels Digest's Hottest Companies in Bioenergy for 2009-2010 is not a sign of things to come, but a sign of what is.  Algae as a source for biofuels production is very much the promising bioenergy feedstock of the year, with seven algae companies on the list and many more emerging.  Celulosic ethanol companies (19 total companies) and "drop-in" renewable biofuels (15 companies) such as biobutanol, renewable diesel, green gasoline and renewable jet fuel represented the majority of the field.

One hint to why Solazyme is making in-roads in the marketplace prior to proving a full scale commercialization model is its foray into the government market.  In September of 2009, Solazyme announced that is signed a U.S. Department of Defense contract to develop Navy Fuels from algae. At the most recent presentation of The Energy Conversation in Washington, D.C. funded by the Department of Defense the topic of the session was, Can Algae Replace Petroleum as a Clean, Low Carbon, Homegrown Fuel for our Military and More? While the presentations didn't cover the full spectrum of the algae market, the synthesis of the presentations yielded one conclusion, government funding and beta testing, especially with water and algae connected agencies, such as the Navy, starts to make a lot of practical sense.

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