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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Thursday
Dec032009

Videos from Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum 

On December 2nd the White House hosted the Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum.  Noteable is the White House's use of the live streaming technology, tied to Facebook.  Check out whitehouse.gov/live at any time to watch meetings and events going on in the White House.


Part I

 

Part II

 

Part III

Thursday
Dec032009

All Roads Lead to Copenhagen

No matter the outcome, there are a lot of people heading to Copenhagen.  Everyone brings a message from each one of their corners of the world.  While we see this in the United Nations on a regular basis, this is truly a unique event.  There are many individuals, in addition to organizations that will be an important part of raising awareness to the issues and contributing to the debate.

 

Walk, Bike, or Document the Talk

Many will arrive by plane.  But some will walk, some will bike, and some will just travel via the internet to get to Copenhagen. Two amazing adventurers that I've recently met via Climate Ride 2009, will be going (or hoping to go) to Copenhagen with adventure as their vehicle to raise awareness.  In the video above, David Kroodsma is vying to bring his story of biking 21,000 miles through North and South America to raise awareness about climate change.  I'm supporting his campaign to be the ambassador for the Hopenhagen project as a reporter in partnership with The Huffington Post.  Be sure to vote!

Fellow Climate Rider and world famous ocean rower Roz Savage has walked with four other women from Great Britain, with a ferry passage across the English Channel, to Belgium to board the Climate Express to Copenhagen.  Check out the photos from their inspiring walk and follow Roz as she blogs from the road

Lastly, students from Dickinson College, my alma mater, will embark on a unique class room experience in the coming days, to document the Copenhagen process as part of the class, from Kyoto to Copenhagen and follow their photostream.

Making Their Mark at Home

While some people will be making their own mark by arriving in unique ways, others in the U.S. are making their mark at home.  The Washington Post today covered some internal wrangling inside the United States government with the story about a "Controversial economist probing cost of proposed new air pollution rule " specifically "an economist working at the Office of Management and Budget has raised questions about whether a new air pollution rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would impose too high a cost on coal-fired power plants."

With Secretary Chu's remarks from the Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum in regards to coal's place in the future energy portfolio of the US (he predicted being able to include coal as part of the energy mix and reducing 90% of its carbon emissions at the same time), Copenhagen clearly won't be the only place where the debate will be taking place (see video Part I above).

Wednesday
Dec022009

The Story of Climate Change Drama

Tiger Woods and the climate change discussion have a lot in common.  Drama.  It's a sure sign that climate change has reached the international stage. Drama and intrigue are now part of the climate change international debate, surely they have been for some time, but now the rest of the world is joining in. With five days till the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference starts (better known as COP15) the noise continues to increase and there are too many notable announcements to mention.  Most importantly, the "debate" part of the discussion is really starting to fire up on the grand stage.

There have been a gambit of interesting developments over the last few weeks.  The Obama administration changed the game by announcing a U.S. commitment of some level (a 17% reduction below 2005 carbon levels to start the conversation) toward carbon reduction and that he'd attend the negotiations on the way to his Nobel Prize acceptance event. China followed up with their own announcement of working toward a 45% reduction in emissions.

"Climate Gate" precipitated by computer hackers, in which stolen emails have purportedly exposed scientists as hiding facts from the public, vied for the spotlight.  British scientists responded as to its impact on COP15 while others look to dispel the myths of the espionage. It has been at the lead story of most Fox news shows over the last two weeks, but even on Fox News' Bill O'Rilley show last night, Fox News anchor John Stossel said the controversy, "doesn't prove anything about global warming" and that it wasn't "the smoking gun".  O'Rilley also added his thoughts that action on climate change was an important step.  He also suggested that only god will be able to deal with climate change. Stossel a clear skeptic of climate change theory did say that pollution was a critical item to focus on.  While the "climate gate" concept will linger through December and conflagrate the new responses by climate change deniers, this segment of O'Reilly effectively signals that the "climate gates" are coming to a close.  In searching, I haven't been able to find the video on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly's site, or on the inter tube. 

 

 

A different discourse has emerged recently amongst environmentalists that exposes the concern of some related to the cap & trade proposals.  Be sure to watch the video (above) and check out the website of "The Story of Cap & Trade" released by The Story of Stuff Project & Free Range Studios, in partnership with Climate Justice Now! and the Durban Group for Climate Justice, two leading international networks of climate justice advocates.  A follow up to the international internet sensation The Story of Stuff, The Story of Cap & Trade raises some serious questions and opens its own climate gates, or at least gives a really visible perspective on what kind of debates are taking place in the meetings leading up to and at COP15.

What is most important in all of this, is that the debate is still well and alive, and it will continue well after the next few weeks. 

Friday
Nov062009

A Week In Review - Sustainability

Local (DC - Maryland - Virginia)

D.C. - The Answer to Your Burning Recycling Questions

 
As a D.C. resident and someone involved in the sustainability sector, I'm constantly asked if D.C. actually recycles.  The City Paper does the dirty work to follow the paper trail in the cover story - Together Forever. The article does a good job at illuminating the complexities of enforcement and the loop holes in the private contractor system.  Both as a resident of the city, and a business owner with experience in dealing with landlords and their need to negotiate with their haulers, its true, recycling in D.C. is more complicated than one could imagine.  With out a doubt, the business model needs to be there for haulers, however, one item that is missing in all of this is that landfill costs are going to increase over the long-haul, and it would be better to decrease the volume in the waste stream to avoid the long term consequences of having too much trash volume and not enough disposal capacity, let alone the environmental impact externalities that come with waste management.   Short term costs are always first and foremost, but the city might want to consider the long term costs of not performing enforcement and better waste stream engagement.

 

Baltimore/Maryland - 9th Most Toxic City/Top 10 in Sustainability



Forbes announced their listing of most toxic U.S. cities this past week, and Baltimore did the best by showing up as the 9th most toxic city in the United States. However, the more interesting fact is the number of cities listed in the top 10 most toxic that also showed up in the top 10 most sustainable in SustainLane's 2008 US City Sustainability Rankings. Portland, Oregon (10th most toxic, 1st in sustainability), Chicago (3rd most toxic, 4th most sustainable), Philadelphia (5th most most toxic, 8th most sustainable), and Baltimore (9th most toxic, 10th most sustainable).  I was most impressed to see that, with a history as a heavy industrial port, Seattle may be doing the best in the top sustainability cities, ranking 3rd in sustainability and as the 36th most toxic city in America.  So that should settle the dispute between Seattle and Portland.


National

The Green Economy is Coming - Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) & Climate Legislation


With healthcare bipartisanship in question and climate change legislation playing second fiddle, a number of legislators have been moving to push through meaningful legislation prior to the Copenhagen conference in December. Sen John Kerry (D-Mass.) stepped to the podium with an Independent and a Republican to introduce new climate legislation the same day Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) moved the bill she co-authored with Kerry.  The Boxer-Kerry bill vote was labeled as "ignoring the GOP" as the 11-1 vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee involved 7 republicans not participating on the vote. 

The news that has been making its way through out the internet keys in on the remarks by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the joint press conference with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as they offered a new bi-partisan option.

I'd offer that the video of Graham "rebuking Republicans" is not so much a rebuke of Republicans, even though it sounds nice as a headline.  Instead, it may be evidence of a way to explain that climate change solutions are also economic solutions. The reality is that the new energy economy is part of the solution portfolio to our domestic and global economic challenges.   Interestingly, this messaging framework, posed by many multi-stakeholder groups working on clean energy during the last ten years, is now starting to get national recognition, as the Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold outlined this week in the article, Environmental groups at odds over new tack in climate fight.

 

Global Business

Nike Announces the Latest "Considered" Line Products



I'm sure Nike's announcement this week about its Considered product line wasn't because of a little post-it note from an on-line customer service representative saying, "comment from D.C. customer, - "bring back the considered line".  But considering my live chat message with a Nike representative was one of the first times I'd made a suggestion to a massive corporation based on my consumer preferences, I'd like to think so. Kudos to Nike for implementing my suggestion so fast! 

What one needs to consider is that just like WalMart's ability to shift the global supply chain toward sustainability, Nike has made some incredible moves to incorporate sustainability into their product lines and their corporate environment.   Ignoring everything else, the last pair of Nike Considered trail running shoes I owned, took me hundreds of miles by foot (not car) and allowed me to get out and run tens of miles of trails over a two year period.  I'm glad to see the Considered line surviving during the economic downturn.

Wednesday
Nov042009

Carbon Watch Series Launches Two Months Prior to Copenhagen

 

With only two months remaining till the world comes together in Copenhagen, Denmark for the most anticipated negotiations on global environmental issues since Kyoto, PBS' popular program FRONTLINE/World in coordination with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) has launched "Carbon Watch" - a multi-platform "investigative collaboration that will track the evolving, soon-to-be trillion-dollar global carbon market."

Now, more so than before, the world's attention will be focused on the lead up to the COP15.  As a result, the media and infotube noise will increase with each week, possibly reaching a pitch not yet experienced in the climate discussion.  Across the board it's quite evident that there are more questions than answers going into Copenhagen. As the world stumbles toward a revision of our carbon diet, it's not surprising that media coverage will highlight these conflicts and the inherent complexity of a global policy framework.

Frontline's timing and partnership with CIR is a good example of the shift, from highlighting the larger macro issues of climate change to a media focused on the details and implications of a global carbon market.  It's a much needed shift, although laiden with the possibility of creating more confusion amongst the public. For the everyday U.S. citizen, the complexities of health care reform are going to seem simple in comparison to the complexity of a global carbon market.  As people get fed an enormous amount of information over the coming months it will be up to communications professionals to translate what Copenhagen means for a world so fundamentally reliant on carbon expenditures.  For the last few years, there has been quite a shift in awareness around climate change issues.  While strides have been made in those regards, the question at hand for governing bodies, advocates, business and others involved is, how will the world audience react to digesting the complexities of our natural resource demands as the debate is thrust into our daily lives.  If our own governing bodies are an indicator of the human capacity to come to conclusions, I suspect Copenhagen will also represent our on-going struggle to sift through the cognitive dissonance on climate change.   There is no doubt that the media plays an important role in helping all of us not just watch the debate, but participate in it by learning what it all means.   Clearly as Carbon Watch highlights, even if an agreement were to come together in Copenhagen, there is still a lot of work that will need to be done after the fact.  With an agreement considered to be far off and most likely not going to happen in Copenhagen, this time period might be best seen as an opportunity to give a crash course to the world on the issues at hand.  

Maybe we'll be so lucky to have Planet Money and This American Life partner to simplify the global carbon crisis like they've done on the global financial crisis. Until then, check out the World Resource Institute's recent article Following the Money in an International Climate Agreement by Maria Athena Ballesteros.

 

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