Saturday, February 6, 2010

Same tired argument against the environment. Opponents of AB 32 launch campaign to have it delayed.

When I first read about the newly launched campaign to delay the implementation of AB 32 I was immediately against it. Then, after some reflection, I decided that before I made up my mind and started writing about this issue I was going to do some reading and investigate the true impact (as best as can be projected) of the Global Warming Act on the California economy and California jobs. Please understand, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as I have also been personally impacted by the downturn in our current economy. So I really wanted to understand the truth. What I learned not only affirmed my support of AB 32 but also helped me understand why it is an extremely important law for our economy as well as our planet.

In 2006 California made history; and a significant contribution to our environment; when the state passed AB 32; The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This important piece of legislations had a handful of predictable opponents who were the same group that have consistently fought against clean air and water quality laws. Highly conservative republican politicians and conservative activists are now launching a ballot campaign to suspend California's landmark global-warming law, in what they hope will serve as a showcase for a national backlash against climate regulations.

AB 32 opponents say they have "solid commitments" of nearly $600,000 to pay signature gatherers for a November initiative aimed at delaying curbs on the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants and factories until the state's unemployment rate drops. They propose suspending the law until California unemployment reached 5.5%. They just want to “delay” it, which is another way of saying “kill” it. This group is even blaming current job losses on AB 32, but new emission reductions don’t even begin until 2012, and then are gradually phased in by 2020.

What opponents to AB 32 have failed to consider (or chose to ignore) is that the law has already begun to have a positive impact on jobs and growth in California. By adopting policies against dangerous global warming pollution, the state has made it clear that they want to become the home of new “green” jobs and “green” businesses and be a leader of the new economy. Simply put, AB 32 has already stimulated investments, innovation, efficiency and economic benefits. Business have begun to invest in clean technology, re-tooling equipment, training, education plus other measure that help reduce greenhouse gases pollutants and which help the economy.

Let’s give this discussion a bit of perspective. In California, as the economy slowed between 2007 and 2008, total employment fell one percent. However, green jobs continued to grow five percent. (according to the latest data, green jobs are growing 2.5 times faster than the overall economy). President Obama has made clean tech a cornerstone of his economic recovery plan, even making a reference to California’s efforts in his State of the Union speech last week.

Another view comes from Dr James Fine, an economist and policy scientist from the Environmental Defense Fund. “....based on projections, the net economic effect is even likely to be positive." Dr. Fine also mentioned health benefits, such as a decrease in premature deaths, a decrease in incidences of asthma, and a decrease in the number of lost workdays. Moreover, Dr. Fine predicts an extra 109,000 jobs in 2020 when implementing the bill compared to “business as usual.”

Let’s consider some other facts:

• A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts listed California as the nation’s leading state in clean energy businesses (10,209), clean energy jobs (125,390) and clean energy venture capital funding ($6.5 billion for 2006-2008)

• The average Californian today uses 40 percent less electricity per year than the average American. Saving electricity saves money.

• California’s landmark Clean Car Law, part of AB 32’s solutions, is giving consumers cleaner, more fuel efficient cars, reducing dependence on foreign oil and helping drivers save money at the pump. And it will soon become the Federal standard; 

• From GED’s to PHD’s, our community college and university students are demanding courses and degrees to make them competitive for jobs in this new 21st century economy; and
• California boasts five of the nation’s top 10 cities for clean tech investment: San Jose, Berkeley, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Diego.

And we’re not just talking about a bunch of tree hugger here. The state’s largest utility, PG&E, was an early supporter. Apple dropped out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when the Chamber opposed climate change legislation. Innovative companies such as Google, one of our fastest growing companies, also support AB 32. Small business also is on board. Small Business California strongly supports the law, as does the Green Chamber of Commerce. So contrary to what some would have you believe; a Green California does not mean job loss. California has the opportunity to revolutionize its economy by becoming the leader and incubator for green technology and innovation.

When will the invalid rhetoric of “Jobs vs. Environment” ever end? Guess what boys and girls; its not one or the other; we can have both. Green = Jobs = Economic Growth in California and around the globe. It also means decreased costs in energy, insurance, medical costs, missed workdays and a whole host of additional, tangible, monetary benefits. But most importantly, staying true to green means taking care of the most precious gift and resource we have; our planet. If you destroy your home and make it barely inhabitable, it’s a little difficult to care about much else.

Sources: California League of Conservation Voters; Fran Pavley at Capital Weekly; Margot Roosevelt at Los Angeles Times; John Seiler at Cal Watchdog; Molly Peterson at Southern California Public Radio; David Crane at Fox & Hounds

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Boat Made From Recycled Bottles Draws Attention to Global Trash Problem - ABC News

From the lips of the banking heir David de Rothschild; we need to stop thinking of trash and waste and start seeing it as a resource. Well said, David. Of the triple RRR's; Renew, Recycle & Reuse; Reuse seems to be the one most frequently overlooked. Case in point; I stopped using plastic water bottles many months back however prior to that I was diligent about recycling them. I thought that was the best that could be done until I saw this video. "Plastiki" (AWESOME name!) is a 60 foot catamaran kept afloat with plastic water bottles. 12,000 plastic waster bottles filled with carbon dioxide.

Apparently the carbon dioxide make the plastic incredibly strong. The other components of the boat are also repurposed items including a sail from recycled plastic instead of cloth and an irrigation pipe as the mast. Very, very clever. The boat launched yesterday from San Francisco on its way to Australia. The trip will take 3 months and travel approximately 11,000 miles; some of it over very treacherous water. They aren't sure if the boat will make it. The driving initiative for this project is to create more awareness and attention around the global trash problem. So, on the journey the crew plans to travel to areas in the ocean where currents have created large accumulations of garbage (predominately plastic). One of these trash clusters covers a space as large as Texas times two. That's a serious junk yard. Yuck! It will be interesting to track the progress of this boat made from reused material and plastic bottles to see how it fairs in the sea. Sorry; couldn't resist. I wish them the best and hope they are successful in both their mission to drive awareness on the magnitude of the problem of global trash as well as arriving safely in Australia.

Though this art work may not be quite Picasso or Renoir they are very interesting & highly creative pieces using recycled material as the medium

Nick Gentry decided to use old floppy disks for a purpose, other than just taking up space. Nick’s art portfolio includes some really cool mixed media paintings, most incorporating old floppy disks.

John T Unger's "La Siren II" was inspired to do bottle cap mosaics by Haitian ritual flags, in which detailed images are realized entirely through the use of sequins. Each cap is sorted by brand or color, washed, dried, punched, partially crimped and finally nailed in overlapping scales to create a feeling of depth, light and shadow. Decorative nail heads emulate the texture of seed beads often used to reinforce the sequins.

Blue River by John Dahlsen; is one of the first he developed of these new works in 2003 using recycled plastic bags as the primary medium. This work is a slight departure from his more recognizable assemblage works in which he used plastics and other detritus collected from the Eastern Australian seaboard.

Chronos, by Nadia Iliffe, is built around a theme of trying to physically stop the inevitable passage of time. This metal sculpture was created using a combination of copper and antique clock parts.

Boris Bally is a trained metal smith who uses materials from scrap yards and thrift stores, as well as precious metals to create jewelry, furniture and household utensils, "While it takes great skill to make gold and silver into beautiful things, transforming trash into something beautiful is the ultimate challenge because it takes more skill and imagination to do it."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wernher von Braun

We are all on a spaceship, and that spaceship is Earth. Four billion passenger... and no skippers.
--Wernher von Braun

Sociable Sustainability

Some of you already know this but I recently enrolled at UCLA in their Certification Program in Sustainability for Business Leadership and Renewable Energy. I know; it sounds a bit "Snoooooozzzzeeee" but its not and I'm really excited about learning the technical side of this biz as well as the multiple of application to community and our world. I just completed my first class titled Sustainability in Social Media. It was an interesting class. Not a lot of new material for me on the social side but interesting applications for the green world. The class included some guest speakers including GreenLAGirl (local Green Blogger Celeb) and the founder of LivingHomes who created a line of homes that feature sustainable materials and energy systems. He was a Lego fan as a child just like I was (mutual geeks). The biggest message I took away from the class (and why I'm sharing this); and one that is not exclusive to green business; is that a topic like sustainability is highly passionate and a catalyst to unite people. Its a sweet spot for social media because people want to learn about it and talk about it. Its viral in its nature. The trick is it to make it interesting and not "Snoooooozzzzeeee". Also, the message needs to be honest, genuine and help people understand this space. Agents of BS; step off. Again.... not much different than any social media campaign but with the green biz there is a lot of true, knowledgeable, fierce advocates. So any greenwashing; which will be found out, talked out and trashed out before you know it; need not apply. The flip side is that this is the same group that will catapult good ideas to the top. All in all; not so bad.

So for those of you thinking; "who the hell cares about this"; social media is just a mirror of social groups, circles and organizations. That means neighbors, friends, family, chums at the local pub, schoolmates, folks you wave to for whatever reason; etc..; its digital word of mouth. And those of us/you that are really concerned about our planet (Momma Earth); our limited recourses, our country's economic state, the legacy to our children, our country's position in global issues and, most importantly, our sustainability as a species on this planet; its time to wake up. So what better way to wake up than to inform the ones we love. So please use what bit of knowledge I've learned thus far (much more coming as I complete more classes; I hope) to promote your individual "green" ideas. We're all in this together with the same goal. But at last you know the truth; I'm a geek. My kids refer to me as the "ultimate geek". But who asked them anyway! :-)

sustainable |səˈstānəbəl|adjectiveable to be maintained at a certain rate or level : sustainable fusion reactions.Ecology (esp. of development, exploitation, or agriculture) conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural to be upheld or defended : sustainable definitions of good educational practice.DERIVATIVESsustainability |səˌstānəˈbilitē| nounsustainably |-blē| adverb