Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

21.1.06

Shell 2025 scenarios highlight vulnerability of the globalised world: the EU "has been living in a fool's paradise for too long" concerning energy policy


Shell 2025 scenarios highlight vulnerability of the globalised world

EurActiv.com, 13 January 2006 - Energy company Royal Dutch Shell presented its Global Scenarios to 2025 at an evening debate organised by Friends of Europe at the Bibliotheque Solvay in Brussels on 11 January 2006. Shell has been producing these scenarios for more than 30 years and has inspired other companies who need a long-term outlook for business decisions, to do the same. In his introduction Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer emphasised that his company does not use these scenarios as forecasts but as possible narratives about the future to gain insight into the global business environment for the next 20 years.

Issues:

Author of the scenarios, Albert Bressand, introduced the debate by pointing to the "dual crisis of security and trust" that has changed the world since 2001. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, the instability in the Middle East, issues of energy security and the collapse of failed states have led to a security crisis. The bursting of the internet bubble and several corporate scandals (Enron, Parmalat) have created a new wave of distrust in the market. The state has responded to this dual crisis by taking on a new role of coercion and regulation to restore security and trust.

The Shell report identifies three key drivers of world development:

  • market incentives (efficiency)
  • the force of community (social cohesion and justice)
  • coercion and regulation by the state (security)
Based on the interplay and trade-offs between these drivers, the report identifies three possible future worlds (the 'Trilemma Triangle'):
  • "low trust globalisation": more globalisation and market liberalisation but also more coercive states and regulators; trust problem not resolved
  • "open doors": heightened globalisation and more cohesive civil societies crisis of trust and security has been resolved; use of the precautionary principle, use of more soft power
  • "flags": states rally around the flag, trust fragmented, national societies split into diverse groups; efficiency and the market take a backseat to security and solidarity, more protectionism
These three scenarios were also used to calculate possible average growth rates for each. The "Open Doors" economy would have the highest growth (3.8%), "Low Trust Globalisation would lead to 3.1% growth and "Flags" would be seriously lower (2.6%).

The report looks at the implications of the three scenarios for the US, China and the European Union. The European Union would fare best in the "Open Doors" ('Schengen Plus'). In the "low trust globalisation" scenario, Bressand sees an "acrimonious reassessment" of the EU with à la carte Europe, and the "Flags" world would lead to 25 states on diverging courses.

The energy chapter of the Scenarios 2025 report is particularly interesting. 2004 has been an "energy watershed", according to the report. "The energy sector appears to have entered a new era, as renewed worries are increasingly expressed about the long-term balance between energy demand and supply". Three major discontinuities have led to this deeper structural change:

  • the relinking of global economic growth and energy consumption (the decreasing trend of energy growth and GDP growth has been reversed)
  • uncertainties over reserves and energy security: the report is surprisingly open about the seriousness of the "peak oil debate" ("the increased risk of reaching a peak in oil supplies in the relatively near future has been debated for decades.However, the failure of previous warnings to materialise is no reason to dismiss the new ones")
  • the emergence of carbon as a commodity, related to the climate change issue which gets a lot of attention in the report
Positions:

During the debate, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt emphasised the new energy insecurity. Joking that God must have been in a bad mood when He allocated energy sources, Bildt highlighted the danger of most of the current energy reserves being in geopolitically sensitive regions such as the Middle East and Russia.

Polish historian and MEP Bronislaw Geremek warned against Russia's ambitions to revive its global power position by using its energy wealth. He also demanded more thinking about the future of democracy. "In 2025, the biggest economy in the world could well be China, a non-democratic state," Geremek said. The Polish former foreign minister also challenged Commissioner Piebalgs. "The Commission has been unable to formulate an energy security policy, in terms of security of dependence".

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs defended the EU's renewed attention towards a common energy policy. "Energy has moved high up the EU's external relations agenda", Piebalgs stated. He also pointed to the different dialogues that have been set up with energy producers to secure stable relations.

Carl Bildt reacted to the commissioner by saying that the EU "has been living in a fool's paradise for too long" concerning energy policy. He also underlined the danger of increasing competition between nation states for dwindling energy resources.

Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer addressed the need to develop "green fossil fuels", using the example of the use of "green coal" with CO2 storage.

Other EU leaders have also been pushing recently for a stronger and more unified European energy policy as a result of high oil prices and the geopolitical challenges of energy policy (Ukraine-Russia 'gas war'). In a recent interview with Der Spiegel, new German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "It has become clear to us [...] how what is really an economic issue, namely the purchase and delivery of gas, is deeply political".

Latest & next steps:

  • The Commission is preparing a new Green Paper on European energy policy
  • EU leaders are expected to discuss the issue of a common European energy policy at their Spring Summit meeting in March
Links

20.1.06

Is Your Computer Killing You? Ten ways that the computer can hurt your body, mind, and the environment, and what you can do to minimize the damage.

InformationWeek

Is Your Computer Killing You?

Ten ways that the computer can hurt your body, mind, and the environment, and what you can do to minimize the damage.

By Lee Hamrick,  Small Business Pipeline
Jan. 18, 2006
URL:
http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=177101554

You would think being forced to cancel a ski trip because of a work emergency would be punishment enough. But it's not. Toiling (or even playing) away on your computer is cramping more than your style — it's hurting your body and your mind. It's not doing your planet much good, either.

Rest assured, hard-core computer fans, we're not going to suggest that you abandon your dual-core screamer and take up knitting. This is an online tech journal, after all. Just as we recognize that automobiles can be dangerous but still love a music-blaring ride in a souped-up ragtop, we want you to know the dangers of computing — and how to avoid them.

Read on for the top ten ways computing can hurt you — but watch your posture, OK?

1. Repetitive Stress Injuries
When the Internet was in its infancy, a new generation of computer users began working on their keyboards for 15 hours at a stretch. Then something strange started happening. Some employees began complaining about pain that wouldn't go away. Worse, the pain seemed to be aggravated by using the computer.

"Bah, humbug!" sneered their managers (and peers), counting up their stock options. "These people are whiners and slackers."

How wrong they were. Repetitive stress injuries, including tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even Blackberry Thumb are now accepted and frequently treated workplace problems.

The cause? Repetition. It turns out we weren't meant to perform the same actions over and over again. Our bodies, like our minds, crave variety. Repeat the same motion too many times (such as moving your wrist side-to-side while using a mouse), and your body can react with inflamed muscles, compromised joint health, and constant pain.

Your Best Defense: Fortunately, protecting yourself against repetitive stress injuries is as simple as sitting the right way, taking breaks, and stretching.

Health professionals are unanimous in saying you must take a break from computing. Some say every half hour, some say every hour. Pick the one that's most compatible with your work style and stick with it. Stand up, stretch, and walk around. Deliver in person a message you might have ordinarily e-mailed. Work at home? Walk to the mailbox and back.

Try some exercises and stretches designed to target RSI trouble spots. I like the ones at My Daily Yoga's Web site.

Here's an example:

Opening The Mid-Back
Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and left hand on your right shoulder.

Breathe into the area between your shoulder blades. On the exhale, bring the lower arms perpendicular to the floor, the palms facing each other.

Stretch the fingers up, and on the next exhale, raise the elbows up to shoulder height.

Hold for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.



Text and animated graphic courtesy of
My Daily Yoga

That's just one exercise in the sequence; see My Daily Yoga for the full RSI routine. Also see the site's RSI Prevention Checklist.

And don't forget to use comfortable and ergonomically enhanced equipment such as ergonomic keyboards, trackball alternatives, and adjustable chairs. For some examples, see our overview of innovative input devices.

These are all preventative measures. If you're already experiencing pain or numbness in your fingers, hands, elbows, arms, or shoulders, seek medical help now.

2. Extra Weight

Desk jockeys beware. While a desk job might be the stuff blue-collar workers dream of, it's also a great way to pack on the pounds. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported in August, 2005, that a man who sits at a desk for six hours a day or more is
more than twice as likely to be overweight than those with more active jobs.


That paunch packs a serious punch.

In case you've been trapped in a cave for the past 40 years, here's some news: Overweight people are at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, and a litany of other health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

"During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 1985 only a few states were participating in CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and providing obesity data. In 1991, four states had obesity prevalence rates of 15-19 percent and no states had rates at or above 20 percent. In 2004, 7 states had obesity prevalence rates of 15-19 percent; 33 states had rates of 20-24 percent; and 9 states had rates more than 25 percent."


U.S. Obesity Map 2004, courtesy of the
CDC

Your Best Defense: Move it. It can be as simple as wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day. For those with serious weight control issues, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends an average daily amount of exercise equal to one and a half hours.

While that may seem exhausting, take heart. Everything you do counts toward that goal. Take the stairs, take a ten-minute walk during lunch, rake leaves, walk the dog. Keep a diary of your activity level for two weeks and adjust accordingly.

Dieting can aid in your goal to stay trim, but dieting without exercise is proving to be a short-term solution only.

3. Laptop-Induced Shoulder And Back Injuries

Laptops are the devil. They cause cramped finger positioning while keying, the pointer control options are awkward, their position on your lap can induce a crooked neck, and their portability means you're always on call. But did you know "Laptop Shoulder" may be the new "Blackberry Thumb"?

A laptop computer can weigh quite a bit on its own — anywhere from four to ten pounds. Add in the AC adaptor, several printed reports, a cell phone, a PDA, keys, business cards, etc. — and before you know it, your portable computer isn't so portable. Nevertheless, we sling them on our collective shoulders and take off where work demands.

That's bad news for your shoulder and back. Picture yourself in the airport security line: two hours with 20 pounds of pressure bearing down on your right shoulder. What you think may be tension is in fact an injured muscle.

And let's not forget the wrenching movements we make when slinging our laptop bags over our shoulders. We underestimate the weight and the risk.

Your Best Defense: Lift slowly and carefully when picking up your laptop. Consider a notebook backpack, which distributes the weight evenly between both shoulders, or invest in a rolling laptop carrier. Finally, when rolling, push your laptop (and your luggage) in front of you instead of dragging it behind. You're in better control that way and less likely to injure yourself.

4. Eyestrain

Once, in the heat of battle during an online game of Quake, I went so long without blinking that my contact lens became stuck to my cornea. Not pleasant.

As it turns out, it's not such an unusual thing. When we concentrate intently on what is on our computer monitor, we blink less, reducing the natural lubrication in our eyes.

Further, staring at a computer monitor is in itself a challenge. Although what we see on the screen may appear to be constant, it isn't. Each monitor has a refresh rate that continually updates the image. While this update appears seamless, it isn't — and your eyes know that. They register this flicker, and that's a major contributor to eyestrain for those spending long hours on the screen. Don't think your fancier LCD screen will eliminate the problem, either. Both LCD and CRT monitors have refresh rates.

What's more, your eyes aren't designed to focus on something two feet away from you for hours at a time. Our eyes perform best looking at things 20 feet away or more. To look at something closer, your eyes turn inward and your pupil constricts. This puts strain on your eye muscles and cranial nerves, which can result in symptoms ranging from sore, itchy eyes to blurred vision to increased sensitivity to light. While these symptoms often disappear with rest, double vision while driving home in afternoon traffic is a seriously dangerous situation.

Your Best Defense: For every hour spent on your computer, take a five-minute eye break. Look out a window and focus on something far away. Walk around and give your eyes a chance to rest.

Make a conscious effort to blink. If you find you're still troubled with dry eyes, try moisturizing drops. One caveat: Look for drops that are made for moisturizing, not for getting rid of redness.

See OhioHealth's Web site for more computer eyestrain reducing tips.

If you follow these steps and still experience ongoing pain, difficulty focusing, or any other problems with your eyes, see an optometrist.

5. Poor Circulation

E-mail, e-commerce, e-zines, and now e-thrombosis.

It sounds scary because it is. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) — blood clots forming in the legs and then moving to the lungs — is the condition that scared the e-tickets out of air travelers a few years ago.


The bad news is that it can happen to computer users. The good news is that it doesn't happen that often.

In 2003, the European Respiratory Journal reported a case in which a young New Zealander had developed DVT after sitting at his computer for more than 18 hours a day. That's a long stretch, but not unimaginable.

Your Best Defense: Again, step away from your computer. Stretch your legs, flex your ankles. If you feel soreness or tightness in your legs, do some light exercises to get the blood flowing.

YogaEverywhere.com has, as you might suspect, yoga exercises you can do everywhere — including specific exercises for your feet and legs.

6. Back And Neck Damage From Bad Posture

We must place the blame for our aching necks and backs squarely on our own shoulders. In short, we slouch. Too many of us literally hunker down at our computer, arching our backs and either lowering or raising our chins to see the monitor. If you've ever typed while your elbows resting on your thighs, you're doing yourself a disservice.


First the neck: If you look either down or up to view your monitor, you're putting an unnatural strain on your cervical spine for long periods of time. That leads to inflammation and possible permanent injury.

Now your back: Slumping over your keyboard or crouching down means you're crunching your back. Between your vertebrae are discs that act as cushions or shock absorbers, keeping the vertebrae from rubbing together and preventing nerves from being squeezed in the process. Too much pressure for too long can cause these discs to slip out of place, and that means pain — serious, get-me-to-the-doctor-right-now pain. Less serious injuries can be caused by pulled muscles.

Your Best Defense: Posture, posture, posture. Sit erect while at your computer. Pretend to be balancing a book on your head.

Your workspace is as important to your efficiency as which processor you use. Keep your monitor high enough so that you don't lower your head to view the screen. And invest (or persuade your boss to invest) in ergonomically correct furniture — the expense today will save medical bills tomorrow.


Stand and stretch when possible. Here are some more everyday, anywhere yoga exercises from My Daily Yoga.

Finally, listen to your body. Tension you feel in your back or neck may not be caused by emotional stress from your job. It may be a simple matter of readjusting your work position.

7. Headaches And Migraines

Headaches and migraines are the phantom symptoms of computer use.

Some speculate that migraine sufferers are more sensitive to the refresh rate of monitors, making them more vulnerable. Others speculate that it is the stress of spending long hours on the computer, not the computer use itself, that's at fault. Still others say computer users are experiencing eyestrain and calling it a headache. Whatever the cause, the fact remains that computing can deliver a serious kick to the head.

Your Best Defense: Break it up. Drag your eyes away from the monitor. Stay alert for the beginning signs of a headache. If you develop a twinge, best to nip it in the bud by walking away from your workstation. You might also to use this time to tackle other tasks, such as returning phone calls or filing, to reduce the tension.

Also keep in mind the last time you ate, drank fluids, or had caffeine. Not all headaches are caused by computers, and recognizing your triggers is something only you can do.

8. Insomnia

It's often difficult to unwind after work. Working at a computer may make it doubly so.

The University of Maryland Medical Center cites excessive computer use as a cause of insomnia. It's not because you're chomping on the bit to get back to the report that's due. It's a little more complex. A Japanese study found that performing exciting tasks on computers with bright monitors at night reduces the concentration of melatonin and influences the human biological clock, interfering with sleep.

Your Best Defense:
Limit the amount of time you spend in front of your computer late at night. You may be better off waking up early to put in those extra hours as opposed to burning the midnight oil.


9. Internet Addiction And Other Risky Behaviors

Increasingly, physicians and health workers are treating patients who say they feel
compelled to be online all the time — e-mailing, instant messaging, shopping, in chat rooms, playing video games, whatever — often to the detriment of work, school, and family life.

The popular term for this condition is Internet addiction; however, many health professionals are skeptical that the desire to be online is a true physiological addiction. Indeed, the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize Internet addiction as a medical condition.

Whether it's technically an addiction or not, however, there's no denying that spending excessive amounts of time online can have serious repercussions on a person's life. What's more, the Internet can be used to feed other addictions — sex, gambling, even shopping, in some cases leading to lost jobs, wrecked relationships, and drained bank accounts. If addiction needs fuel, think of your Internet connection as the closest gas station.

We may think of excessive computer use as a problem only in the technology-obsessed United States, but it's not. In March of this year, a government-sponsored center for Internet addictions was opened in Beijing, China, aimed at helping Internet abusers regain balance in their lives. One person receiving treatment reported spending 24-hour stretches in front of his computer. The result: treatments that include counseling and electroshock therapy.

Your Best Defense: Here's where we step away from the keyboard. If spending time on your computer begins to negatively affect your job, your interpersonal relationships, your sleep, or your financial stability, you might be in trouble. Here are some organizations that can help.


10. Environmental Impact

Enough of the direct-to-the-consumer harm. Did you know that feeding your computer jones can damage the planet? Our yearning for bleeding-edge toys has us throwing out hard drives, cell phones, and PDAs the minute something flashier rears its head. While we may take delight in being on the cutting edge of technology, the planet is suffering from the digital detritus.


The
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition bills itself as a "diverse grassroots coalition that engages in research, advocacy, and organizing around the environmental and human health problems caused by the rapid growth of the high-tech electronics industry." Its findings aren't encouraging.

Computers contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. When these computers become outdated, they end up in landfills, poisoning the ground and our groundwater. Despite the efforts of environmental organizations, less than 10 percent of computers are recycled, and of those that are, only a fraction are recycled safely.

What's more, you may literally not see the problem. Greenpeace International reports:

"E-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law. Inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found as much as 47 percent of waste destined for export, including e-waste, was illegal. In the UK alone, at least 23,000 metric tonnes of undeclared or 'grey' market electronic waste was illegally shipped in 2003 to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way."


A child sits among a pile of wires in Guiyu, China. Children often dismantle e-waste containing hazardous chemicals that can damage their health.

© Greenpeace / Natalie Behring

Your Best Defense: Take responsibility for your own computer materials and make sure they land safely when you're finished with them. Trashing them isn't the only option. Contact local charities to see if they have a place for a slightly outdated computer. Post a sign in your neighborhood to see if anyone wants it, or advertise it as a freebie on Craig's List. You may have moved on, but not everyone has.

No luck? Don't try to discard your computer yourself. Get some professional help. Dial 1-800-CLEANUP for state-specific information on how to safely discard your computer equipment. You can also visit the Earth 911 Web site for tips.

For example, after inputting my zip code at Earth 911, I was given four locations, all within a ten-mile drive from my home, that accept discarded computers. Two of them charge a small fee for accepting monitors, but it's money well spent.

If you're extra-dedicated, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition offers a list of U.S. recyclers who have signed the Electronic Recycler's Pledge of True Stewardship.

Important: Whether you donate, recycle, or dispose of your computer, be sure to safely remove personal data from your equipment first. See Data Disposal: A Crushing Problem? for tips.

Copyright © 2005 CMP Media LLC

Some facts and predictions to make you think


Some facts and predictions to make you think

Total world cross-border trade as a percentage of global GDP
1990: 18%
2015 (estimated): 30%

Number of regional trade agreements
1990: 50
2005: 250

Change in Germany's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 33%

Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Germany's future generation: 90%

Change in Japan's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 36%

Change in Japan's population under the age of 5 from 2005 to 2015:
-13%

Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Japan's future generation: 175%

Computational capability of an Intel processor, as measured in instructions per second
1971: 60,000
2005: 10,800,000,000

Multiple by which e-mail traffic has grown from 1997 to 2005: 215

Number of US tax returns prepared in India
2003: 25,000
2005: 400,000

Combined market cap of top 150 mega-institutions
1994: $4 trillion
2004: $11 trillion

Total capital under management by private equity firms in 2003 in the United States and Europe: $1 trillion

Market cap of the NYSE in 2003: $11 trillion

Growth rate of the total wealth controlled by millionaires in China from 1986 to 2001: 600%

Estimated number of Chinese households to achieve European income levels by 2020 (assuming real income grows at 8 percent annually): 100 million

Total number of workers in China: 750 million

Number employed in China's state-owned companies: 375 million

Year when the income gap in the United States between the wealthiest 5% and the bottom 10% was the widest ever recorded: 2004

Part of national GDP spent on the public sector in the United Kingdom in 2004: 20%

UK public-sector spending as a ratio of GDP when transfer payments (for example, pensions) are included: 40%

Proportion of Latin Americans who would prefer a dictator to democracy if he improved their living conditions: 50%

Muslims as a percentage of the global population
2000: 19%
2025 (estimated): 30%

Number of major violent conflicts
1991: 58
2005: 22

Number of coal-fired power plants China plans to build by 2012: 562

Estimated year China will overtake the United States as the number-one carbon emitter: 2025

Estimated year CO2 levels will hit 500 parts per million: 2050

Years since CO2 levels last hit 500 parts per million: 50 million

Average years it takes a CO2 molecule, once produced, to degrade: 100

Global CEOs who think overregulation is a threat to growth: 61%

Probability that a company in an industry's top revenue quartile will not be there in five years: 30 percent

19.1.06

U.S. Has Improved Environmental Performance, Says International Panel


U.S. Has Improved Environmental Performance, Says International Panel
Source:
GreenBiz.com

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2006 - The United States has significantly improved its environmental performance in the last eight years even as its economy and population have grown substantially, according to a report from the Environmental Performance Review Program of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report documents that from 1996-2005, the United States reduced pollution during a period when there was a 10 percent increase in the size of the U.S. population and a 30 percent increase in the nation's gross domestic product.

OECD's Environmental Performance Reviews program assists member countries in improving their environmental management performance by assessing progress, promoting a policy dialogue among member countries, and stimulating greater accountability from governments towards public opinion. This is the second review of the United States, with the first review completed in 1996.

"Since the first review in 1996, the health of our shared environment and the strength of our national economy have experienced dramatic improvement," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By reaffirming our commitment to innovation, accountability and sound science, we have created a solid footing to meet the environmental challenges facing the U.S. in the 21st Century."

The U.S. Ambassador to the OECD, Constance A. Morella, remarked, "This review demonstrates the commitment the United States maintains towards the quality of its environment and the leadership role the U.S. plays within the OECD."

The report commends the United States for being a pioneer in market-based solutions, innovative policies, and partnerships for an improved environment. Noting this progress, the review commends the United States for "decoupling" environmental pressures from economic growth and details progress in a number of key areas:

  • Emissions of major air pollutants declined;
  • Drinking water standards have been strengthened;
  • Overall quality of the water supplied by public systems improved;
  • Extensive system of national conservation areas was further expanded;
  • Ecosystem management approaches have been introduced to improve management of many sensitive areas; and
  • Environmental justice considerations and cooperation with tribal authorities concerning environmental conditions has increased substantially since the 1990s.
The review also includes 51 specific recommendations for the United States to continue its leadership in the field of environmental protection, such as expansion of the role of market-based instruments and continued promotion of environmental education and awareness, especially at state and local levels.

This U.S. review was based on a series of more than 700 interviews conducted by OECD's review team during a two-week visit to the United States in the summer of 2004. The peer review team included members from Australia, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom, together with OECD Secretariat staff.

Corporate Watchdog Radio holds companies accountable for their social, environmental, and economic impacts


http://www.csrwire.com/article.cgi/4905.html
 
01/17/2006
 
Press release from: Corporate Watchdog Radio
 
Corporate Watchdog Radio Launches Podcast
 
Already broadcast on radio stations from Alaska to Vermont, Corporate Watchdog Radio holds companies accountable for their social, environmental, and economic impacts
 
 
 
(CSRwire) Corporate Watchdog Radio (CWR), a half-hour show broadcast twice monthly, is a new hybrid radio show and podcast launched using both platforms simultaneously. Freely accessible on the internet, on broadcast radio, and through the iTunes Music Store, Corporate Watchdog Radio is designed for financial professionals, corporate social responsibility activists, and investors concerned about the social ethics and environmental impact of the corporations in their portfolios.
 
CWR exposes corporate wrongdoing and applauds businesses that do the right thing. The program investigates how corporate malfeasance can adversely impact the well-being of people and the planet, and commends companies making healthy financial returns by supporting social and environmental progress.
 
With its lively dialogue and interview format, CWR teams journalist Bill Baue with environmental attorney and filmmaker Sanford Lewis. Baue and Lewis bring a wealth of investigative, legal, and reporting experience to the matter at hand. Lewis, a leading national expert on corporate disclosure to investors on environmental and social liabilities, has represented shareowners and activists for over 23 years, and has produced films on corporate accountability issues. Baue has covered socially responsible investing (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) for SocialFunds for half a decade. Together, they analyze hot topics and breaking stories, and interview experts who are holding corporations accountable in traditional and innovative ways.
 
On the latest show (available January 18) Lewis interviews Glenn Evers, a former DuPont scientist, and Attorney Alan Kluger, who is suing DuPont regarding Teflon. Evers, who worked for DuPont for more than 20 years, recently flagged concerns regarding health and environmental impacts of Dupont products used to coat fast food wrappers. Kluger has filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Dupont over the alleged toxicity of Teflon coated cookware. While the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and other mainstream media outlets have only skimmed the surface of this story, CWR distinguishes itself by offering in-depth exploration of impacts and implications--including the potential public health hazards the chemical PFOA poses in ubiquitous products such as paper wrapping for microwave popcorn, fast food, and pizza. Lewis is himself a representative of DuPont Shareholders for Fair Value, a group of DuPont shareholders including Amalgamated Bank, United Steelworkers and others concerned about the financial impacts on DuPont of PFOA, the controversial chemical believed to be a breakdown byproduct of Teflon cookware and many DuPont stain- and grease-repellent treatments.
 
Recent editions of CWR include interviews with Cristobal Bonifaz, lead lawyer in the ongoing lawsuit against ChevronTexaco for the environmental destruction of the Ecuadorian rainforest, and reports from Dow Chemical activist Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman, just prior to her arrest at a Tom Delay fundraiser in Houston.
 
Corporate Watchdog Radio is produced for broadcast on Northampton, Massachusetts-based low power FM community station Valley Free Radio, a Pacifica network affiliate. Other radio stations broadcasting CWR include The Journey Radio webcasting from St. Louis, Missouri; WOOL-LP in Southern Vermont; WRCT in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; KWMD in Anchorage, Alaska; and WRFU in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Additional radio stations can pick up CWR from the Pacifica Audioport website or from the CWR website, http://corporatewatchdogmedia.org.
 
Visit the CWR website http://corporatewatchdogmedia.org to subscribe to the low-traffic listserve for announcements when new programming is posted. The webcast and audio archive is available through the website http://corporatewatchdogmedia.org, or as a podcast feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/CorporateWatchdogMedia and by searching Corporate Watchdog Media on the iTunes music store.
 
For more information please contact:
 
Sanford Lewis
413 549-7333

 
Bill Baue
413 665-3088

 
corporatewatchdogmedia.org

18.1.06

Walgreens to Harness Power of the Sun


Walgreens to Harness Power of the Sun
Source:
GreenBiz.com

DENVER, Colo., Jan. 12, 2006 - Drugstore giant Walgreens has partnered with ImaginIt Inc., a Denver-based clean energy solutions company, to install solar electric systems in 96 stores and two distribution centers in California and 16 stores in New Jersey.

Solar roof tiles will enable each facility to generate between 20% and 50% of its own electricity on site. The stores will host solar electric systems that will replace energy equivalent to more than 22 million gallons of gas and avoid hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide emissions comparable to growing more than 5 million tree seedlings.

The new systems will generate more than 13.8 million kilowatt-hours per year, making this the largest solar project ever completed in the United States. The first systems are expected to be operational in early 2006.

"Climate change, air pollution, and depletion of natural resources are some of the most significant environmental problems facing the world today," said Tom Bergseth, divisional vice president of facilities, planning and design for Walgreens. "We're excited about implementing this progressive approach toward using clean, renewable energy to benefit the communities we serve."

Walgreens is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2005 sales of $42.2 billion. The company operates 5,080 stores in 45 states and Puerto Rico.

17.1.06

[SolarAustin] IR solar cell record set


< http://www.photonics.com/todaysheadlines/article.asp?id=6070 >

IR Solar Cell Record Set


EWING, New Jersey, Jan. 12, 2006 -- Global Photonic Energy
Corp. (GPEC), a developer of organic photovoltaic technology
for high-power solar cells, announced that its research
partners at Princeton University and the University of
Southern California have achieved a record in an organic
solar cell that is responsive to light in the near-infrared
range of the solar spectrum.
  The achievement is the highest level of conversion performance
yet achieved for an organic solar cell in the IR portion of
the solar spectrum, GPEC said.
  GPEC sponsors research by Professor Stephen R. Forrest at
Princeton and Professor Mark E. Thompson at the University of
Southern California. They reported their results in a recent
issue of Applied Physics Letters.
  Forrest's research team has focused on organic "small-molecule"
devices that are assembled literally a molecule at a time in
highly efficient nanostructures. These devices have layers or
structural elements that can be extremely small -- only half
a billionth of a meter thick -- and can be applied to low-cost,
flexible plastic surfaces.
  "This latest device demonstrates that significant power can be
harvested from the IR and near-IR portion of the solar spectrum,"
said Forrest. "In fact, this novel approach has the potential to
double the power output of organic solar devices with power
harvested from the near-IR and IR portion of the solar spectrum.
  "With this approach, we are well on our way to power levels
exceeding 100 watts per meter," he said.
  Near-infrared (NIR) radiation is invisible to the human eye.
Many night-vision devices operate by sensing IR light emitted
by warm objects. Under only NIR radiation, the Princeton solar
cell would appear to be generating power in the dark, since
the human eye is only sensitive to visible light.
  Traditionally, photovoltaic, or solar, cells have been constructed
of an inorganic semiconductor like silicon. Efficient silicon-based
devices, especially those with large surface areas, are difficult
and expensive to produce. Although the cost of silicon solar cells
has dropped dramatically since the 1950s, further reductions and
new capabilities are needed for additional market penetration
and broader adoption, GPEC said.
  Recent efforts have focused on the use of "organic" materials.
Organic semiconductors contain carbon and are capable of achieving
ultralow-cost solar power generation that is competitive with
traditional fossil-fuel sources. Organic materials have the
potential to achieve ultralow cost production costs and high-power
output, GMAC said. They can be applied to virtually any surface
using a method akin to spray painting and can also be used in
flexible applications.
  One challenge for organic solar cells has been the efficient
capture and conversion of sunlight. Sunlight is comprised of
photons (particles of light) that are delivered across a spectrum
that includes invisible ultraviolet (UV) light, the visible
spectrum of colors -- violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow,
orange and red -- and the invisible IR spectrum. The amount
of incoming photons across the UV, visible and IR spectrums
is about 4, 5 and 45 percent, respectively. The photons absorbed
by a solar cell directly impacts the power output. The best
organic solar cells absorb and convert only about a third of
the total available light utilizing primarily the visible portion
of the spectrum.
  For more information, visit: www.globalphotonic.com