Sustainablog

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

28.1.09

[Green Community] Is the Green Movement a Passing Fancy? With a struggling economy and lower oil prices, we'll get to see how committed to green technology companies really are.... Now is not the time to cut investment in green technology and environmentally beneficial business practices.



Is the Green Movement a Passing Fancy?
With a struggling economy and lower oil prices, we'll get to see how committed to green technology companies really are

By Ursula M. Burns
Please tell me that "green" isn't a fad.
I don't know about you, but for the past two years I have been on green overload. Everywhere I turned, read, listened, and watched, the race to say "I am greener than you" has been on for individuals and businesses alike.
But that was then. With a struggling economy and oil prices falling fast, I think we will soon see just how real all those green aspirations are. And I for one sure hope the commitment to the environment and green technology is enduring. Unfortunately, I am not so sure that's the case. I just read the results of a recent corporate responsibility survey conducted by Business for Social Responsibility and Cone LLC and found them troubling.
According to the survey, in the face of the current economic conditions, 31% of respondents see their corporate and social responsibility budgets decreasing; another 26% say it's too early to determine the impact of the economic crisis on their corporate responsibility plans.
SMART BUSINESS FOR EVERYONE
So maybe we need to reset the way we think about environmental responsibility. At Xerox (XRX), my job is to meet the needs of our customers and our shareholders. The thing is, what I do at my job and how I do my part for the environment are not mutually exclusive. "Green" is not a corporate function housed in a separate unit devoted to social responsibility; green solutions and sustainable strategies are smart business—for everyone. The greener we get, the more we can reduce costs and boost efficiency. The more we reduce costs, the more productive a business can become and the better we can weather the maladies of the global business market.
Let me give you some examples. In 2006, Xerox saved $18 million because of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Through sound energy management, new and innovative manufacturing technologies, more efficient heating and cooling equipment in our facilities, and reducing the miles traveled by our service fleet, we have achieved an 18% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2002. We've raised our goal to a 25% decrease by 2012.
But this isn't just about what Xerox is doing. S.C. Johnson implemented a transportation logistics project that saved the company $1.6 million a year. Wal-Mart (WMT) reduced costs by $1 million a year just by shutting off the lights in its vending machines.
WALL STREET LIKES GREEN
Other information-driven businesses are achieving huge savings, too. According to the educational and consulting firm Uptime Institute, an enterprise whose computing workload rises 15% annually can save more than $140 million over four years largely by making existing data centers more efficient, rather than building new ones. In doing so, it's also cutting its carbon dioxide emissions almost by half.
A green office can save you a bundle as well. Dow Chemical (DOW), which spent over $100 million on desktop printing over five years, consolidated printing devices from 16,000 to 5,000 company-wide. While saving paper and reducing its overall environmental impact, Dow estimates that it will save between 20% and 30% on printing costs annually.
And here is a nice little side benefit: It seems that Wall Street sees the value of green as well. According to a Thomson Reuters (TRI) study, 82% of investors evaluate environmental, social, and governance criteria as part of their investment decision because they believe these actions impact share price.
NO TURNING BACK
Now is not the time to cut investment in green technology and environmentally beneficial business practices. No, now is the time to keep those investments that deliver a real, measurable return—where your business, your customers, and the world in which we live can reap the reward.
Burns is president of Xerox and a member of its board of directors.

26.1.09

[Green Community] Dramatic Expansion Of Dead Zones In Oceans Likely With Unchecked Global Warming: "the future of the ocean as a large food reserve would be more uncertain. Reduced fossil fuel emissions are needed over the next few generations to limit ongoing ocean oxygen depletion and acidification and their long-term adverse effects"

Web address:
     
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/
     090125142118.htm


Dramatic Expansion Of Dead Zones In Oceans Likely With Unchecked Global Warming

Mississippi Dead Zone, off U.S. coast. Reds and oranges represent low oxygen concentrations. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2009) — Unchecked global warming would leave ocean dwellers gasping for breath. Dead zones are low-oxygen areas in the ocean where higher life forms such as fish, crabs and clams are not able to live. In shallow coastal regions, these zones can be caused by runoff of excess fertilizers from farming. A team of Danish researchers have now shown that unchecked global warming would lead to a dramatic expansion of low-oxygen areas zones in the global ocean by a factor of 10 or more.

Whereas some coastal dead zones could be recovered by control of fertilizer usage, expanded low-oxygen areas caused by global warming will remain for thousands of years to come, adversely affecting fisheries and ocean ecosystems far into the future.

Professor Gary Shaffer of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, who is the leader of the research team at the Danish Center for Earth System Science (DCESS), explains that "such expansion would lead to increased frequency and severity of fish and shellfish mortality events, for example off the west coasts of the continents like off Oregon and Chile".

Large extinction events

Together with senior scientists Steffen Olsen oceanographer at Danish Meteorological Institute and Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen, physicist at National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Professor Shaffer has performed projections with the newly-developed DCESS Earth System Model, projections that extend 100,000 years into the future.

He adds that "if, as in many climate model simulations, the overturning circulation of the ocean would greatly weaken in response to global warming, these oxygen minimum zones would expand much more still and invade the deep ocean." Extreme events of ocean oxygen depletion leading to anoxia are thought to be prime candidates for explaining some of the large extinction events in Earth history including the largest such event at the end of the Permian 250 million years ago.

Series of changes

Furthermore, as suboxic zones expand, essential nutrients are stripped from the ocean by the process of denitrification. This in turn would shift biological production in the lighted surface layers of the ocean toward plankton species that are able to fix free dissolved nitrogen. This would then lead to large, unpredictable changes in ocean ecosystem structure and productivity, on top of other large unpredictable changes to be expected from ocean acidification, the other great oceanic consequence of high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from fossil fuel burning.

Professor Shaffer warns that as a result, "the future of the ocean as a large food reserve would be more uncertain. Reduced fossil fuel emissions are needed over the next few generations to limit ongoing ocean oxygen depletion and acidification and their long-term adverse effects".


Journal reference:
1.        Long-term ocean oxygen depletion in response to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels'Nature Geoscience, (in press)
Adapted from materials provided by University of Copenhagen, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

[Green Community] Hillary Clinton today appointed a special envoy for climate change, who will lead the United States in international climate negotiations


January 26, 2009, 1:17 PM
Clinton Names Climate Envoy
By KATE GALBRAITH
Citing the "complex, urgent and global threat of climate change," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today appointed a special envoy for climate change, who will lead the United States in international climate negotiations.
Todd Stern, a climate negotiator during Bill Clinton's presidency and more recently a fellow at the Center for American Progress, will assume the role.
"We have no shortage of evidence that our world is facing a climate crisis," said Ms. Clinton, who went on to attribute a large part of the problem to the burning of fossil fuels.
The appointment caps off a day of aggressive environmental moves by the Obama administration. Together they signal a sharp break from the Bush administration, which took little action to mitigate climate change. Earlier in the day, President Obama called for swift action on California's bid for stricter tailpipe emissions standards in automobiles, and to accelerate the timetable for raising national fuel-efficiency standards.
Mr. Stern called for a new multilateral agreement on climate change.
"A new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy," he said.