The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

How to Paint a Golf Course Green

Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio

Did you know that 2,500 square feet of golf course turf "releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe?”

I didn’t either, until I received a press release last week about “golf’s positive environmental impact here in the U.S,” from Buffalo Communications, a unit of Billy Casper Golf LLC. And it made me wonder: Is that enough oxygen for four family members to each inhale once, or enough to sustain themselves indefinitely? I grew up playing golf in a family of four. It’s no wonder we never had shortness of breath.

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Ford Expects Up to 25% of Electric Sales by 2020

2013 Ford Fusion with EcoBoost

Improving fuel economy in every segment of its business is the biggest thing Ford Motor Co. can do to be sustainable and profitable, said John Viera, global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters.

Ford hopes to meet this need, in one way, with its EcoBoost technology, which uses turbocharging and direct fuel injection to boost the power of gasoline engines, improving the vehicle’s efficiency by 10-20 percent. The company estimates that about 90 percent of its 2013 Ford Escape will be fitted with EcoBoost engines. Viera tells Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Clean Energy and Carbon Brief that by 2020, 10-25 percent of its fleet will be electric – with three quarters of that traditional hybrids.

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Unilever Wants Short, Soapy Showers and Long-Term Investors

Unilever Plc. Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman

In the 1890s, William Lever remarked that his new product, Sunlight Soap, might “make cleanliness commonplace” and improve health throughout soot-covered Victorian England. Today, Paul Polman, head of the company Lever created, has even grander aspirations for Unilever, the maker of Dove soaps, Lipton tea and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Polman, in his fourth year as chief executive officer, wants to improve the hygiene habits of more than a billion people by 2020 by encouraging handwashing and providing safe, affordable drinking water in developing countries. Those goals are part of a sustainability strategy than says can double Unilever’s sales while halving its environmental footprint.

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Can the U.S. Economy Be Sustained for Another 236 Years?

Carbon Counter Display Goes Dark

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour,” Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

The original Declaration of Independence, badly faded from poor 19th-century preservation techniques, is on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Each passing Fourth of July provides evidence that this document is better preserved than the land whose inhabitants it grants freedom and rights.

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EPA Official Who Planned to Crucify Polluters Joins Sierra Club

Al Armendariz, who resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency after comments surfaced in which he joked he wanted to crucify corporate polluters, has a new job with the Sierra Club.

The San Francisco-based environmental group said today Armendariz will be a senior campaign representative in Austin, Texas, for its “Beyond Coal” campaign.

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Japanese Dock on Oregon Beach

An estimated 19,000 people died in March 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed entire Japanese towns, and triggered the worst nuclear disaster in a generation. Fifteen months and 5,000 miles later, debris swept away in the tsunami has begun to wash up on North American shores. A 66-foot dock, weighing 160 tons, landed this month on Agate Beach, near Newport, Oregon.

Marine researchers study ocean debris of all sizes to help them understand the currents, eddies and winds that serendipitously deliver material from one watery part of the world to another. It’s not a new phenomenon. Anthropologists have even suggested that Native Americans mined iron from wrecked Japanese ships that floated to North America.

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Lack of Political Will Limited Rio+20: EU Commissioner

The European Union pushed hard last week to promote the notion of a "green economy" at the UN's Rio+20 summit, where the final 49-page document was endorsed by all and pleased no one. U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "dilution and compromise is the name of the game," after the EU failed to get the goals and timelines it was seeking included in the declaration. At the summit’s conclusion, I caught up with EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, who spearheaded the 27-nation bloc's efforts.

Q: Rio has produced a declaration that the EU has said it isn’t happy with. In fact, no one is happy with it. What's the way forward from here?
A: The document we will be adopting does not match the ambition and the challenges the world is facing. But it’s a certainly an important step in the right direction.

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Canola Fields

The Indian Olympic Association excoriated the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December for making Dow Chemical Co. a sponsor of this summer’s London Games. The reason: Dow Chemical owns Union Carbide, which owned the Bhopal chemical plant that exploded in 1984 and killed an estimated 20,000 people. "The very presence of this company is against the spirit of the Olympic ideals," acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra wrote.

Dow Chemical Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said opposition to the sponsorship was "beyond belief," given the 17-year gap between the Bhopal tragedy and Dow's acquisition of Union Carbide. The IOC gently made a similar point.

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Rio+20: On the Same Planet, But Not the Same Page

Rio+20: On the Same Planet, But Not the Same Page

Why is it that we share a common future, but so little common ground?

The result from Rio+20 is so lackluster, leaders and their delegates declined to bequeath it one of the grandiloquent titles normally attached to such things. It is not a Rio+20 Declaration, nor even a "roadmap." It is simply, awkwardly, uninspiringly, a "Rio+20 Outcomes Document."

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UN Development Chief Gives Obama a Pass for Rio+20 Absence

Helen Clark, head of the UN Development Program

As prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark championed sustainability in its many forms -- climate change, women and leadership, the nation's relations with indigenous people. As administrator of the United Nations Development Program since 2009, Clark oversees the organization's work in 177 nations advocating for democracy and environmental health, and fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS. I spoke with her in New York before the start of the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

Q: Paralyzed by money, political deadlock or fear of further economic shock, many national governments say they can't tackle sustainability issues right now. They need to ensure their citizens get their next meal. What do you tell them?
A: We have been pushing very hard on triple-win policies -- where countries agree to design a set of policies that all lead up to sustainable development. Take Ethiopia: they pay unemployed people to work, and the work is prioritized around irrigation, reforestation, etc. It's in the dry region of the country, but with some income, you can put food on the table. That's now helping some 8 million people.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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