Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Bloomberg BNA -- Nike is partnering with a Swiss company to increase the sustainability of textiles used in its products, which are made in nearly 800 factories worldwide.
Nike will provide its suppliers with screening tools made by the company, called bluesign technologies, that will allow them to select more sustainable dyes, detergents, and chemicals for use in the textile manufacturing process. The partnership was announced March 18.
Last June, I raised a few eyebrows when I told attendees at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio (aka Rio+20) that "accountants would save the world." But I meant it. To get all businesses involved in solving the world's toughest problems, we must change the accounting rules.
Why accounting? During my time as CEO of TNT N.V. we created a partnership with the UN World Food Program (WFP) — at that time the world's first between a for-profit and the UN agency. A transport company like TNT is a typical beneficiary of globalization. At the same time we live in a world where every six seconds a child dies from hunger despite there being enough food in the world to prevent it. So TNT brought its logistics skills and committed its people's time to help the WFP reach the victims of droughts, famine, and natural disaster. Our professional support made the WFP function better. But we got returns on our investment as well: Our employees were proud of the company and eager to participate; the disaster areas provided some of the best training on how to solve complex dilemmas; and of course the reputation of the company improved tremendously. There is no doubt we benefited from this.
This week’s dumb question was put to J. Bradford DeLong, who is professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a blogger, and a former Clinton administration Treasury official.
The Grid: Can I ask you a dumb question?
What they're all talking about is a tax on carbon pollution, and there are a zillion ways to design it: Cheap or expensive? For energy producers or consumers? Who gets all the money collected?
I was reminded recently by film critic and Twitter celebrity Roger Ebert that the genius of Alfred Hitchcock extended from drama, suspense and black humor all the way to sustainability.
The word is used by so many people these days, to mean so many different things, that just defining it is like juggling scrambled eggs. That’s more or less the consistency of corporate sustainability rhetoric, too. Real-life example: “Our strong values of togetherness and enthusiasm, a constant desire for renewal and our commitment to make our goals a reality will support us in taking the many steps, both large and small.”
Today, The Grid introduces a new blog feature, "Dumb Question," in which we hurl naive, misinformed or otherwise uncomfortable questions at unsuspecting targets. I put the first Dumb Question to Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer, the seed division of DuPont Co., who met with reporters and editors yesterday at a Bloomberg Government breakfast.
The Grid: DuPont was founded in 1803, which means it’s been a part of America longer than the state of Ohio has been. It seems that natural, traditional, American seeds were good enough for the founding fathers. So what’s wrong with them now that they need to be ‘improved’ by all sorts of gene tampering?
The western Canadian prairie, a traditional stronghold for wheat-growers, has become a more hospitable environment for corn and soybean cultivation -- thanks in part to climate change.
DuPont Pioneer, the seed division of DuPont Co., is following the temperature north. It’s starting to build infrastructure for products that traditionally grow farther south and is teaching farmers how to grow them.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes became the first man, with fellow soldier Charles Burton, to circumnavigate the globe by crossing the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, from 1979 to 1982. When he climbed Mount Everest in 2009, he became the first person to cross both ice caps and summit the world's highest peak. His various attempts on the Poles, as well as mountaineering and running exploits have spanned more then four decades. Since 1984, he’s used his expeditions to raise more than 16 million pounds ($23.8 million) for charities, becoming one of the U.K.’s top fundraisers.
Last month, the British adventurer was forced to withdraw from his latest trek -- a winter crossing of Antarctica titled “The Coldest Journey” -- after suffering frostbite during preparations on the southern continent. I spoke to him by satellite phone on Feb. 19, six days before his expedition website announced the injuries that forced him to abandon the journey. Fiennes’s comments nonetheless provide a rare snapshot into the mind and motivations of an adventurer.
Royal DSM might be the largest company you’ve never heard of. That’s how Hugh Welsh, the company’s president for North America, introduces people to the Dutch maker of nutrients, advanced materials and chemicals used in everything from agriculture, to furniture, to energy.
DSM employs about 23,000 people globally, including 2,000 nutrition scientists. It brought in more than $9 billion in 2012 sales. DSM has recently refocused its global business on what Welsh calls “endemic problems,” which include health and wellness, energy and climate change. We spoke by phone last month.
Bloomberg BNA -- Severe drought and climate change have prompted many of Australia's major cities to construct large-scale desalination plants to provide a rainfall-independent source of drinking water.
“The driver for desalination in Australia has been very simple,” Australian Water Association Chief Executive Tom Mollenkopf told BNA March 1. “We have just emerged from 10 to 15 years of incredibly low rainfall—what became known as the ‘millennium drought.’”