Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Bloomberg BNA — Companies need better tools to analyze climate change data in order to use that information to make business decisions, scientists and insurance industry representatives said June 3.
Approximately 15 petabytes of climate data, or 15 million gigabytes, now exist worldwide, primarily from government agencies and academic institutions, said Sharon Hays, vice president of science and engineering at Computer Sciences Corp. The volume of climate data is expected to grow to 350 petabytes by 2030, she said. Hays was speaking at a workshop on climate information needs for financial decision-making held by the American Meteorological Society.
Question: What do Lagos, Nigeria, and the Jersey Shore have in common?
- (a) Their rulers both have Facebook pages with well over 100,000 “likes."
- (b) Their rulers have both launched anti-corruption crusades.
- (c) Their rulers are comfortable with the phrase “I don’t give a damn.”
- (d) Their rulers have both declared a state of emergency in the past 12 months.
If you guessed that all of those answers are correct, you’re right! Though, really, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s 111,293 "likes" can't compete with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s 957,849.
What would it take for proponents of sustainable capitalism to adopt the late Steve Jobs's obsession with making things that are "insanely great"? Set aside for a moment the glib answers, such as "a miracle" or “give away candy with your white papers.”
Apple changed the world because it suffocated stereotypes and expectations about what a computer could be. Somebody needs to suffocate stereotypes and expectations that sustainability advocates are p.r.-happy, regulation-loving do-gooder nerds.
Bloomberg BNA -- The Global Reporting Initiative, the organization that develops the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world, released an updated version of the guidelines May 22.
The guidelines, called the G4 guidelines, provide guidance for organizations to voluntarily report on their environmental, social, and governance performance.
The newest version encourages organizations to report only on information that is material to their business. Under the guidelines, organizations are directed to state why a certain disclosure, such as greenhouse gas emissions, is material to the organization. The previous version identified which issues were relevant and material to most organizations.
InsideClimateNews.org -- U.S. oil production is suddenly growing so fast that some analysts are questioning how much the country really needs the Canadian tar sands oil that would move through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
This month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expects domestic crude oil production to surge 20 percent by the end of 2014 from its level at the start of this year. That means an additional 1.4 million barrels of U.S.-produced oil will be available each day--about twice as much as the Keystone would bring in from Canada.
James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist who first brought climate change to the attention of Congress in the 1980s, stepped down as head of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies last month. That hasn’t stopped him traveling the globe to lobby for climate protection measures, while remaining an adjunct professor for Earth and Environmental Studies at Columbia University.
I caught up with Hansen in London last week. He was in Europe to lobby politicians to classify fuels from oil sands as more polluting than conventional fossil fuels. A Congressional Research Service study published in March estimates that Canadian oil sands are 14 percent to 20 percent (pdf) more carbon intensive than conventional crude.
"Bear with me,” Al Gore said to a rapt crowd of about 200 last Monday night at the fourth annual U.S.-India Energy Partnership Summit in Washington. He was asking the audience’s indulgence as he offered a scientific analogy to describe his investment philosophy.
Traditional investors focus on a narrow part of the spectrum of value that any company, or economy, produces, he said. Mainstream accounting in that way is like visible light. It’s all that eyes can see but makes up just 2 percent of the complete electromagnetic spectrum, the band of radiation that extends from high-powered gamma and x-rays to microwave and radio frequencies.
Flying cars, meals in pill form, robot overlords — many attempts to predict the future turn out predictably wrong. Not so with a National Science Foundation study in 1982 that foresaw, with a prescience that feels like time travel, the rise of networked computing and its ensuing challenges to society.
The report is summarized in this fun-to-read June 14, 1982, New York Times article: “Study Says Technology Could Transform Society” (hat tip to my Bloomberg Businessweek colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin). The piece explores how one-way and two-way electronic communication could revolutionize how people work and play, how buildings and cities are designed and how children learn (or don’t).
Bloomberg BNA -- Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, and San Diego are among the cities most likely to face water scarcity as climate change increases drought potential, a study released May 15 found.
Along with the potentially 40 million Americans affected in these cities, several “breadbasket region” states such as Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota also made the list of vulnerable areas.
More than 11 percent of investments under U.S. professional management were selected for companies’ financial performance and their social and environmental responsibility in 2012. That’s $3.74 trillion of the $33.3 trillion in investments scanned for environmental, social and governance criteria (known as ESG), according to a November report by the U.S. SIF Foundation.
Individuals and institutions are increasingly on the lookout for investment strategies that help them achieve environmental and social goals.