Sustainability Blog - The Grid
You know they're out there.
Even people still squeamish about one or another global mega-risk must, deep in their seats of reason, twitch at the thought of these things taking a toll:
Here's the main problem with companies talking about how sustainable they are.
If environmental and social issues were as central to their operations as we're led to believe, then they would be discussed meaningfully in securities disclosures, lobbyists would bring them before Congress and retirement plans would invest by them.
Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York is testing a patient for Ebola. He recently returned from a trip to West Africa, where Ebola has killed some 900 people. In a lazy summer news cycle when people are dreaming about weekend margaritas and beach trips, Ebola has become the biggest news story since balloon boy. It shouldn’t be.
Ebola is spread through body fluids: blood and mucous and feces. It’s a big deal in Africa right now, largely because of lax quarantines and traditional funeral rites that include washing of the dead. If you live in a country with decent public-health infrastructure and haven’t been handling bodies or paying sick visits to patients with Ebola, you’re probably going to be just fine.
If you’re looking for a story to scare you out of your late-summer malaise, try one of these instead. In addition to being credible threats, they also have the benefit of being within your control to do something about:
Bloomberg BNA -- Scientific understanding of the effects of hydraulic fracturing and other methods of extracting natural gas from shale rock has not kept pace with the rapid expansion of the industry in North America, leaving researchers with a limited grasp of what drilling could be doing to wildlife and plants, said a study published July 31.
The study in the peer-reviewed journal “Frontiers in Ecology” involved several U.S. and Canadian conservation biologists and organizations, and was led by British Columbia's Simon Fraser University.
A peculiar 100-foot crater opened up in a gas-producing region of northern Russia last month, and scientists are coming to initial conclusions about what caused it: Methane gas escaping from melting permafrost, possibly blowing through the ground in an explosion, according to reports.
Scientists' early assessment is just that, preliminary, but not without data behind it. The bottom of the crater tested for methane levels up to 9.6 percent of the air content, which is about 54,000 times normal levels.
Bloomberg BNA -- A more stringent national ambient air quality standard for ozone could cost the U.S. economy up to $270 billion per year and force the closure of one-third of the nation's coal-fired power plants, according to a report commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers.
The report, released July 31, outlines the economic effects of revising the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion to 60 parts per billion, the lowest level being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is under a court-ordered deadline to issue a proposal on whether to retain or revise the existing ozone standard by Dec. 1.
Happy Friday! Here are today's top reads:
- California’s exceptional drought just keeps getting worse (Bloomberg)
- Falcons vs. windmills (NY Times)
- Using CO2 emissions to pump oil may help the climate (Climate Central)
- Cause of mysterious Siberian holes possibly found (Scientific American)
- Actually, some material goods can make you happy (Atlantic)
- Ben & Jerry’s throws fudge brownie into GMO food fight (Bloomberg)
- We're moving beyond energy efficiency into 'demand destruction' (CityLab)
- Turning a slate quarry green: 40 years of Centre for Alternative Technology (Guardian)
- Trees are heroes: They save hundreds of lives a year (Fast Company)
- Should the government be worried about stoned drivers? (National Journal)
Visit The Grid for the latest about energy, natural resources and global business.
Bloomberg BNA -- United Parcel Service Inc., which reached a 2016 goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent three years early, has a new target: 20 percent by 2020.
The world's largest package-delivery company plans to use more alternative-fuel vehicles and expand its ORION software in the U.S. as part of that effort, Chief Sustainability Officer Rhonda Clark said in a telephone interview.
California’s three-year drought just went from bad to dreadful. In the course of the last week, the crimson expanse of “exceptional drought” grew to engulf the northern part of the state.
The chart above shows the drought's progression as reported today by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Archived maps show the end of July for each year since 2011.
Amazon's new unlimited book-borrowing service may bring in $1 billion a year in sales for the company. Don't be one of the suckers.
Kindle Unlimited charges $9.99 a month for an all-you-can-read buffet. For roughly the same cost of unlimited movies on Netflix or unlimited music on Spotify, you can download all the books you’ll never have time to read.