Day: April 23, 2013

Online Tool Calculates Dairies’ Environmental Footprint

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

An online tool to help dairies calculate their environmental footprint is being tested by producers, the Innovation Center for US Dairy says.

Farm Smart currently focuses on voluntary self-assessment in four areas: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and water use. But future versions of the tool will help producers identify and assess sustainable agriculture management practices to make dairies more cost-efficient and productive, the industry group says. For example, the tool can help a dairy producer considering conservation tillage or precision fertilizer practices estimate reductions in input costs and GHG emissions, says Doug Young, general partner of Spruce Haven Farm and Research Center in Union Springs, NY.

Pew Research: Public’s Knowledge of Science and Technology

The Pew Research Institute recently released a new report entitled Public’s Knowledge of Science and Technology. From the press release:

The public’s knowledge of science and technology varies widely across a range of questions on current topics and basic scientific concepts, according to a new quiz by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine. Click here to take the quiz yourself before reviewing the answers.

About eight-in-ten Americans (83%) identify ultraviolet as the type of radiation that sunscreen protects against. Nearly as many (77%) know that the main concern about the overuse of antibiotics is that it can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, only about half (51%) of the public knows that “fracking” is a process that extracts natural gas, not coal, diamonds or silicon from the earth.

Similarly, knowledge of basic scientific concepts differs greatly across questions. While most Americans (78%) know that the basic function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, just 20% could identify nitrogen as the gas that makes up most of the atmosphere.

See also Smithsonian Magazine’s recent article “How Much Do Americans Know About Science?”

Secrets of scale: 6 steps to growing big quickly

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

When Twitter turned 7 last month, I was struck by how rapidly many new things have become mainstream. Facebook, iPads, eBay, ready meals and all sorts of things that hardly existed 10 years ago are now part of our day-to-day lives. Yet this sort of rapid scale up is just not happening when it comes to solving the sustainability challenges that are also reshaping the way that we live.

To get to a brilliant future where green businesses prosper over their competitors, we need scale, and fast. In energy, we need many renewable technologies to seriously replace hydrocarbons, for example, alongside more business models that promote energy efficiency. Scale is also critical to chief sustainability officers who want to increase their impact internally, or to ensure their sustainable products and services grow beyond niche. And in current constrained times, where companies are under constant pressure to improve performance, this quest for scale has become even more urgent.

Why every company has a chemical footprint

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

What is your company’s chemical footprint?

You may think this question does not apply to your organization because it doesn’t use chemicals. Yet all products are made from chemicals. Chemicals are the building blocks of matter, which is what we make products from. Thus all companies use chemicals by virtue of the products they purchase, use and sell. Buildings are also part of the “products” that organizations buy, from the shell to the interior components, such as flooring, wall coverings and chairs.

Allegheny County Health Department (PA) 2012-2013 Environmental Poster Contest

Four students in grades 6-8 are winners in ACHD’s 14th Annual Environmental Poster Contest, held each year in commemoration of Earth Day.

The theme of this year’s contest was “Pollution Prevention Starts With You!”

Students were asked to create 11″x17″posters that will show us what they can do to prevent pollution in their own home, school, or neighborhood.

View the winning posters at http://www.achd.net/air/2013postercontest/.

ICYMI: The Good, Bad and Ugly on Earth Day 2013

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Hello. Sigh. Happy Earth Day.

You’ll forgive me if there’s only so much enthusiasm I can generate for this event, the one day when people explicitly acknowledge and even celebrate the environment, and the day that loads and loads of companies explicitly attempt to capitalize on that acknowledgement and celebration.

As much as this “holiday” fills me with dread and despair — such that we regularly need to blow off steam here on GreenBiz by skewering the worst of the bandwagoneers — there’s also only so much dismay and disdain I can generate for what are, by and large, well-intentioned if unfortunate efforts to support Earth Day.

Earth Day and the polling of America, 2013

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Here’s the most noteworthy finding among the spring 2013 crop of surveys and polls on Americans’ environmental attitudes: “Millennials Pretend to Care About the Environment,” a headline from DDB’s most recent Life Style Study that concluded, “When it comes to being environmentally friendly, Millennials are talking the talk, but not walking the walk.”

So much for the incoming class of citizens and consumers.

That’s par for the course, it seems. My seventh annual sampling of the crop of environmental opinion data that blossoms each year in the run-up to Earth Day doesn’t offer much reason for optimism. (Here’s a link to last year’s report, which also contains links to my annual posts going back to 2007.) The overall field of surveys, as far as I can tell, has declined over the past year or so, likely reflecting a drop in interest in the topic by marketers.

Is Sustainability Even Possible?

Read the full story in Scientific American.

Some questions to ponder on Earth Day: how much of an environmental problem is the growing human population? And is the problem too many people or the throwaway culture of too many things?

A new paper in the journal Science attempts to assess the burdens placed on people and the planet by individuals’ decisions to have large families and/or consume a lot.

Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award deadline is approaching

Just a reminder that the deadline for applying for the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award is getting closer. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 31, 2013.

Details and application information can be found on the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center website at http://www.istc.illinois.edu/info/govs_awards.cfm or contact Deb Jacobson at 630-472-5019, djacobso@illinois.edu.

Climate Change and the Water Industry

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Climate change is affecting weather patterns and the world’s ecosystem and, in particular, posing serious challenges to the world’s water supply.  Climate change is having a profound effect on how communities can reliably access clean water, causing poor water quality and scarcity and putting significant stress on the water infrastructure.