Can NASA’s far-out travel plans bring sustainability to Spaceship Earth?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

America’s space agency is going long. Its next generation of explorations will send travelers on journeys beyond the moon, to Mars and maybe beyond.

What on Earth does this have to do with sustainability? In a word: Everything.

In its quest to explore the great unknown, NASA is encountering a new set of challenges. Among them is how tomorrow’s travelers can sustain life for long periods of time — far more than today’s residents of the International Space Station are likely to endure. And, unlike the Space Station, their journeys will take them so far from the blue planet that they won’t be reachable via resupply missions or repair or rescue vehicles.

So, they’ll have to take what they can in order to be self-sufficient, perhaps for years.

All of which requires a new generation of technologies to provide everything from life’s essentials such as breathable air, clean water, energy and food; to everyday comforts, such as clean clothes and personal hygiene; to tools and materials that astronauts will need to build things when they get where they’re going to set up shop on another heavenly body. All using ingredients and materials that are nontoxic, efficient and that can be endlessly put back into service.

UN Zero Hunger Challenge

From the web site:

Eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection, and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all – especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under the age of two. The United Nations Secretary-General gives top priority to the elimination of hunger. He appreciates the bold leadership by many from governments, the UN System, civil society, business, labour unions, consumer groups and the scientific community. They succeed through working together.

The Zero Hunger Challenge encourages participation by a range of organizations, social movements and people around a common vision. They promote effective strategies, more investments and increased development cooperation, in line with existing national and international agreements. They strive for results and are accountable for their efforts – particularly to those who are hungry.

Join the Challenge by signing the Declaration.

A New Face at the Helm of The Oldest U.S. Green Group

Read the full interview at Yale Environment360.

The Sierra Club has chosen Aaron Mair as its president, the first African-American to lead the largest U.S. environmental organization. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about the lack of diversity in the environmental movement and what can be done to change that.

The trouble with inequality

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The Wall Street bonus pool for last year was roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who worked full time at the federal minimum wage.

The New York State Comptroller recently reported that the size of the bonus pool paid to securities industries employees in New York City was $28.5 billion. Dividing this total among 167,800 workers yields an average bonus of $172,860, which seems plausible enough. For sure, some received much, much bigger bonuses, and many received nothing.

What about the total earnings of full-time workers at the federal minimum wage? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 1.03 million full-time workers paid an hourly wage of $7.25 or less. These people tend to work around 40 hours a week on average. If they all earn $7.25 per hour and work 50 weeks per year, the total earnings of this group come to nearly $15 billion.

Put another way, we now live in a society and participate in an economy where the total earnings of all full-time U.S. workers in earning the federal minimum wage, make only half of what 167,800 Masters of the Financial Universe earn in bonuses alone.

Bonuses are also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to widening income inequality. The issue of grossly uneven economic opportunity underscores much more fundamental dysfunction in the status quo.

Even as cities across the country begin to undertake lofty debates over climate resilience and decoupling economic growth from environmental impacts, long-entrenched patterns of dire income disparities — along with glaring patterns of social injustice where poor people are hit hardest by pollution — make it clear that our society is far from sustainable in many respects.

The military spy turned sustainability warrior – drones have come of age

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Drones have come a long way, from their military origins as sinister hardware for spying and remote warfare to their more recent use by conservation charities monitoring whaling ships and rare bird nests.

This year’s Drones for Good awards finalists included social enterprises hoping to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deliver vaccinations in Africa, provide better planning in India’s slums and help with international disaster relief planning.

Andrew Revkin on energy, politics, species adolescence and the fate of the Earth

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Revkin was the keynote speaker at the Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Program’s “Fate of the Earth” symposium April 1. The conference schedule was filled with leading researchers on sustainability issues who all addressed the same theme that Revkin explores in his blog: How will the human race sustain itself on a planet with dwindling resources?