news & media (1144)
The view from a small aircraft brings environmental problems into focus. Long-term CarbonFree® Partner LightHawk is devoted to assisting environmental protection efforts through the unique perspective of flight. LightHawk provides aerial services as a tool to help protect land, water and wildlife in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and parts of Canada to a wide variety of organizations working on conservation issues.
As part of its commitment to environmental protection, LightHawk has maintained CarbonFree® operations for the past six years, neutralizing the emissions from all business travel and the fuel consumed by LightHawk flights. As a CarbonFree® Partner, LightHawk has neutralized over 3.3 million pounds of carbon emissions, equivalent to the quantity of carbon dioxide sequestered by over 38,000 tree seedlings grown for ten years.
"Based on LightHawk’s commitment to the environment, we feel it is our responsibility to adhere to sustainable practices in our emissions, including all flights done by our volunteer pilots,” explains Rudy Engholm, LightHawk’s Executive Director. “LightHawk believes that by partnering with Carbonfund.org, we are truly making a contribution towards removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."
Founded in 1979, LightHawk is a nonprofit organization that provides donated flights through a network of volunteer pilots to more than 250 partner conservation groups throughout Central and North America each year. The aerial view provided by LightHawk flights lends itself particularly well to issues that benefit from a large-scale perspective, particularly protection of wildlife migration corridors, monitoring illegal uses of protected lands, and species-specific scientific research and protection efforts. Carbonfund.org congratulates LightHawk on achieving its sixth year CarbonFree® and for continuing its important work in providing donated flight services to environmental protection and conservation groups.
Summer is here, and the “weekend warriors” are out in force, perfecting their manicured suburban lawns. Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for up to 5% of the nation's air pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces as much volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions air pollution in one hour of operation as eleven new cars each being driven for one hour.
Environmentally-responsible lawn care companies are innovating ways to reduce and eliminate the harmful emissions associated with meticulous lawn maintenance, and new CarbonFree® Business Partner Gone Green Maui is leading the way.
Gone Green Maui is committed to offering an eco-friendly alternative to traditional landscape maintenance. They offer all natural control applications for weeds, insects, diseases and fungus. All fertilizers and soil amendments are made from natural products to prevent the pollution to the water supply. And now, Gone Green Maui has taken a further step by neutralizing its remaining operational emissions through the CarbonFree® Partnership program.
"Gone Green Maui is committed to reducing the carbon footprint associated with landscape maintenance and is happy to have become a member of Carbonfund.org to offset the carbon we are unable to reduce currently," states Sean T. Woods, Owner of Gone Green Maui.
By supporting Carbonfund.org’s global forestry projects, Gone Green Maui mitigates its own emissions while contributing to important forest preservation and restoration efforts, thus leading its industry in environmentally aware actions.
Among other good news on the climate change front this week, renewable energy is projected to exceed gas by 2016. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2016 global electricity generation from wind, solar, hydro and other forms of renewable power will eclipse that from natural gas – and should be double that provided by nuclear plants.
The IEA points to a surge in renewables led by emerging economies such as China, which accounts for 40 percent of the projected global growth in renewables between 2012 and 2018. Although this is positive, we’re not out of the woods yet if we want to avoid the 2 degree Celsius increase threshold that scientists predict could lead to permanent changes to ecosystems. China still relies heavily on coal, and not just for electricity generation. The country also depends on the fossil fuel for steel production and making fertilizers, which generate large amounts of greenhouse gases. Even aggressive expansion of renewables and nuclear power leaves China using coal for up to half of its total energy needs by 2050.
In the U.S., a boom in shale gas production is stunting efforts to expand renewables. European growth of renewables has also slowed. But the new economic powerhouses of China, India and Brazil are leading the charge, which sweetens the overall global renewable picture.
However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking the future is rosier than it seems. On the surface, these projections paint a picture where natural gas fills in for a decade or two while we build a low-carbon future based around renewables. That is certainly a likely scenario, but it requires the support of long-term policies in many countries to encourage sufficient investment in renewable power plants.
The problem is that policy uncertainty leads to building gas-fired plants that have a lifetime of three to four decades. This makes it difficult to phase out fossil fuels on the timescale needed to avoid dangerous global warming, which requires major cuts from 2030 onwards. In fact, the IEA itself warned in its 2011 edition of World Energy Outlook that fossil-fuel plants due to be built over the next five years are already likely to lock the planet into 2°C of warming.
So how can we fix this problem? Energy analysts say we need long-term assurances to investors that renewable plants being built now will deliver a better economic return than those fired by coal or natural gas. It’s a weakness of U.S. President Barack Obama's climate plan, announced earlier this week, which lacks the long-term targets that could be set if Congress would pass new legislation.
The stakes are high. We need significant changes in existing proposals for policy. Otherwise the chances are slim that we’ll avoid surpassing the 2 degree Celsius increase threshold climatologists warn will alter the lives of billions of people.
Throughout 2013, Carbonfund.org will be recognizing our business partners who are reaching their fifth and sixth years as CarbonFree® Partners. Part of this recognition includes special tree-plantings, 10 for each partnership year, by Carbonfund.org in honor of each of these anniversary Partners.
The CarbonFree® Business Partnership and this special tree-planting commemoration augment the environmental responsibility that many of our business partners exhibit in their ongoing operations. One such partner, LATHER, producing skin care products that inspire a healthier more radiant life, maintains various sustainability initiatives as part of their environmental commitment.
LATHER offers its customers an in-store packaging recycling program and has pursued more environmentally sustainable plastic packaging made with EcoPure, an organic compound that accelerates natural biodegradation in plastics.
Since 2008, LATHER has partnered with Carbonfund.org to offset the carbon footprint of their corporate office. To date, LATHER has offset over 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions through projects supporting renewable energy, methane destruction, and reforestation. This equates to the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered each year by almost 16 acres of US forests.
When notified of the 50 trees planted for their 2013 CarbonFree® anniversary, our friends at LATHER pointed out that the traditional five year anniversary theme is wood.
LATHER acknowledged the benefits of tree planting efforts and the wide range of ecosystem services that trees contribute, including their ability to:
- Produce oxygen - without which life would not be possible
- Absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to mitigate climate change
- Improve local air and water quality by filtering pollutants
- Restore biodiversity while providing habitat and nutrition for wildlife
- Control flooding by minimizing runoff and topsoil loss
- Protect against storms such as Southeast Asia’s monsoons and hurricanes in the Caribbean
- Help regulate water and nutrient cycles (e.g., phosphorous and nitrogen)
- Create jobs managing tree nurseries, planting and care
- Provide various aesthetical, spiritual and cultural benefits to local communities
We're proud to partner with LATHER to help them continue their commitment to environmental sustainability and to helping others lead a more radiant life.
The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program attracts companies of all sizes that are committed to environmental responsibility in their operations. The Carbonfund.org motto of “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t®” resonates with our business partners, who take deliberate steps first to lower their operational emissions before neutralizing those they cannot eliminate.
A new CarbonFree® Partner, Born Custom Guitars, was attracted to the program for this very reason. Born Custom Guitars already maintains sustainable business practices within their custom-made electric guitar manufacturing processes. Their mission is to build the highest quality instruments available while being stewards of the environment and their community.
The folks at Born Custom Guitars believe that music has the ability to create positive change in the world, so they set out to ensure that their guitars do the same by providing their industry with an example for how to manufacture guitars in a more sustainable manner. To achieve this goal, Born Guitars are built only with woods that are either salvaged, reclaimed, or sustainably sourced, and are finished with natural oils or water-based lacquers. Their manufacturing methods were designed to minimize the amount of wasted wood during manufacturing.
Despite these efforts, Born Guitars recognized that they still create carbon dioxide emissions through the shipping and manufacturing of their custom guitars. In order to neutralize their remaining operational emissions, Born Custom Guitars joined the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program.
“While our sustainable sourcing and manufacturing initiatives alone can’t completely neutralize our company’s impact on the environment, our purchasing of carbon offsets and partnership with Carbonfund.org gets us as close as possible,” explains Campbell Davis, CMO and Co-Founder of Born Custom Guitars. “We chose to partner with Carbonfund.org because they are a third party audited, non-profit organization that maintains transparency in all facets of their operation.”
Carbonfund.org welcomes Born Custom Guitars to the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program, and we commend their commitment to sustainable custom-made guitar manufacturing.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation industry continues to contribute approximately 28% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Yet, transportation services are a necessary part of commerce, recreation and daily life for most. While fuel efficiency standards and gas conservation driving techniques help, emissions from the transportation sector likely will be impossible to eliminate.
Leaders in transportation services recognize the importance of maintaining environmentally responsible programs to reduce operational emissions. Carbonfund.org’s business partner Event Transportation Associates (ETA) exemplifies this leadership, reaching its fifth year as a CarbonFree® Business Partner.
ETA is a national transportation management company specializing in hotel shuttles, meet-and-greet services and VIP moves. ETA has designed and operated transportation systems for some of the largest international sporting, convention, and political events in the world. Their clients have included the World Olympics, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association All Star Games, Harley-Davidson, the Consumer Electronics Design and Installation Association, and various other corporate and association groups.
“ETA is committed to reducing our carbon footprint with the assistance of Carbonfund.org. As a small business in the transportation industry, we are proud of our partnership with Carbonfund.org and the opportunities they offer,” states Kelly Clark, Vice President of ETA. “Carbonfund.org's statement of reducing what you can and offsetting what you can't fits our corporate mission of being a responsible partner to the environment. As a leader in the transportation management industry, we feel it is our responsibility to limit our mark on the environment through positive programs such as Carbonfund.org. We are excited to work with Carbonfund.org on reducing the footprint of the transportation services we provide."
By supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean air technology and carbon reduction projects over the past five years as a CarbonFree® Business Partner, ETA has neutralized almost 450,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s equivalent to the emissions created by burning over 22,600 gallons of gasoline. This continuous commitment to environmental responsibility confirms ETA’s position as a clear leader in sustainable national transportation management services.
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For visitors to the greater Chicago area and the locals who’ve endured a long winter, a big three-season draw is the Lake Michigan waterfront. Among the popular waterfront pastimes are the various Chicago River and Lake Michigan boat cruises that provide passengers with views of the Chicago skyline, architectural tours, dinner cruises, and on-board wedding and special event celebrations.
To help protect and preserve the Lake Michigan resource, the environmentally-focused passenger will consider a cruiseline’s attention to environmental responsibilities and fuel conservation when booking their tour. CarbonFree® Partner Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline will stand out as a leader in this area.
As part of their extensive sustainability initiatives, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline has partnered with Carbonfund.org to measure and neutralize their annual carbon dioxide emissions. Office energy usage, business travel and employee commuting emissions, as well as all fuel used by the cruise ships throughout 2012, were included in the emissions calculations. The resulting total annual operational emissions were mitigated by corresponding donations to support Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy and reforestation projects.
The CarbonFree® Business Program status joins many other environmentally conscious initiatives followed by the Chicago-based cruiseline company. Since 2006, all vessels have used B-11 biodiesel fuel, saving more than 4,000 gallons of imported crude oil per year. Their newest vessel, Chicago’s Leading Lady, added to the fleet in 2011, is equipped with computerized energy-efficient engines that help the boat save over 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.
Chicago’s First Lady Cruises encourages their passengers to join an active office and operations recycling program by recycling their onboard maps for future guests. Dockside waste bins are constructed of recycled plastic milk containers, and beverage cans and bottles are collected onboard and dockside for recycling. Promotional materials are printed by CarbonFree® Partner Digital Hub, voted Chicago’s Greenest Printer, with soy-based inks and recycled papers. All employees are encouraged to ride their bike, walk or commute to work by using public transit, and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruisline encourages its staff to participate in the employee public transit reimbursement program.
This focus on measures to protect the waterways its passengers enjoy demonstrates a firm commitment to environmental stewardship by Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline, and Carbonfund.org is glad to participate in these efforts.
Some may think jellyfish are simply a pesky problem when we want to take a swim or snorkel, but they are actually a sign of flagging oceanic health. We think of them as the canary in the coal mine. The difference is the canary dies when there is a problem, but jellyfish flourish in the conditions that global warming wreaks on our oceans.
Climate change heats and acidifies the planet’s oceans. Overfishing adds to the first two major problems. All three contribute to creating an ideal environment for jellyfish to thrive and multiply. So what’s the big deal if there are too many jellyfish?
The issue is that jellyfish take a bad situation and make it worse. They have a unique trait where they’re able to eat up the food chain. This is surprising considering these sea creatures don’t even have brains. However, they actually can consume animals that are bigger, smarter and faster than they are. They damage the ecosystem further by competing with large mammals, such as whales, by feeding on the same fish and plankton that these other animals need to survive.
Marine expert Lisa-ann Gershwin wrote the new book Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. She points to an example where jellyfish wiped out an entire food chain simply by eating from the bottom up.
The jellyfish species Mnemiopsis leidyi was accidentally introduced into the Black Sea in the early 1980s. In just a few short years, these jellyfish comprised “95 per cent of the biomass in the Black Sea”. This means “ninety-five per cent of every living thing was this one species of jellyfish”.
Jellyfish could rule our planet’s oceans as they once did in the Precambrian era. A time when biodiversity was low, the jellyfish commanded the oceans, and mammals and reptiles did not exist. This is a scary eventuality, that our feet are firmly planted on the path towards. We need to heed the warnings that these gelatinous invertebrates provide and begin seriously reducing our carbon footprints and offsetting the rest of our carbon emissions.
As June’s temperatures start to rise in Miami, visitors and locals seek out a respite from the heat. And with all the news reports of climate change’s impact on the heavily-populated cities along the US eastern seaboard, the environmentally-aware customers will choose to patronize area businesses that take responsibility for their environmental impact.
For the past four years, these eco-customers have had the option to visit the tea oasis at specialTEA Lounge & Café, created with the planet and people in mind. Owners Marilyn Morales and Chris Infante are extremely conscious of their impact on the environment. Since opening the café, Chris and Marilyn have been teaching through example about sustainability initiatives, selecting local and organic products, and being as earth-friendly as possible. They use local organic ingredients and materials whenever possible, use eco-friendly compostable containers and utensils, and choose paper products made with 100% post-consumer-recycled content. The café is equipped with energy-saving LED light bulbs, an energy-saving water-heater, a water-saving dual-flush toilet as well as an ExtremeAir® hand-dryer.
This year, specialTEA Lounge & Café took an important additional step in their sustainability plan by joining the CarbonFree® Business Partnership and mitigating their annual operational carbon emissions.
“No matter how eco-conscious we are in our decisions, there are still aspects of our business that are beyond our control,” explains Christian Infante, co-owner of specialTea Lounge. “For those reasons, we have chosen to partner with Carbonfund.org, a leader in carbon offsetting, to offset any carbon emissions we generate in the course of our business operations.”
SpecialTEA Lounge & Café patrons can enjoy a pot of tea or a cooling frappé with friends over a game of chess, relax with a book on the comfy couches, or use the free wi-fi while noshing on sweet or savory treats at the café. With over 60 premium fresh loose leaf teas, certified Organic Fair Trade™ and locally roasted coffee, frappés, bottled and hand-craft sodas, homemade pastries, desserts and an array of delicious made to order panini, salads and wraps, there’s something for everyone. And customers can be environmentally-assured, knowing that specialTEA Lounge maintains CarbonFree® operations and a commitment to sustainability.
You would think that out of all the industries in the world, the one that would be most concerned with climate change would be the insurance industry. Take a look at the costs for Superstorm Sandy alone. The extreme hurricane caused damage estimated at nearly $75 billion. According to a press release last month by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 2012 cost insurers $35 billion in privately insured property losses, which is $11 billion more than the average over the last decade.
Insurers, and the reinsurance companies that shoulder much of the ultimate risk in the industry, heavily rely on scientific thought and not which way the political wind is blowing on global warming. They are comfortable with the scientific consensus that the rampant burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of climate change. Despite their confidence, the question remains, what is the insurance industry doing about global warming considering the problem directly impacts their own interests?
Surprisingly, the answer is not much. Insurers mainly focus on zoning regulations and disaster alleviation since the industry is disinclined to enter energy policy’s controversial fray. Furthermore, insurers are more insulated from climate change’s devastation than at first meets the eye. The federal government covers flood insurance, which is an enormous risk during extreme weather. Additionally, insurers adjust to higher risks by raising premiums or dropping coverage. So successfully that despite Superstorm Sandy and the protracted drought that ravaged the Midwest Corn Belt, property and casualty insurance in the United States was more profitable in 2012 than in 2011.
However, there are signs that the insurance industry is looking increasingly favorably on a carbon tax. The true costs are placed on the polluters with a carbon tax rather than being passed on to the rest of us. Also, they’re encouraged to pollute less. Most insurers would prefer a carbon tax over a host of additional regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although the industry is warming to the idea of a carbon tax, they’re still hesitant to throw all of their weight behind it. Again, money talks; insurers haven’t yet experienced heavy losses from climate change. The exception is 2004 and 2005 when a series of hurricanes including Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, caused damage worth more than $200 billion.
So the bottom line is that if these storms continue to hit people and businesses in the wallet, then eventually even the staunchest global warming disbelievers will admit the obvious. However, we need to do what we can in the meantime to avert global disaster. We don’t want to pass the point of no return.