The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed this week that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in America’s contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895. Despite this fact, news coverage of climate change actually declined in 2012. According to The Daily Climate, worldwide climate coverage decreased by two percent between 2011 and 2012, which represented the fewest number of published stories since 2009.
Last year the US was experience droughts in more than just rainfall. During the presidential election there were accusations of a “climate silence” until Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast in the days leading up to the election. In President Obama’s acceptance speech he said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
However, President Obama’s statement has not reassured everyone that he and Congress are going to make any meaningful efforts to tackle carbon pollution and climate change. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters and a coalition of 70 environmental organizations recently wrote an open letter to President Obama, which encouraged him to spotlight climate change during his second term. A quote from the letter includes, "Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership and credibility, enabling [President Obama] to create clean energy jobs in the United States while forging an effective international coalition to cut global carbon pollution."
Whether or not President Obama and Congress heed the global warming warning signs, the bright spot is that local governments are undertaking real strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change right now. ICLEI USA, a network of local governments working to address climate and sustainability challenges, recently highlighted 20 communities across the continental US that are leading the efforts to plan for the future and respond to extreme weather. Some particularly prominent examples by local governments include:
- Atlanta, GA – Urban heat island effects worsened by hotter seasons. Addressing the problem with a climate action plan, including cool roof/pavement standards and 10,000 new planted shade trees.
- Chicago, IL – Responding to extreme heat and flooding with the milestone Chicago Climate Action Plan and the most installed green roof square footage in the country.
- Eugene, OR – Ravaged by major wildfires and mega-dry conditions. Mitigating these issues by increasing water conservation, reducing hydroelectric power demand and planting drought-resistant trees.
- Miami Dade Count y, FL – Known as the most vulnerable city in the world to sea level rise as demonstrated by severe flooding. Urban planning now addresses sea level rise and disaster response, and they’re also investing millions in flood mitigation projects.
- New York, NY – Suffered $19 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Taking positive action with a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan, restoring barrier wetlands, and initiating a climate risk assessment requirement for new developments.
It’s wonderful to see these steps being taken towards a more sustainable future. It would be even better if federal leadership ensues, taking their cues from local governments. Media silence or not, climate change is here and further delayed action will only result in catastrophic results. The time is now to secure a low carbon global economy and thereby the planet for current and future generations.
2013 marks the sixth consecutive year that Flavorus, one of the world’s largest event tickets distributor, has maintained a CarbonFree® Business environment. With global awareness of the environment at critical mass, Flavorus changed every aspect of its operations to give the Earth its due TLC. First, they cleaned up their own house: reducing waste, implementing aggressive recycling efforts, replacing incandescent lighting, and a host of other modifications to its daily operational practices. Then Flavorus asked the same of their clients by promoting their paperless will-call ticket delivery and order placement. Finally, Flavorus has taken the progressive step to neutralize its remaining carbon footprint for the past six years by supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction and clean air technology projects around the world.
"Since its inception 10 years ago, Flavorus has looked for progressive business practices. We are proud to be the first in our industry to make environmental responsibility part of our identity," explains Todd Sims, CEO.
Flavorus uses a high volume “Jetstream” application that can process 150,000 tickets in 10 seconds per event. Clients also can customize their Flavorus event page to match the company’s own website and marketing style, and can embed ticket sales system directly into website with custom widgets. And Flavorus features e-ticketing, which reduces the labor, paper, mailing and costs associated with printing and mailing tickets to buyers.
“Our transformation involved three critical phases: cleaning up our operations, bringing our customers and clients on board, and partnering with a carbon offset organization to help fund environmental projects around the globe,” emphasizes Sims. “With focus and determination, every individual can make a difference and reverse the damage being done to the environment. We only have one planet, and we’re committed to keeping it green.”
Carbonfund.org is thrilled to continue our partnership with Flavorus and encourages every business to examine the steps they can take today to help protect our environment by reducing and neutralizing harmful carbon emissions.
Rare gemstones and beautiful jewelry have long captured the admiration of cultures around the world, but as is often the case, the industries behind highly-prized items such as gems and jewels require energy-intensive and environmentally damaging mining and manufacturing processes. “Rare Earth Element” mining involves an expensive and protracted process to “find and prove” the source location, develop a mine construction and operation plan, obtain funding, then pursue the permitting for the mine, which will typically require a positive environmental impact study including post-operation mine closure and environmental restoration.
While not able to solve the entire mining industry’s emissions challenges, CarbonFree® Business Partner Sastaa made a commitment six years ago to take responsibility for its own environment impact by neutralizing its operational emissions. Sastaa is a Dutch import and wholesale business specializing in rubies, sapphires and emeralds. For the past six years, Sastaa as a company and owner Dan Thu Nguyen as a private individual have mitigated annual operational carbon emissions from office energy consumption and business-related travel by supporting Carbonfund.org’s global reforestation projects.
“A carbon-free commitment is a crucial part of the total commitment to an ethical and healthy life," states Dan Thu. Sastaa’s example of forward-thinking leadership and assumption of responsibility is characteristic of the long-term CarbonFree® Business Partners we will be featuring this year. If your business has not taken steps to institute a meaningful sustainability program that includes carbon emissions mitigation, take a look at our CarbonFree® Business Partnership program for 2013 – a simple and affordable way to help fight the negative impacts of climate change and hasten the transition to a ZeroCarbon™ world.
According to a recently released report by the World Wildlife Fund, 58 of the United States’ Fortune 100 companies set goals in 2012 to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions or use more renewable energy in their operations. However, oil and gas companies are lagging far behind in this movement. Eight of 11 domestic energy companies on the Fortune 100 have not set internal energy goals.
This is in direct contrast to 68 of the planet’s 100 largest companies who recognize the impact of global warming and are making investments in greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy goals. Sadly, energy companies represent the lowest participation rate of any industry worldwide. The few exceptions are Hess and Chevron who have both set renewable energy and greenhouse gas targets, and ExxonMobil who set a greenhouse gas target.
Why have three quarters of the nation's industrial companies voluntarily set some sort of environmental target? There are a variety of potential reasons including: policy pressures, public relations or perhaps even the forward thinking that sees renewable energy’s potential to someday be less expensive than, or at least competitive with, oil and gas.
And why haven’t most oil and gas companies voluntarily set environmental targets? It may be because the very products they put on the market directly contribute to climate change. There is also a lack of urgency to act; little pressure comes from investors or policies. An example of a type of policy that was successful in the past is the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, which worked by making large companies publically accountable for which potentially toxic chemicals they use and where they are released. Then the information is posted on the EPA’s website for anyone to see.
The planet would really benefit from a similar policy focusing on oil and gas company emissions, or better yet, a broader climate change policy such as a national carbon tax or cap-and-trade program. There are other options that could pave the way towards a cleaner energy future. The federal government could require that a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable sources and offer further tax incentives for wind and solar production. Many companies are setting their own internal goals, but for others such as the majority of the oil and gas industry, they’re not going to do anything about increasing efficiency and reducing their carbon footprints until someone makes them.
This year offered several events that shone a spotlight directly on the important and urgent issue of climate change, but the question remains, “Was it enough to bring about meaningful efforts to reduce climate change?”
June of 2012 presented the United Nations Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which disappointed many as international representatives hemmed and hawed instead of establishing true endeavors to tackle global warming. Meanwhile the continental United States embarked on summer heat waves that were some of the hottest in its history.
This year also saw drought cover more than half the country; farmers suffered as their crops and animals died.
Then October of 2012 brought superstorm Sandy, this year’s biggest example of extreme weather and a deadly harbinger of the devastating effects of climate change. Can we continue to sit idly by in the face of all these signs that global warming is making broad changes to our planet? Should we leave these environmental problems for our children to face as we continue down an unsustainable path?
The close of the year is a time to reflect on the previous events of the year and make resolutions for the coming year. Let’s pledge to make 2013 the year where we confront climate change in every possible way. We can all embark on energy efficiency efforts; reducing what we can and lowering our carbon footprints. Every bit helps. Then it is a powerful combination to offset the rest of our carbon emissions. It would be a genuine shame to let the lessons of this past year slip from our consciousness while there is still time and so much that can and should be done to address climate change.
The Earth cannot use words to speak for itself, but if it could what would be on its climate wishlist this holiday season?
Environmental activists and climate scientists have done a good job of communicating the risks of climate change. Part of the issue is that it’s a delicate balance between scaring people so thoroughly that they don’t think there is anything they can do about global warming and encouraging people to make any changes that positively impact the environment, even small ones to start. Perhaps we’ve also underestimated the importance of personal experience.
The facts on climate change alone are not enough. We’ve had solid, scientific evidence for many years that global warming is man-made and happening right now. However, many people need to experience the effects for themselves in order for the light bulb to go off in their heads. Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events are helping people to connect the dots, but now that process has begun the question then becomes, “What next?”
We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. That is what the climate needs and wants this holiday season. There are two main changes that we can undertake to fulfill the planet’s climate wishlist. The first is to lower our carbon footprints. Ask yourself, do I really need to leave my lights on all day at home when I am not there? Can I combine trips in the car to drive less or take public transportation instead? What simple steps can I take to save energy and myself some money as well?
The second change is to offset the rest of your carbon footprint. There are many affordable options to make this holiday season a reality, not just for the planet, but for future generations also. Any positive steps you take are welcome and really do make a difference. Although the planet cannot use words to thank you, reducing what you can and offsetting the rest is a beautiful gift and a wonderful place to start this holiday season.
For the past 85 years of operation, and the past five years as a CarbonFree® Business Partner, Neugart USA LP has upheld its commitment to tradition, precision, innovation and sustainability in order to deliver high quality planetary servo-gear-heads to its manufacturing and packaging customer base.
From its beginning, manufacturing gears for the watch and clock industry, through the development of small gears and customized planetary gears for step motors in the 60s and 70s, to today’s high precision servo-gears for high-tech automated manufacturing operations, Neugart has remained committed to operating in an environment that is as environmentally sustainable as possible.
“In line with our goal to become “carbon neutral," we commit to minimize the carbon footprint of our processes, and offset where elimination is not feasible yet,” explains Gerhard Anthony of Neugart.
Neugart’s CarbonFree® Business status is unusual for the gear manufacturing business, and this differentiator remains an important element in Neugart’s strategy to best serve its customers. 2013 will mark Neugart’s sixth year in partnership with Carbonfund.org, supporting reforestation and biodiversity preservation projects around the world.
As part of the US economic recovery, residential housing market values and housing starts are watched closely as a key indicator to economic growth and stability. Last week, Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for December, showing projections for modest but steady gains in both home value and housing starts in 2013.
These projections are good news for US home owners and for the thousands of businesses that depend upon new home construction, renovations, and an active home buyer/seller market. CarbonFree® Business Partner Clear Estimates is one of these businesses; one that has maintained a five-year commitment to operating in a carbon emissions-neutral environment.
Clear Estimates, a father-son owned and operated business with three decades of experience, offers a cloud-based construction estimating software that enables contractors and home renovators to manage efficient and cost-effective home building and improvements projects. Clear Estimates allows contractors to accurately anticipate the labor, materials, and their related costs that will be required for all aspects of a construction project and automatically drafts professional proposals ready for client presentation.
The Clear Estimates website serves as the business storefront, and their products are only distributed digitally. For the past three years Clear Estimates has implemented a “paperless” operational philosophy, limiting its carbon emissions footprint to the electrical energy required to run the computers and servers used for developing the product and supporting customers. To address the impact of their energy consumption emissions, Clear Estimates partnered with Carbonfund.org five years ago to neutralize their remaining operational emissions by supporting renewable energy projects each year.
"We chose Carbonfund.org because of its solid reputation," confirms Nolan Orfield. "As the leading nonprofit carbon offsetting organization it is clear they are a reliable resource for any business or individual hoping to protect our most important asset, the environment."