Forty years ago, Congress acknowledged the decades of impact federal activities had on the environment and laws were established to foster and protect future generations. The Council on Environmental Quality was established as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, and signed into law by President Nixon the following year. NEPA affirmed each person’s role in preserving the environment while emphasizing the leadership needed by the Federal Government. Yet our biggest challenge remains to solve the problem of continuing to power our global future without systematically destroying it through consumption.
Most recently at the 57th presidential inauguration, President Obama addressed the American public reminding us of his commitment to the environment and specifically the issue of climate change. Plagued by years of environmental bureaucracy and climate denial campaigns, climate change is no longer a controversial theory. In his second-term, the future of U.S. climate policy will be framed and become a critical part of our economic vitality.
In his inaugural speech, President Obama said,
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition—we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise.”
Last week The Colbert Report introduced a satirical view on global warming in “The New Abnormal”, stating there is no consensus on climate change as he focused on the absurdity of the problem. He documented the issue using media clips from FOX News featuring Donald Trump and CNN’s political contributor, Erick Erickson who said,
“What does it matter?” and continued, “The effects would take a hundred years to make a difference.” Erickson’s consensus, “It [climate change] seems like a problem we should just get used to… as opposed to something we can cure.”
Colbert closed the segment by stating,
“The only thing worse than global warming itself might be knowing we are destroying the planet and doing nothing about it.”
In the past, fear has been the primary motivator for climate initiatives, yet it motivates only for a short interval of time. Research suggests that it does not evoke genuine engagement or action in the long term. According to environmental strategist Michael Shellenberger, new thinking is necessary to properly address global warming. In order to accelerate the changing of consumers’ behaviors and consumption habits, innovation is needed and also efficient and less costly alternatives. To get clean energy, we must use cleaner sources and support products and services that sustain both our consumption requirements and the environment.
The framework must be about economic development in a ‘clean way’ while promoting environmental stewardship to engage behavior change and commit to it. Through large scale events such as the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco operating under the Port’s new ‘zero waste event policy’ and the Super Bowl XLVII ‘Geaux Green’ game are positive ways to increase public awareness. Brands and agencies must collaborate to create ways of incentivizing through competitions, grant opportunities and awards that spur awareness while also engaging the behavior. Communities must pledge to make a change and become the stewards of their environment for future generations.
Join us, let’s build communities for change.
Video: The Colbert Report
Author: Tamar Burton
The new year has arrived with a renewed hope for the environment as the private and public sectors direct their attention to the growing shift from “business as usual” to renewable energy technologies. Sustainability initiatives and climate change garnered mainstream attention following last year’s increase in natural disasters. It also positioned 2012 as the most extreme weather year on record for the lower 48 states, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
In the months following Sandy, the second costliest hurricane following Katrina with an estimated $62 billion in damage, many neighborhoods are still reeling in the after affects. Natural disasters have provided the needed catalyst for sustainability initiatives as great turmoil resulted in a newly discovered interest in the growing climate problem. The extreme weather events in 2012 summarize what scientists are predicting to be the “new normal” as the climate continues to warm. As city officials in New York and New Jersey focus on rebuilding, the Clean Tech Revolution is gaining relevance. An example of one opportunity that is focused on smart growth is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Cleaner Greener Communities Program. Launched in 2011, the program has established $100 million in competitive grants and plans to use innovative technologies to improve its economic, energy and environmental development while building sustainable communities.
With the advancements in clean technology, comes a need for greater social responsibility and increased stakeholder engagement. In the past months, we at Tradepal have engaged with various corporations, agencies and institutions to explore best practices to bridge the sustainability gap between consumers and businesses. The greatest disconnect we have noticed following the influx of social media and technological advancement, is how to accelerate consumer behavior change. According to psychologists Wendy Wood and David Neal, consumers often “act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little regard to current goals and valued outcomes.” When considering the adoption of new behaviors, it seems to come down to the intent and behavior of the individual.
In an effort to ignite behavior change, former President Bill Clinton appealed to advertising agencies last June at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. He asked advertisers to leverage the power they have to transcend their messaging and assist in shaping the future of our planet. In the digital age, sustainability is no longer a tree hugger concept. Organizations including start-ups, large corporations and state and local governments are embracing renewable energy, green transportation, electric motors, recycling and reuse initiatives as a means to create efficiencies while reducing our environmental footprint.
As we embark on 2013, the following concepts offer suggestions for transitioning consumers toward positive behavior change:
Video: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Author: Tamar Burton
Wishing you a very happy holiday with those you hold dear.
Happy Holidays from your Pal’s at Tradepal!
Today we took the pledge to Support Gun Violence Prevention in Honor the victims of Sandy Hook.
To join, visit Stand with Sandy Hook
The decision to use an online service to buy and sell peer-to-peer has become a tricky matter. The reasons for selling vary from moving, a need to reduce some clutter or a the need for cash. At first thought many choose Craigslist, the most familiar option that has been around for years. But while it may be the old standard, it isn’t necessarily a simple solution. The following case offers some insight on the many hurdles you may encounter when seeking to engage in a sales transaction with anonymous buyers.
Those who have used craigslist’s classifieds website are familiar with the unconventional ‘welcome message’ that arrives in your inbox confirming a new listing is ready to be activated, and also the warnings due to the many scammers who use the service as a host.
The following emails are from a recent experience using craigslist’s peer-to-peer online classifieds. After listing an item for sale, some unexpected email exchanges followed that included a prompt request from an interested buyer, two phone numbers and a story by a wife seeking to purchase a gift for her spouse.
The less experienced online shopper may think this is a normal message, when it is actually a phishing scam. Initially, the first response did not suggest fraud, but after three more emails were conveyed, and the presumed buyer requested the link to the seller’s PayPal account to be emailed asap, it became clear. Did this buyer truly intend to send $1,000 and a delivery truck without even speaking to the seller, seeing the items or asking the location of the items? To confirm my suspicions, I googled the phone number to see what came up and it was confirmed to be a phishing scam. Surprisingly a second phishing email was received two days later under the guise of a member of the military with a similar message. This version was from a so-called marine engineer:
Intending to reach holiday bargain hunters, this item was added to craigslist the week leading up to Thanksgiving. But in response, all but one of the lengthy dialogues received have been a version of the same scam, each stating a variant of these questions; Are you the first owner of it? Why are you selling it? When have you been using it?. Additionally, each email stated the lack of availability to speak or meet, but they would send a ‘pick-up agent’ once I provide my PayPal link. That week, the number of buyers who sent a phishing request in this format reached double digits. The only true buyers were very few and were requesting a bigger discount. Earlier this year Huffington Post offered some tips for shoppers in the following post, Craigslist Scams: Tips To Avoid Losing Money. The list of tips may cause you to rethink your decision to use the craigslist website altogether.
It is common nowadays for websites to use Facebook integration as a fast and secure way for users to sign in. This integration lowers the barrier to creating an account by enabling a 1-click process for new users, seamless logins for existing users while enabling users to quickly share updates to their profile from other sites. Popular media website CNN uses the service to enable users to sign up with a profile, and the soon-to-launch social entertainment platform Myspace is using Facebook’s sign-in to help users join the relaunch. Some well-known websites that also use Facebook identities include Spotify, Vimeo, Airbnb and Pinterest.
Tradepal, a trusted online marketplace, connects users through Facebook authentication while providing each user with total control of their connections and permissions. Tradepal’s trusted website integrates real identities upon sign-up, and makes it social by allowing users to recommend their listings, invite friends to be part of their network and also block unwelcome users. Real profiles allow users to provide information that enhances the user experience.
Users simply login using their Facebook credentials to save time and add safety. In one-click a Tradepal profile is created and the user can begin listing items, discovering others’ items and begin finding deals. While users can buy, sell and giveaway, they can also barter item for item. Tradepal’s mission is to create a safer experience that inspires consumers to reuse and recommerce with friends and network connections, rather than storing items they no longer need. By leveraging its’ trusted marketplace and integrating user identities, both buyers and sellers can determine who they are potentially trading with, and also identify mutual friends on the website prior to transacting. The use of the chat and messaging features enables users to safely communicate within the website when negotiating transactions. This safeguards the exchange of private information until a deal is struck.
Tradepal encourages formerly frustrated users to return to the online marketplace and to remove their unused items from storage facilities and to come back to the fun of peer-to-peer commerce. While free listing is one of the perks of online classifieds, personal safety is a must. Tradepal understands that scams and fraud can cause consumers to abandon peer-to-peer marketplaces, but by added real identities a layer of safety can be added. Tradepal attributes real identities as the primary deterrant of fraud as users take additional care when trading with others. With the additional safety features, trusted marketplaces like Tradepal have been embraced by users.
Kids call it ‘Turkey Day,’ but Thanksgiving is about more than just the turkey. It’s also about gratitude and spending time with family and friends. Remember to take a minute to thank someone for the role they play in your life.
We are all familiar with the terms climate change and global warming, yet the process of identifying the cause and then effectively agreeing on best practices to reduce the issue has been an ongoing dialogue for over three decades. While commitments to reduce environmental impacts vary, it is important to achieve a declining average carbon intensity, or amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed, from primary energy over time. These primary energy sources include fossil carbon fuels, solar energy, gravitational and rotational forces of tides and oceans, geothermal heat and wind energy are converted into energy carriers and then energy services. A major contributing factor to decarbonization is the substitution of cleaner fuels with low carbon content, with fossil fuels having a high carbon content.
How to limit warming to 2ºC
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) newly-published fourth edition of the Low Carbon Economy Index, we have not taken the necessary steps globally to increase the rate of emissions cuts in major emerging economies to effectively slow down the warming trend. The PwC points out the brevity of the situation in a world that is far from being on target to achieve a sustainable or resilient energy future:
"Our Low Carbon Economy Index evaluates the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy that is needed to limit warming to 2ºC. This report shows that global carbon intensity decreased between 2000 and 2011 by around 0.8% a year. In 2011, carbon intensity decreased by 0.7%. The global economy now needs to cut carbon intensity by 5.1% every year from now to 2050. Keeping to the 2ºC carbon budget will require sustained and unprecedented reductions over four decades. Governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2ºC appear highly unrealistic.”
Each year the global carbon budget is evaluated to assess the amount that has been ‘spent’ and how much emissions reductions are needed to achieve below the 2 target. The internationally agreed upon warming target of 2ºC above the pre-industrial levels which, according to analysts, is the threshold that could prevent the world from experiencing ‘at least six degrees of warming’ by the end of this century. The critical issue is that the 2º scenario is no longer valid. The PwC research stated that even if we achieve an improvement in our rate of decarbonization by six-fold, we still gain only a 50% chance of avoiding the 2 degree threshold. Note that an increase by 6ºC of warming is the equivalent to 10.8ºF.
An area of concern stems from the growing energy demands of emerging economies such as Russia, Mexico, and India. The rising GHG emissions from emerging economies have far exceeded the record decarbonization levels of industrial countries such as France, Germany and the U.K. According to the International Energy Agency, its figures published in May stated that CO2 emissions in 2011 rose to 31.6 gigatons, an increase of 3.2 per cent from 2010. Although many countries have stepped up their efforts to reduce emissions, without a radical policy shift we are on track for a warmer planet.
Opportunities for Low Carbon Technologies
For countries seeking new sources of economic growth, the next wave of growth could be derived from investment in low carbon technologies such as solar panels, electric cars, carbon capture and storage and innovation in biofuels. According to Reuters, in late 2010, China has committed to an investment of $1.5 trillion toward the advancement of seven strategic sectors through 2015. They identified several emerging sectors that accounted for approximately 3 per cent of the GDP at the end of 2010 which outpaced the growth of traditional industries. The strategic sectors include low carbon technologies, renewable energy, new-energy vehicles, bio-technology and next-gen IT.
PwC concluded that business-as-usual is not an option and cites the need for more urgency on climate policy. Much of the reporting on climate change is calmly described through published studies and scientific journals hoping to garner the attention of those who will change the predicted outcome. Upon reading the Rolling Stone article, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, one feels a jolt to reality and thinks beyond the daily bubble where we filter out the negative realities of life. What rings true is we have only one planet. As extreme weather events become more and more common, it is no longer someone else’s problem or experience we are reading about. Climate change has hit home and is the responsibility of consumers, policy makers and business as we enter a new age of uncertainty.
Just two years ago, the Climate Vulnerability Forum and DARA created a partnership to raise the profile of the impacts of climate change and with it the benefits of transitioning to a climate resilient low-carbon economy. Released in September, the 2nd edition of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor was developed to measure the global impact of climate change and the carbon economy at a national level. This latest monitor uses 34 climate and carbon related indicators to calculate and compare the vulnerability of 184 countries in 2010 and 2030, and covers four impact areas (environmental disasters, habit change, health impacts and industry stress).
Some climate inactivity findings include:
To add some perspective, based on the latest U.N. population projections, five billion people will live in urban areas by the year 2030. These cities of the future will not only bear the burden of climate change and its symptoms, including an increasing demand for power, transportation and sewage, but in another 20 years the population is estimated to almost double.
In recent months, the focus on the carbon economy has swelled following reports of extreme weather conditions. Although this climate issue has been recognized for years, it has been a challenge of translating information into action. Bloomberg has provided a list of sustainability indicators around energy investment, the growing cleantech sector and climate change, among others. The list also provided insight into how these areas are perceived by consumers. Here is a snapshot:
Following the growth of urbanization and the requisite consumerism that built our economy, to reverse that direction is an endeavor. While the impacts of climate change are continually being explored, proactive ventures to implement cleantech, reduce electricity demand and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and create jobs are growing. From its early emergence in the 1990s, cleantech was used to describe a group of emerging technologies. Since then, it has defined the shift from business as usual to the evolution of second-generation products or services to accommodate 21st century energy requirements. In 2007, this area received a record $148 billion in new funding in the midst of rising oil prices and climate change policies encouraging the focus on renewable energy.
An example of job creation is found in Sacramento where over $250 million in federal funding has been secured for clean technology and energy efficiency over the past 13 years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A leader in cleantech job creation, the region currently sustains over 14,000 jobs and has demonstrated success as an engine for job development and economic growth. By 2018, it is forecast that three clean technology sectors will amass revenues in excess of $325 billion, these include solar photovoltaics, wind power and biofuels. The increasing use of the natural resources of wind, sun and water will offer renewable energy opportunities as well as avenues to invest in the growing cleantech revolution. Investing in the resilience of our environment is essential, yet it will take a consolidated effort to implement clean technologies, create jobs and encourage economic growth.
Following years of consumerism, technology has offered new interpretations of ownership. Competitive services touting the benefits of “sharing” and “access over ownership” have gained ground as viable alternatives. Consumers have revisited past generations’ routines of sharing, swapping, lending, and bartering. Businesses are allowing access to both tangible items and less tangible assets of space and skills. Sharing services are progressively gaining traction in densely populated areas. However, the question remains as to whether they can cross to the mainstream and gain massive adoption?
Enacting consumer behavior change is a challenging endeavor. In a recent review of consumer behavior change, psychologists Wendy Wood and David Neal suggest that consumers often “act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little regard to current goals and valued outcomes.”
In contrast to ownership, the sharing economy while founded on the concepts of community and sharing, attempts to find value through financial savings for consumers. Like the sharing economy, sustainability initiatives are focused on advancing social equity. Both sustainability and the sharing economy minimize waste, optimize the allocation of resources and reduce carbon emissions with communities. When considering their adoption, however, it seems to come down to the intent and behavior of the individual.
Recent findings suggest that pro-environmental campaigns emphasizing financial savings (self-interested) over protecting the environment (self-transcending) have generally been ineffective. Although advocates promoted financial benefits in order to accelerate adoption of eco-friendly behaviors (i.e., saving energy results in lower bills), researchers Thogersen and Crompton found that financial incentives may make people less likely to carry out environmental actions in general. Self-interested values, such as economic welfare, wealth and power were found to be in conflict with the self-transcending values of protecting the environment.
Another study, conducted by researchers Fowler and Christakis, reveals that acts of kindness and generosity travel in social networks up to three degrees of separation. They believe that “cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks” and that “there is a deep and fundamental connection between social networks and goodness.” They added that “groups with altruists in them will be more likely to survive than selfish groups.”
The resounding message of the sharing economy is that it fosters relationships and builds communities. So far, it has focused primarily on the self-interested values of saving money and making money from the idle resources in order to appeal to consumers. The sharing economy should incorporate self-transcending values such as sustainability and goodness to its core message in order to achieve behavior change and cross to the mainstream.
Our mission, at Tradepal, is to power peer-to-peer commerce. Our goal is to contribute to building smarter communities. Our passion is to encourage the Forgotten R of the Environment: Reuse.
We empower users to bring ReUse back into the sustainability equation by providing a simple way to list, share and trade unused items.
At this year’s Leadership Keynote, at Dreamforce ‘12, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Gen. Colin Powell spoke with Marc Benioff in the packed Moscone conference hall. The candid talk offered attendees an opportunity to hear the vision of the two leaders regarding the future of job creation, entrepreneurship, cleantech and their views on climate change.
The following offers some takeaways from the hour-long talk:
On job creation:
Gen. Colin Powell:
"What we need is super people who will start examining the issues. Businesses create jobs, and the jobs that have gone aren’t necessarily coming back. We need to go up the ladder of sophistication and educate our kids for the jobs that will be in the United States."
[Regarding GE] “We’ve moved all the appliance production from Mexico and other countries back to Kentucky. A combination of the new manufacturing technologies plus better labor management relationships are going to open up another era of competitiveness for the United States.”
I think owning your own supply chain is a huge competitive advantage. The era of inexpensive labor is basically over. Today it’s all about markets. Being infront of your customer, having short cycle times, better speed, that’s what wins. Chasing low cost labor is yesterdays playbook.”
Toward the last quarter of the keynote, Marc Benioff directed the conversation to the topic of the environment by stating a big issue on everyone’s mind is the topic of global warming.
"We had a group of PHDs study climate science. Global warming is real, it is caused by man. It is hard to tell what the impacts will be… what it means for the polar ice caps.What the U.S. is good at is driving innovation. Seeing how the entrepreneurial spirit can help solve big problems. Anytime you can align innovation and commerce with a social need, things happen faster. If you can align entrepreneurship, innovation and science with a need - it is incredible to see the forces that take place.”
Gen. Colin Powell:
"We want energy independence. All the poor are coming up into the middle class 1 billion, 100 million, from industrialization. Demand for energy is going up. New sources of energy is needed."
I’m fully in agreement with you that global warming is real. I think it is indisputable. Surely, It it in our interests to cut back on the emissions we are throwing up there.”
On the topic of Green Technology:
"We invest more now in Ecomagination than we did before. We think over the long term this is a winner and we are long term players. Innovation is the power.
Entrepreneurship is the power. Identify the need, create one or two market mechanisms in between, let’s go!”
Directing the question to Jeff Immelt, Chairman of The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Benioff asked, “What does the evolution of the economy look like?
"The U.S. can completely own its energy future - it will be the shame of a lifetime if we don’t do it.This great resource that we have, I view it as a national strength, a job creator and an economic driver for the next decade.”
The concept of green cities encompasses not only public parks offering green spaces, fresh air and sparkling ponds, but also the acceleration of sustainable practices and policies. Many cities have integrated social, environmental and economic objectives while incorporating eco-friendly lifestyle options. Many of them have enacted Climate Action Plans that outline their energy efficiency goals and reforms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by set timeframes.
Here are 10 green ways to improve our cities:
Source: Best Sociology Programs
According to a Princeton University study, money does buy happiness. Surprisingly, the magic number is only $75k. The study reveals that any increment below that benchmark leads to a feeling of misery. In contrast, as it rises above the benchmark, the rate of happiness stays constant.
Harvard psychologist and happiness expert, Dan Gilbert, offers Eight Ways to Spend your Money and Get Happy Doing it.
Here is a summary:
1. Use your money to purchase experiences. Instead of purchasing goods, spend on thrills, concerts, sporting events and travel as greater happiness is derived from experience purchases than material purchases.
2. The pleasure of giving money to others derives happiness. Spending on one’s self is less satisfying than the emotional rewards derived from charities, donations, and helping others.
3. As pleasure is fleeting, spend on small temporary pleasures rather than larger outlays in larger time gaps.
4. Pass on the extended warranties and other insurances that are overpriced. These guarantees provide no happiness by hedging against future regret. By depriving one from the emotional benefit of commitment.
5. Refocus mentally from the use now and pay later and commit to the purchase now. Consume it going forward as future events trigger stronger emotions.
6. Contemplate the consequences prior to committing. Psychological distress is better predicted by negative consequences than major life events.
7. Comparison shop for the ‘best deal’ rather than the greatest from a monetary perspective.
8. Explore other consumers opinions prior to committing to a purchase.
While these guidelines offer consumers mental cues to help curb their consumerism, they also offer insight into the emotional triggers that surround money. Aristotle found that happiness is not merely an emotional state, but it is derived by achieving virtues. He believed that when one found the balancing point between a deficiency and excess they could achieve greater long-term pleasure than just fleeting amusements.
The average American travels 50 miles during Labor Day Weekend and 28.2 million will travel by car. According to AAA current gas prices, averaging $3.80 per gallon, are the highest ever recorded for this holiday weekend. The Corporate Level Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas emissions final rules have been established for model years 2012 and beyond. This enacts a big step toward reducing our country’s oil dependency and carbon emissions while saving consumers money at the pump.
The CAFE program will gradually increase energy efficiency to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016, from the current average of 29 m.p.g., to ultimately reach 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year. These new rules will also increase the pressure on auto manufacturers toward electrified vehicle production. The benefit of the new emissions rules will result in a decrease in GHG by half, eliminating over six billion tons over the course of the program by 2025.
Source: Pew Research
When we think about the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), we immediately recall recycling and the efforts cities make to enforce this practice. Although, there are many practical and effective solutions, the 3R’s don’t receive equal attention. Typically recycling is made easy by providing receptacles to separate paper, aluminum, glass, plastic and even tires.
Recently, we have become more mindful of reducing our consumption of water, electricity, paper products, or even adopt biking and opt for public transportation. But one R - Reuse tends to be overlooked. Consumers participate by using grocery totes, reusable water bottles and by donating items to charities. But these facilities have limited space, and many items are not accepted such as furniture, exercise equipment, textbooks, encyclopedias and electrical fixtures. Much of this never ends up back in circulation even though it could be used by others.
Tradepal’s mission is to make reuse as easy as recycling. The online service encourages reuse by simplifying the process so users can list items with images in less than a minute and seamlessly broadcast their virtual sale to their networks. No need for classifieds or to compete with power users to generate visibility. All users’ items are displayed on their profile complete with image, price, condition and description.
Tradepal offers an online network that engages buy, sell, barter and giveaway with trusted users while helping the environment. Through tradepal’s peer-to-peer marketplace, consumers have a timesaving tool to reduce their estimated $7,000 in unused household items sitting around and put them back into circulation in just 1-click.
Planning a yard sale, but dreading the summer heatwave? Moving and in need to sell or giveaway some items rather than storing them indefinitely? Just visit tradepal and list all your items and share, and the offers will come to your inbox.
This past week I held a moving sale on tradepal and generated hundreds of views and valid offers. As a result, my personal carbon savings increased to 951 kg of CO2, the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 24 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
Here is a summary of the items that were recommerced to four users:
The total amount of carbon savings from these users was a combined savings of 2,880 kg, or 2.9 tons of CO2 by choosing my recommerced items listed on tradepal rather than new.
The following highlights some significant equivalents of the carbon savings resulting from this recommerce:
To find out the equivalency results of a user’s carbon savings on tradepal, simply enter the amount into the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
Author Tamar Burton