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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Coal Gets Burned

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Author: the Inkslinger

In Tuesday’s post about Staples terminating a relationship with an environmentally suspect paper supplier, Jeffrey noted that “the potential cost (to business) of failing to be responsible or transparent… can be high indeed.”

Apparently some of the biggest financial firms agree. A couple of days ago, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley announced that they’ve developed a new set of standards by which investors can assess the regulatory and financial risks of coal-related projects. The firms hope that these so-called Carbon Principles will become a framework that the entire investment community can use to encourage “responsible” coal development, which is probably one of the larger oxymorons you’ll encounter today. As GreenBiz notes, the new standards don’t forbid investment in coal-burning schemes, but they do place them under additional scrutiny. They’re also voluntary, which means any bank is quite free to ignore them as Bank of America, perhaps the largest financer of coal plants, seems so to be doing judging by its conspicuous absence from the proceedings so far.

So while this is not exactly another nail in coal’s coffin, it’s certainly another hammer blow or two on those nails already there. It sends the clearest message yet to the investment community that there’s a growing risk in projects that generate carbon dioxide and that, as Jeffrey says, the potential costs of failing to be responsible can be high. Clearly the landscape is changing and clearly climate crisis concerns are (finally) penetrating the halls of financial power.

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Sometimes a Picture Says It All…

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Author: Inspired Protagonist

More here if you want it…

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Of Cabbages and Kings…

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Author: the Inkslinger

Continuing to wade through the accumulated digital clippings here at my perch in the Vermont clouds, where a foot and a half of snow over the last two days has made the task a bit easier by slowing life down considerably. So let’s continue with some more recent dispatches that have caught my eyes and ears of late…

You probably don’t know it (I sure didn’t) but our entire lifetimes and those of all other human beings throughout human history have been spent in the geological era called the Holocene, that period of time that followed the retreat of the ice age glaciers 12,000 years ago. Now, however, some geologists are suggesting that the Holocene Era is over and the Anthropocene Era has begun, a new geological age in which human activities not natural processes are the force responsible for shaping the surface of our world. It’s a semantic change, really, but it’s a very, very interesting notion, a bit of perhaps necessary symbolism if you will, that I think deserves some consideration if only for the attention it would bring to the tremendous impact people are having on the state of the Earth. We’ve now surpassed all of nature itself as the dominant force in the world. It’s the first time in billions of years of geological history that a single species has achieved such utter and overwhelming dominance. Truly we are as gods and surely that’s worth some discussion. Declaring the dawn of the Anthropocene Era would certainly be one way to start it.

Okay. This is just funny. And perfect. And brilliant. And you should watch it right now.

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Bye-Bye Biofuels?

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Author: the Inkslinger

Biofuels took a big hit yesterday with the release of two studies that clearly show they release more CO2 than conventional fuels once their entire life-cycle is taken into account.

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‘Round and ‘Round We Spin

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Author: the Inkslinger

If news falls in the forest and no one is there to report it on the Inspired Protagonist, does it make a sound? Oh my, yes, my green philosopher children. It’s been roaring for weeks while I’ve been elsewhere. In fact, so much worth mentioning has been piling up in my digital in-box that I briefly considered tossing the whole thing into my virtual trashcan and starting over. Seemed easy than trying to wade through it all. But that’s a bit of a cheat and the losers would be you, dear reader. So I’m biting the informational bullet, sifting through it, and aiming to play catch-up over the next few days. Here goes…

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Sharp Focus

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Author: the Inkslinger

Eban Goodstein at Focus the Nation checked in with us yesterday to report on the progress they’ve made in reversing the climate crisis, and it’s pretty impressive. Eban says they got a million students at 1,800 schools involved in the effort and that they discussed the issue with 75 congresspeople and governors. They also got a ton of great media exposure for the cause and Eban feels like they’re really getting somewhere.

But where we go next is always more important that where we’ve been. As I noted to a close associate this very morning, it’s onward and upward. So Focus the Nation are urging us all to dialogue with our government representatives and share the solutions that exist. They’re also asking us to share the film the 2% Solution ,which talks about how we can achieve an 80% cut in annual CO2 emissions by 2050.

There’s a lot more going on and the easiest way to connect to it is to just head over to their website and join the fray.

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E-Waste Phones Home

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Author: the Inkslinger

My wife and I got our first cell phone about eight years ago. Her commute in those days was a long one over lonely back roads and with another big bad Vermont winter coming and a toddler now often in the back seat, it seemed like a wise choice. So we got the cheapo plan, a bare bones phone and 500 free minutes of which we used maybe ten a month for quick can-you-pick-up-some-milk-on-the-way-home calls.

Four years later, a hinge on the phone snapped, and I went to Verizon to get it fixed. The phone guy kinda laughed and said they don’t really fix them. Every two years, it seems, we could get a free new phone and the old one would get thrown out. Who knew? But that’s how it works. Except that it really doesn’t work for a whole lot of reasons that are outlined in this great new video from INFORM.

It is completely crazy that we live so disposably. That it’s cheaper to replace things than to fix them. That we simply throw away so much without thinking about it. Profligacy has replaced frugality, and that may not even be the deepest sadness. What, after all, are all these phones are made from and what happens when that stuff gets tossed into our soil, air and water. Watch the video then let’s figure out a better way to go.

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What is the Story of Stuff?

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We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again: The Story of Stuff is a film you’ve got to see.

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Where to Gas Up?

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It’s hard to feel that there’s a good choice to make when it comes time to filling up your tank. And even those of us with hybrids sooner or later need to make the stop. (I just bought Toyota’s Camry Hybrid, and while I’m still angry at Toyota for fighting against higher mileage standards in California, given where we live and the other options available, it seemed like the best choice – though it did take me almost three months of research to decide.)

In the current issue of Fast Company, there is the most complete research most complete research I’ve seen to help you decide which oil company is the cleanest and greenest.

“Fast Company turned to the sustainability experts at HIP Investor, Inc. and the Social Venture Technology Group, both based in San Francisco, for help. These firms have together developed an exclusive methodology they call HIP™?Human Impact + Profit?for measuring the environmental and social impacts of business. They rate companies based on their management practices (including setting sustainability goals, and if and how managers are held accountable for those goals), as well as their human impact (such as human rights, greenhouse-gas emissions, and investment in renewable-energy sources).”

Despite all their recent problems, BP comes out in first place followed by Chevron, then Shell, Marathon and Conoco.

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