22 September 2006

Clinton's Show in New York Tackles "Big Problems"

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Part of the deal at the Clinton Global Initiative currently taking place in midtown Manhattan is that when someone agrees to commit money to a project, they get to come up on stage with President Clinton, sign a document, and get a picture.

So they all file up on stage, looking a little bit embarrassed and a little bit proud. (Ayn Rand would have a field day.) No one besides Clinton speaks - the exception was a young woman who said, "Thank you, President Clinton" into the microphone. In the audience, here was a definite rustle of surprise at her temerity.

A few of us in the press were trying to decide what the spectacle most resembled. Is it kindergarten show and tell? (And little Jimmy gets a gold star!) Is it "The Price is Right?" (This commitment is worth $80 million! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, $80 million!) Or is it a guy hawking time-shares? (Look who's vacationing in lovely Bemidji, Minnesota! You could be just like them and spend some money, too!)

Like all things Clinton, CGI is plenty of pomp and circumstance. There seemed to be an awful lot of perfectly coiffed blond hair in the audience, which consisted of a lot of important people. (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, President Pervez Musharraf, King Abdullah and Queen Rania, Richard Branson, to name but a few.) The press was treated as a nuisance - there was a large army of people whose job was to tell reporters "You can't go in there!" and "You can't sit here!" - which I suppose we are.

And I shouldn't be hard on my handlers, because my peers were even more ruthless. As I tried to take a seat, a cameraman shoved me so hard I almost tipped over. (OK, I am wearing heels.) "You can't sit here," he shrieked.

But there's also a lot of substance at CGI. Yesterday, Bill Gates, along with Clinton, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and Hernando de Soto, the president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, participated in a panel called "Effective Action, Lasting Results."

Read Bethany McLean's full article: Clinton

20 September 2006

Survey: What Does "Sustainability" Mean to You?

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines "Sustainability" as
"a systemic concept, relating to the continuity of economic, social, institutional and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the non-human environment. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in a very long term. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire planet."

The word is au courant, but what do YOU think of when you think of Sustainability? Inquiring minds want to know, dear reader...

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17 September 2006

Social Entrepreneurs: Telling Stories to Change the World

Terrain: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments has just published my article on Storytelling and Social Entrepreneurs in their latest issue, No. 19: The Music of It All.

In "Telling Stories to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and a Network Proposition," I've tried to capture my latest thinking about how to promote social change through the stories of the people who are effecting such change. In doing so, I've also taken a look at why stories may be the most powerful vehicle for change.

Included are a number of links to resources, stories, and previous posts from "The Green Skeptic."

Stories about change are narratives of conflict and hope, problems and solutions. A conflict of some kind is set up that leads the reader to hope. And telling these stories helps others make change. In the words of award-winning journalist and author David Bornstein, stories help "a person form the belief that it is possible to make the world a better place. Those who act on that belief spread it to others. They are highly contagious. Their stories must be told."

Please check it out and tell your friends.

Read the complete article in Terrain: Telling Stories

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14 September 2006

Climate Change: Hansen says we have 10 years...

Sobering news from Reuters/Planet Ark: "NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit)."

"I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most," Hansen said at the Climate Change Research Conference in California's state capital.

If the world continues with a "business as usual" scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and "we will be producing a different planet."

On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

Read the complete story by Mary Milliken: Hansen

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Climate Change: Nuñez on California's Climate Landmark

California's landmark legislation on Climate Change, which puts a cap on the state's greenhouse gas emissions, creates a clear path for a market-based approaches to bring the state’s emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020. The bill encourages the state to work with businesses to achieve such a reduction. The question is, will it work for business. An interview with California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez seems to answer the question.

Nuñez is the co-author (with Fran Pavley) of bill AB 32. Read The Climate Group's interview with Mr. Nuñez. One choice quote:

We’ve already taken action on clean air and tailpipe emissions – you name it, we’ve done it, and our economy continues to hold strong. It isn’t mutually exclusive to have a strong economy and have a green economy as well.

We like the sound of that.

The Climate Group is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing business and government leadership on climate change. They are based in the UK, the USA and Australia and operates internationally.

Read it here: Nuñez

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07 September 2006

Media: Death of "Crocodile Hunter" Hits Home

Like many ten-year olds, my son looked up to Steve Irwin. He looks up to anyone who is passionate about conserving animals and the natural world. The "Crocodile Hunter" was for my son what Jacques Cousteau was to my generation of conservationists: He brought places and species from around the world into our living rooms in a captivating way.

Regardless of what you think of his wacky, over-the-top style, and as dangerous as most of the situations Irwin put himself in on TV, his was always a message of the importance of conserving the animals and natural diversity.

Truth be told, we don't have cable, so catching Irwin in his element was a guilty pleasure in hotel rooms or at grandma's house, where we'd hear the Crocodile Hunter shout his trademark "Crikey" or talk about beautiful "Sheilas" as he held them up to the camera. Irwin achieved "rock-star" status as a conservationist; to my son, he was a hero.

So the news that Irwin had been killed by a fatal encounter with a stingray was quite a shock to our home.

Last year, my son took part in a saltwater crocodile survey in Mexico's Sian Ka'an. He got to hold and tag a baby croc and re-release it into the wild. It was one of his proudest moments. "It's like the Crocodile Hunter," he exclaimed.

I speak for my son and for many kids (and adults!) out there when I say Steve Irwin will be missed. "Crikey," it's hard to believe he's dead and from such a freak accident involving a rarely dangerous animal. Our prayers go out to Mr. Irwin's family in their time of grief.

Read the story in News.com.au

and CNN

Jules Crittenden's insightful Boston Herald column

and a tribute video/slideshow from YouTube