Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Royal DSM might be the largest company you’ve never heard of. That’s how Hugh Welsh, the company’s president for North America, introduces people to the Dutch maker of nutrients, advanced materials and chemicals used in everything from agriculture, to furniture, to energy.
DSM employs about 23,000 people globally, including 2,000 nutrition scientists. It brought in more than $9 billion in 2012 sales. DSM has recently refocused its global business on what Welsh calls “endemic problems,” which include health and wellness, energy and climate change. We spoke by phone last month.
Bloomberg BNA -- Severe drought and climate change have prompted many of Australia's major cities to construct large-scale desalination plants to provide a rainfall-independent source of drinking water.
“The driver for desalination in Australia has been very simple,” Australian Water Association Chief Executive Tom Mollenkopf told BNA March 1. “We have just emerged from 10 to 15 years of incredibly low rainfall—what became known as the ‘millennium drought.’”
For aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, it's not about the plane.
"Our goal," said Piccard, the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon, "is not to make a revolution in air transportation, but a revolution in the mindset toward technology."
InsideClimateNews.org -- New national science standards that make the teaching of global warming part of the public school curriculum are slated to be released this month, potentially curtailing climate skepticism in the nation's classrooms.
The Next Generation Science Standards were developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nonprofit Achieve and more than two dozen states. They recommend that educators teach the evidence for man-made climate change starting as early as elementary school and incorporate it into all science classes, ranging from earth science to chemistry. By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say.
Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke delivered upbeat news to the company’s semi-annual Sustainability Milestones Meeting in November 2009. The world’s largest retailer was on track to hit 36 of the 37 energy and environment goals Duke’s predecessor set for the company in 2005. Not everyone in the audience responded with glee.
“When Mike Duke made that statement, my ears turned bright red. I felt my face flushing,” said Charles Zimmerman, Wal-Mart’s vice president of international design and construction. He was in charge of the one initiative among 37 that was failing to deliver. “I felt eyes in the auditorium turning to me.”
It seems the word has an unshakable bond with the question mark -- most recently confirmed by a little-known Google tool called Google Correlate, which lets you type in a word and spits out other words and phrases that people have Googled with the same pattern over time.
Bloomberg BNA -- President Obama will announce in the upcoming weeks and months decisive actions the administration is planning to combat climate change, a senior White House adviser said Feb. 27.
Climate change is “one of the clearest and most urgent challenges of our time,” and Obama will soon discuss steps the administration will take to address it, said Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change.
A series of automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin taking effect March 1 would result in an estimated $154 million reduction in federal funding for state environmental programs, according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The council, in a Feb. 25 email, said the spending cuts would “severely undermine” efforts to ensure that air and water are clean.
Bloomberg BNA -- Congress should expand a tax incentive reserved for the fossil fuel industry known as master limited partnerships to the renewable energy industry, a coalition of chief executive officers said in a report released Feb. 25.
That recommendation was among dozens a energy policy proposals in a report released by the Business Roundtable that also included approval of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration and ensuring that future regulations on hydraulic fracturing are “consistent” with industry best practices and state regulations.