People

  1. Animals
  2. Energy and Environment
  3. Planet
  4. Thinking

Question: How can sustainability succeed without laws protecting animals?

The science is out on animals. Man's outdated perceptions of our underwater and in-the-forest cousins are coming to light as science meets PETA.

Animals are sentient beings. It's not a romance novel, it's the world we live in. Animals experience a wide range of emotions.

The animal manifesto: Every squirrel, every rabbit, every bear, every fish serves a clear, identifiable role in Earth's ecosystem except for two creatures: invasive species like pythons in the Everglades.... and mankind.

Humans as protectors: Man certainly plays a role in this crazy floating ball universe, but we've drifted so far from our hunter-gatherer origins that our ecological purpose is becoming harder and harder to define. As such, it is the moral responsibility of man to act as benevolent stewards for the vulnerable, voiceless animal kingdom.

Animal lives matter: The next sustainability chapter of post-industrial society begins with a recognition of animals as they are, fellow Earthlings deserving of basic rights.

Bottom line Today, most advanced nations do not recognize animals as sentient beings. And we expect sustainable lifestyles to be widely adopted in our homes? You have to learn how to drive a car before lifting up the hood to fix it.

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

Big picture With social distancing mandates and divisive partisanship on the Hill, experts speculate as much as a week’s delay on election results. They need to manually count millions of mail-in ballots. And the side-effects of a delayed election are enormous. Who would act as President while we counted the winner?

Possible outcomes

  1. As the law currently states, the Speaker of the House, followed by the President Pro Tempore, would fall in succession to serve in the case of a disputed presidency. President Pelosi?
  2. BUT, Congressional elections occur every two years. That means that every single House seat will expire on Jan 3. That means if the House majority is unclear, the Speaker of the House may be disputed also.
  3. Section 3 of the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, outlined an alternative for undecided presidential elections. Basically, Congress can dub any "Person" deemed suitable for office to serve as president in the interim. That list would stretch out to Former Presidents, Secretaries of State, etc.

What it all means I know it’s become quite a partisan issue, but I truly believe our best bet is to vote at the booth and minimize mail-in ballots. It’s in the best interest of our safety, integrity and ensured continuity as a nation. Enact whatever social distancing policies we need, designate specific time slots for seniors, but make it happen. If Costco can do it, so can we.

Bottom line Given the current political climate, an election dependent on mail votes could be catastrophic.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

The scoop The 2020 election is just around the corner. Where do Biden and Trump stand on sustainability?

Biden's campaign website highlights that he plans to implement the key foundational elements for building a sustainable future –

  1. Comprehensive climate plan w/ emphasis on clean energy and international cooperation.
  2. Racial equity as a centerpiece for environmental justice.

Trump's campaign focuses on a short-term growth mindset of maximizing existing industries and economic growth.

  1. The decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, slashing federal funding for environmental initiatives, and weakening environmental protection acts to prop up corporations.
  2. America-first policy
  3. Lower corporate/individual taxes

Bottom line Biden’s plan for a sustainable future is pretty on point – better/more affordable housing plans, a massive Green Deal, and of course working on racial reform. Trump’s plan is to “go, go, go!”.

Dig deeper → >1 min

  1. Energy and Environment
  2. Planet
  3. Thinking

The scoop It's been 161 years since the US drilled oil for the first time. Let's talk about the history and future of oil, and where it fits into our plans for better planet.

Talking points

  1. We keep running out of oil and then find more.
  2. It seems like the world is moving away from oil, but the US is producing more today than ever before.
  3. Unconventional oil, which is oil that is extracted by non-traditional means, is more problematic given its more likely to use more costly and environmentally disruptive processes.
  4. If you stream videos, drive a car, or live in a colder climate, you probably use more fossil fuels than you think.
  5. To move away from oil, we need to either invest heavily in a climate plan at an institutional level (cons: more government market intervention, higher taxes) or create a marketplace where renewables are the more viable option for businesses and consumers.

Final thoughts More investment in renewables will help ‘fuel’ the transition away from oil. In the meantime, let’s get the Republican party to acknowledge climate change.

Dig deeper 2 min

  1. Doing
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People

The scoop With increased pressure on supply chains from COVID-19, food systems are seeing a shift toward local-purchasing. For environmental purposes, maintaining local food supplies post-pandemic will be crucial.

Support farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture. Ride the wave toward more resilient and sustainable food systems.

Things to know

  • Large-scale and complex food systems buckled under the unpredictability and immeasurable pressures of a global pandemic
    • Millions of pounds of food products lost across the US
    • Grocery stores are dealing with food shortages
  • Consumers are shifting to purchasing locally and local farmers face an increased demand for local food
  • We need resilient and sustainable food systems even after the pandemic
  • How to support local and shop small:
    • Farmers’ Markets
    • Community Supported Agriculture Programs
    • Food Hubs

Bottom line Eating local should not be expensive or exclusive. You can buy local food based on what fits your schedule and budget. Sustainable and local food systems rely on consumer behavior.

There is no doubt a major increase in local purchasing during COVID. However, reaching sustainable development goals and building resiliency in food systems requires your action to support local farmers. Buy local.

Dig deeper → 5 min

  1. Doing
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People

What are you talking about? Plogging. AKA jogging while picking up litter. Yes, you can exercise and help the environment AT THE SAME TIME.

Pro-tips for plogging

  1. Safety: Look before you touch and use good judgment. If you suspect something may be hazardous, leave it be and notify your local township!
  2. Reycling properly: Recycle according to local laws. Most parks and rec facilities have recycling bins. Use them! If you are unsure about your local recycling policy, look up '{city/town} {state} recycling' on your favorite search engine
  3. Local clean-ups: Check your area for local clean-ups at parks, lakes, rivers and highways.
  4. Share on social: Use #plogging and post your eco-warrior efforts on social media so other people can learn about this awesome trend!

Dig deeper >1 min

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

What’s happening On Monday, the Trump administration approved drilling plans for an oil and gas leasing program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Energy vs. Environment This is a big policy win for Republicans in a decades-long fight for energy independence. However, the South Carolina-sized refuge has never been used for oil extraction and for good reason.

The pristine land, made up of a biodiverse plant and wildlife population, deserves protection now more than ever. America is already oil-abundant. We don't need more drilling.

So we are oil rich, why the move? Short answer: $$$$. Oil companies drilling on federal lands get a break on royalties.

Threat to Gwich’in people Gwich’in leaders are vocal about their fight against drilling in the coastal plains of ANWR. The Gwich’in people have lived in the ANWR for over a millenia.

What can you do

  1. You can sign a petition, available at the bottom of this article.
  2. Alaskans can vote in the upcoming Senatorial race; the incumbent candidate supports ANWR drilling.

Dig deeper → 1 min

  1. Cities and Communities
  2. Federal
  3. People
  4. Politics and Policy

Veep nominee Harris Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate this week. She is the first woman of color to sit on a national ticket.

What to know After dropping out before the first primary, Kamala Harris has been working with other prominent Democrats to push several new climate bills with a concentration on matters of justice.

Call it what you want, but most political pundits point to Kamala's identity as a woman of color as the main reason for the Democratic Party's, I mean, Biden's strategic selection.

One big thing One of the more interesting prospects of a Biden-Harris ticket is the reemergence of 2015 Paris Agreement. As it stands today, the US will formally quit the Paris Agreement on 4 November, 2020, the day after the election.

My take on Paris I'm not convinced (and neither are some experts) that an international agreement is the answer to climate action without true compliance. What holds nations accountable for these commitments?

As the US-China economic race continues, the Paris Agreement would become more of a cat-and-mouse due to the associated costs of energy reduction than an actual solution.

A Biden-Harris ticket through the lens of climate:

  1. New legislation committed to environmental justice
  2. A series of executive orders designed to build a clean economy; there will be ambitious targets for 2025.
  3. A proposal to make a $1.7 trillion federal investment into climate resilience over the next 10 years.
  4. New efforts toward climate diplomacy/increased cooperation with other nations, traditional allies.
  5. More stringent environmental regulation, increase environmental standards for infrastructure projects.

Bottom line Neither Biden or Harris are climate experts. Their careers were not built on climate activism. However, they are concerned about these critical issues and will hire a team of dedicated experts.

Americans want purpose not perfection. In a candidate, I think everyday voters are looking for public consideration, personal accountability, and the ability to get shit done.

Dig deeper 5 min

  1. Lifestyle
  2. People
  3. Thinking

What to know Michael Moore’s 'Planet of the Humans' criticizes the green energy movement. It was met with outrage from the environmental community. The movie was re-released after a copyright infringement for free viewing on June 5th.

The film's argument 'Planet of the Humans' argues that

  1. Green energy does not have the capability to save the planet from a climate crisis.
  2. Leading environmental organizations’ motives are muddied by ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The critics Environmentalist Josh Fox and others rebuked the film for its inaccuracies. Most of the footage is from 5-15 years ago, and information about solar and wind technology is also stuck in that time period. Despite this, the footage is misleadingly not marked with dates.

Zoom out It is true that green energy technology can be poorly implemented, but this does not mean that green energy as a whole is useless, as the film suggests. In the words of Fox, “to attack the basic premise that renewable energy works is patently absurd.”

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Better Business
  2. Doing
  3. Lifestyle
  4. People
  1. Capture: This app helps you measure your carbon footprint
  2. RecycleCoach: Become a better recycler using this app!
  3. Buycott: Become a smarter and more conscious consumer using this app
  4. Waze: Use this app to find alternate routes and save money and gas, while reducing the environmental impact of your commute!
  5. PaperKarma: Track and cut paper waste by stopping junk mail using this app.

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