Archive for the 'Ecological Footprint' Category

(Chronologically Listed)

ecological footprint goes prime time: calculator on CNN

footprint calculator on CNN

My parting shot at the Leadership Kauai confab on sustainability was to suggest that the most "radical" question you can ask these days is: "What's my footprint?"

Why? Because you'll be shocked to discover how many planets it would take if everyone lived like you, but also because you'll learn some things about the relative significance of energy, food, travel, and home consumption.

CNN gave this question a whirl over the weekend and joked about the 4.8 planets that newscaster Josh Levs calculated for himself (via nextnowcollab).

'Tis kewl that good buddies at Footprint Network got major play for their insightful work.

Published by Ken on April 28th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

Superferry footprint findings: on inconvenient truthiness

cherry picking

Environment-Hawaii's Pat Tummins was kind enough to include SusHI in her commentary on the Superferry, and went on to feature Jeff Mikulina and Brad Parsons regarding this boat’s "extravagant carbon footprint".

Tummins didn't mention my preliminary finding that the ferry beats inter-island flying emissions by 5-to-1, perhaps because she didn't see it...since Parsons edited it out of his anti-ferry blog.

Parsons claims (via email) he left out my calculation of 'emissions per ton-mile' because "it would just confuse most readers."

Either way, it's far from clear that HSF is worse than airlines, as some folks want you to believe.

Published by Ken on February 5th, 2009 tagged Ecological Footprint, Transport | 4 Comments »

HI superferry EIS: old tools shed little light on sustainability

friday footprint.

HSF at maui.

As expected, the Superferry EIS provides recommended mitigation measures for everything except the passionate opposition to the Superferry by some Kaua'i residents (via HNLadvertiser).

Sadly, the crucial emissions data provided is of little use, due to methodological vagaries across multiple operating scenarios.

We still don't know the 'ecological footprint' of this boat, nor even the emissions per ton mile, nor are we yet able to compare this form of transport with inter-island jet travel.

Let's hope the State didn't pay big bucks for this "Air Quality" assessment, which seems to copy numbers from a handbook used by LA harbors.

Published by Ken on January 9th, 2009 tagged Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | 1 Comment »

that sinking feeling: on Hawaii GHGs and sucking up carbon

carbon sinks

For the first time, we have credible estimates of the 'carbon sinks' represented by Hawaii's forests and ag lands, and the results are fairly depressing.

After all, one might have thought that our island mountains were worth gazillions in carbon credits.

Fact is, our landcover offsets only 12% of our total emissions.

Either we transform these non-urban lands into much better 'sinks', or we'll need to grow lots of trees somewhere else to fully offset our contribution to global warming.

Of course, the more prudent option is to drastically reduce our emissions so we have less need for 'sinks'. Duh!

Published by Ken on November 25th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | 1 Comment »

offsetting behavior: on greenwashing your conscience

carbon offsets as indulgences

We've satirized carbon offsets as indulgences, yet some folks insist on missing the point.

Take Fox, for example, which commissioned the animated series called “King of the Hill” to lampoon the whole concept of carbon offsets.

And, never mind that this show is foxtypically blustery and ill-informed, as David Roberts notes (via grist).

The point is that making offsets “honest” requires real behavior change on the part of buyers, says Yale's Richard Conniff (via greeninc).

“If we accept that global warming is a serious threat, then the use of offsets makes sense only within the context of a carbon cap”, says Conniff.

Published by Ken on November 2nd, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

here comes waterprinting: on footprinting state of practice

greenwash guide

Maisie Greenawalt went to a conference on Carbon Footprinting & the Supply Chain. Whoopdeedoo!

Wot's the big deal? She took notes!

As VP of Bon Appétit (same folks who footprinted their cafeteria food), Greenawalt doesn't necessarily like conferences, yet this one was special. It came with 2 days in NYC, and attracted an intriguing mix of industry reps...from ConAgra to the World Bank, Nike to the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture.

Says Greenawalt, "overall, cows took a beating, packaging was shown to be somewhat of a red herring and I was impressed by the level of knowledge held by major manufacturers."

Published by Ken on September 20th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

livin’ large was kewl: small is more kewl

flatpack shelter

Sure, I'm biased, 'cause I already switched to small. The Kapa`a treehouse where my wife and I live and work has 500 sf...if you include the deck...which we do...daily.

More than enough room, we find, as long as you're not into stuff piling up. And certainly it's vastly more green (saved 1 T CO2e).

In case ya haven't noticed, small has a new caché among home designers, as evidenced by weekly updates about mini-homes on blogs like Inhabitat and Jetson Green.

Yet, I gotta say this fold-up house featured on Treehugger takes the cake! Wudja believe high-density, multi-storey, stackable, packable? Check 'em out.

Published by Ken on September 17th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Green Building | Comment now »

new food footprint tool gives ‘low carb’ diet new meaning

low carbon diet calculator

Astrid Scholz gets some play with a new calculator that focuses on the carbon footprint of our food (via newscientist).

Scholz is an ecological economist at Ecotrust who developed this tool so Bon Appétit Management Company could create a "Low Carbon Diet" for its 400 plus cafeterias in the US.

The calculations can become "fiendishly complicated", says Scholz.

The footprint of industrially raised chicken breast, for example, includes the emissions from preparing the feed pellets, transporting the animal to the wholesaler, running the slaughterhouse, refrigerating, storing and shipping, plus your driving to the store and back, storing and cooking it.

Published by Ken on September 14th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Food | Comment now »

inflation prompts conservation as footprint gains popularity

footprints shrinking with conservation

A whopping 7 in 10 Americans are trying to lighten their carbon load, according to another set of results from a poll by ABC News, Planet Green, and Stanford University (via sightline).

As Eric Hess notes, that's the same share of Americans who are watching Michael Phelps make Olympic history. Yeah!

That's right: 71% of Americans say they’re trying to shrink their carbon footprint through driving less, conserving electricity, and recycling. And, there's more good news.

More Americans want stuff to be both greener and cheaper than either greener or cheaper. Kewl! This could end up influencing the Fall elections. Ya think?!

Published by Ken on August 15th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

where’s the fat in your footprint? two views

two footprints

Looking to trim your ecological footprint? Here are two ways to slice and dice the source of your emissions.

The Oregon Dept. of Enviro Quality looked at footprints from both a sector and an activity perspective, with insightful results (via sightline).

The conventional view (bottom chart) shows most emissions coming from keeping the lights on and the car running.

The alternative view (top chart) shows our 'stuff' looming largest, with building energy use a close second.

Which is correct? Both. See, there’s lots of electricity and transport embedded in your stuff. And most of your time is spent in buildings.

Published by Ken on August 12th, 2008 tagged CO2 Emissions, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

are we responsible for China’s export-related emissions?

tvs from china

Speaking of imported carbon, which is one of the factors McKinsey didn't consider in Hawaii, it bears noting that our islands were be rated far less green if we accounted for all the carbon dioxide emitted during production of all the goods we import.

The inverse is true for China. Just because the developed world moved its factories there doesn't mean the Chinese are now solely responsible for those emissions (via bbc).

Britain just got nailed in a new global accounting in a study which found that the UK carbon budget would be 50% bigger if these factors were considered (via treehugger).

Published by Ken on August 6th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comment now »

Hawaii’s GHG task force less a force due to neglected tasks

hawaii GHG emissions reduction

We know Hawaii's new Task Force for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is busily at work, if only because DBEDT says they are.

Still, it's thoroughly frustrating trying to track their progress, given dead links and serious time-lags in posting to the DBEDT site.

Imagine my surprise, for example, on learning that McKinsey (of abatement fame) had completed a study on "Reducing Hawaii's Oil Dependence and Greenhouse Gas Emissions"...via the forthcoming August issue of Environment Hawaii.

That's right, the Task Force saw this document at their June meeting and got into followup questions at their July meeting. So, why can't we see it?

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comment now »

dude, get yer carbon goggles! on footprinting in second life

carbon goggles inside second life

Wanna "learn about real-world emissions, get a feel for the relative carbon cost of a kettle or car, without reading a spreadsheet?"

Try Carbon Goggles, a new project from Jim Purbrick, inside Second Life (via beyondthebeyond).

Now we're talking! You can tap or tag real world carbon footprint data to the virtual counterparts of objects like a Prius or a Learjet.

"The nice thing about doing it in Second Life," says Purbrick, "is that there are already lots of models of real-world objects that can be overlaid" (via poptech).

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

new widget for your what’sit: footprinting gets easier

How's this for a kewl tool that can help you learn about your 'ecological footprint': a widget that shows emissions for a variety of products and services (via GilFriend).

That's right, a firm called EcoSynergy makes this widget available in four flavors. I'm showing the one for food, and there's also a widget for household stuff, buildings and offices. Check 'em out!

Published by Ken on July 31st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

steffen fetches foresight for one-planet prosperity

alex steffen at etech conference

Just in case ya missed it, here's a link to one of my heros with some words of wisdom and some perspective on our pickle that everyone should see and hear.

Alex Steffen, who runs the worldchanging operation, is among the best at tying it all together.

Not surprisingly, this video is from the recent 'Emerging Tech' conference.

Yeah! Now you can watch this great mind in action...and never leave your seat. (Unless ya wanna stand up and cheer!)

Steffen asks and answers the question top-most in our minds: What might a sustainable future look like?

Published by Ken on July 22nd, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Sustainability Science | Comment now »

blue green convergence: on footprints and politics

red and blue states and green scores

The same states ranked by Forbes among the 'greenest' also happen to be 'blue' states, notes John Laumer (via treehugger).

Note the average scores of 'red' and 'blue' states, and check what sets the 'red' states apart. According to Forbes, ‘red’ suffers from "a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it."

Says Forbes: "Expect them to remain that way." Says Laumer: "some states just have a green wish."

So, how did Hawaii rank 4th ‘greenest’ if it’s carbon footprint is only “slightly better than middle of the pack”, you ask?

Published by Ken on July 21st, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comment now »

patagonia does ecological footprints: is fashion sustainable?

patagonia ecological footprints

Don't throw these clothes away...or any clothes, for that matter. Why? Check out the ecological footprint of your fashion choices.

Patagonia has made that task far easier and significantly advanced the art of footprinting with this new tool.

Bottom line: Americans would prolly lose weight if we had to carry around the pounds of CO2 that went into making our clothes.

Of the 10 Patagonia products you can assess with this tool, the CO2 emissions from their production and transport range from 10 to 100 times the weight of the item. You can also view the products' transport routes and waste profile.

Published by Ken on July 5th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

ecological footprint depends on location and income

coolclimate footprint calculator

New results of an ecological footprint calculation for Canadians shows the obvious link between spending and emissions. Sure enough, the richest Canadians spew 2/3 more carbon than the average household (via CBC).

Especially in transport, the footprint of top Canadian earners is almost nine times the lowest-income households, given the richer households' heavier reliance more on bigger carsd and more air travel.

Similar results for Hawaii from the CoolClimate calculator show that island households emit 20% less carbon than the US average, given our paucity of industry and lighter reliance on electricity to heat or cool our homes.

Published by Ken on June 24th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, HI-specific | Comment now »

America’s monster footprint: seeking an 80% reduction

american footprint shares

No need for technical jargon here: our American ecological footprint is twice that of the EU and Japan, and six times our global share.

Sustainability in America means cutting our footprint by 80%, and we know where these cuts must come, thanks to the Cool Climate Calculator (via bie).

Energy tops the list with 30% of our footprint, since average household energy emits 11.7 tons of CO2, and this must go down to 2.3 tons.

Transport and food are second and third, with 25% and 20% footprint share, respectively, or 9.8 tons and 7.8 tons, going down to 2.0 and 1.6 tons. So, 75% of our footprint comes from these 3 sectors.

Published by Ken on June 5th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Ecological Footprint | Comment now »

how green are biofuels? only footprinters know for sure

biofuel footprints by jorgen vos

By now, we know enough about this new kind of sustainability thinking to look beyond the emissions reduction claims of biofuels in considering their full environmental impacts.

Two recent studies show how dramatically the assessment of biofuels can change when all impacts are considered.

A Swiss research team found that U.S. corn ethanol, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and soy diesel, and Malaysian palm-oil diesel have far greater aggregate environmental costs than do fossil fuels (via presidiomba).

Good buddy Jørgen Vos (now at Natural Logic) also found that corn ethanol is much worse than gasoline, and even Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is slightly worse.

Published by Ken on June 4th, 2008 tagged Ecological Footprint, Energy | Comment now »