February 14, 2016

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    French-American Climate Talks in Texas

    As the world mourns the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place last Friday in Paris, plans for the upcoming United Nations COP21 climate talks have shifted into crisis mode. The disaster will not stop the event from going on, but the atrocity underscores the need for an alternative strategy for galvanizing consistent climate action. One approach: more effectively bridging the local and the global. As a precursor to COP21, the French embassy developed the French Ameri-Can Climate Talks (FACTS) to raise awareness on global climate issues in North American cities. The talks brought public authorities at the federal,…

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    Transportation’s Vulnerability to Weather Extremes

    Traffic jams, road closings, airport delays, iced light rail power lines – we tolerate these inconveniences as inherent in a complex transportation system. But what if changing weather makes such disruptions more frequent and costly? How do we think about transportation planning in a context of weather extremes? Our vast network of roads, growing rail system, and airports are critical engines of the regional economy. But a new assessment of weather-related vulnerabilities of this infrastructure points to an increasing risk of damage and disruption. The report was prepared as part of a federal pilot study of the vulnerability of transportation…

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    Turning Organizational Stress into Resilience

    When you’re stressed, you cut corners. It starts with substituting coffee for sleep. Before long, you may find yourself missing workouts, eating donuts and consuming too much alcohol. If left unmitigated, stress can cause weight gain, burnout and breakups — and in extreme cases, heart attacks and death. At a minimum, stress leads to poor choices, and this applies in corporate decision-making also. Automation, rapid growth, reorganization, volatility and changes in ownership are common causes of organizational stress, and sometimes lead to unseemly behavior and unexpected outcomes even in stalwart companies. “Companies can even be stressed by success,” said ERM…

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    EPA Targets: Win or Loss in U.S. Biofuel Policy?

    Since the 2005 creation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—under the Clean Air Act (CAA)—is required to set annual biofuel volume standards for fuels produced or imported into the United States. Biofuels, or fuels produced from crops like corn and soybeans, don’t get much attention as an alternative fuel source in the United States as compared to natural gas or electricity. But when the policy remains controversial, they should. As of May 28, 2015, the EPA proposed higher standards for biofuel blending volumes for years 2014 to 2017. The new regulations also proposed increased…

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    Design Engineering in the Circular Economy

    The circular economy is an industrial model designed and managed around circular flows of renewable, long-lasting, high value, low carbon, low entropy, low waste, non-toxic resources, products and processes. It is the systemic solution for a sustainable advanced economy, operating within and not against natural processes and the Earth’s capacity to support life in all its diversity. It aims to have a positive impact and optimal performance on all three sustainability dimensions: society, environment and economy. Its definition is simple and somewhat self-evident: circular as opposed to linear. While the definition might be easy to understand on a conceptual level,…

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    Biomuseo Panama at the ‘Bridge of Life’

    Sitting on the Amador peninsula, with the high-rise towers of Panama City on one side and the ships of the Panama Canal passing on the other, I am mesmerized by the recently opened Biomuseo in Panama City, a ‘must-see’ for anyone visiting the region. The museum is a one-stop for learning about the nature of the land, as well as the urbanization and cultural history of the nation. Walking along the recently completed Cinta Costera urban park from Panama City’s historic 17th Century colonial area Casco Viejo, you first see the vibrant colors of the Biomuseo’s roof stand out against…

Book Reviews

Conscious Capitalism, 1.5 years later
Posted by Lily Simon on Thursday, May 7, 2015

Conscious Capitalism, 1.5 years laterConscious Capitalism, John Mackey’s and Raj Sisodia’s triple-bottom-line bible, has orbited the social entrepreneurship sector for over a year and a half. That’s about how long it has taken me to read, as I keep putting the book down and picking it back ...
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Putting 'Responsible Business' out of Business
Posted by Claire Sommer on Thursday, May 7, 2015

Putting 'Responsible Business' out of BusinessChristine Bader’s book The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil offers hope and practical advice for anyone trying to stimulate meaningful change in our multi-stakeholder, shareholder-beholden, profits-focused world. Doing this kind of work is hard, but then again, pretty much anything ...
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How 9 Companies Are Creating a Culture of Sustainability
Posted by Claire Sommer on Thursday, May 7, 2015

How 9 Companies Are Creating a Culture of Sustainability Jeana Wirtenberg knows sustainability is about people. Living, caring human beings – who get things done. It’s not “green.” Or “eco.” Not goals or dashboards. Not on their own, at any rate. It’s people who make these things actually happen. Sustainability is people at ...
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The Big Pivot: A Realist's Guide to a Climate-Challenged Present
Posted by Claire Sommer on Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Big Pivot: A Realist's Guide to a Climate-Challenged PresentIf you’ve ever thought of dropping a book on your boss’s desk, in the hopes of sparking a Ray Anderson-type conversion, here’s a tip. Don’t use the new IPCC report: It’s gloomy, terrifying and a muddle. Try this instead: Andrew Winston’s business transformation book for ...
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