What You Can do Now to Mitigate Climate Change

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You probably feel overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite ways that climate change alters the planet and your life. Thankfully, you don’t need to sit ideally by and watch the world get too hot. You can start making a difference today by just monitoring what you do and where you get stuff from. Over at Digg they have compiled simple things that you can start doing today to begin mitigating your impact on the planet.

Think About How You Travel

According to the EPA, in 2014 transportation accounted for just over a quarter of all US greenhouse gas emissions. Granted, not all of that can be chalked up to you jumping in your car and driving to work. In addition to personal automobiles there are also planes and trucks contributing to the problem. A 2016 MIT study found that if every car owner went out en masse and bought an electric vehicle the amount of transportation greenhouse gas emissions would drop by around 30 percent.

Of course, not everyone can just go out and buy an electric vehicle. But there’s still plenty you can do. You can drive more efficiently, make sure your tires are properly inflated, carpool, take public transportation, start riding a bicycle to places.

According to the EPA, just trying to find some way to drive two less days per week will reduce your annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2 tons annually. That’s a 12 percent reduction in your own personal greenhouse gas emissions right there.

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Use Technology to Mobilize Your Community

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The current federal leadership in the USA has many people concerned about their rights and freedoms. If you’re one of those people you can use these technological tools to help you stand up and fight back. Newsweek, rather surprisingly, compiled a list of tech tools that can be used to mobilize communities or be used to fund campaigns you support. As always, be sure to protect your online privacy and maybe even your in-person privacy. With the recent revelation of the Vault 7 leaks to Wikileaks it’s more important than ever before to speak up and stay safe.

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants aims to take down what it calls “racist” websites by attacking their ad dollars. Since many companies rely on programmatic advertising, they might not be aware of what sites their ads appear on. Thus, Sleeping Giants notifies companies, requesting that they take action and block the offending websites, or risk alienating their customers. So far, they claim over a thousand brands have committed to removing their ads from such sites.

5 Calls
This app aims to get even the most phone-shy people to call their elected representatives daily. 5 Calls automates the process, providing numbers to officials based on the user’s location and offers easy scripts to follow. It’s available on Apple and Android devices. If only there was an app like this for calling one’s parents.

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Why Mining Matters and Why You Should Care

Despite our technological advances modern civilization relies on mineral resources just as much (if not more) than we did in the past. Our computers need rare earth material to work and other products need metals like aluminum. Recycling isn’t perfect and isn’t plentiful around the world. All of these factors contribute to our need for the mining industry. Unless we change our purchases we will continue to fund mining corporations.

The issue is that mining corporations aren’t good. Indeed, this article outlines why mining companies are problematic all the way from support from the Canadian military on how to run “domestic operations” to the outright theft and destruction of land. What can we do about this?

Obviously, the first thing you can do to help alleviate mining pressure on the world is to consume less. The second thing you can do is buy used goods, then lastly recycle. The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” is in that order for a reason.

For a more direct approach you can join the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network which is an organization focussed on making the world a better place. This week in Toronto there is a major mining convention and the MISN is there trying to (ironically) disrupt it and educate people. The first step to positive change is knowing that it’s needed and that’s what MISN is trying to do.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), organizes the world’s largest mining convention every year in Toronto in March and carries out lobbying efforts in favour of the Canadian mining industry throughout the rest of the year. They describe themself as “the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community” and claim to encourage “best practices in technical, operational, environmental, safety and social performance”. Meanwhile, Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world (according to a global study commissioned by PDAC itself but never made public).

The PDAC convention is dedicated to telling compelling stories about the mining industry’s successes and innovations, especially in the realm of “corporate social responsibility” and sustainability. But we know better! Let’s not let them get away with using this convention as yet another shiny PR opportunity to cover up industry harms and repress dissent.

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How a Better World Can Come from Supply Chain Management

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The Canadian organization Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) just released a report on how supply chain management can help promote and enforce human rights. Some countries legally require companies to report the status of human rights and any liabilities that may stem from neglect or worse. Canada, however, does not. SHARE has looked at other parts of the world to inform how the Canadian government and companies can better the world while reducing risk for investors.

The report, “The Rise of Supply Chain Transparency Legislation” (PDF link), reviews a range of supply chain transparency legislation from the U.S. and across Europe, including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act, to understand its form and impact and to learn from best practices already adopted in other jurisdictions.

SHARE’s report examines best practices in supply chain reporting from other jurisdictions and makes recommendations for Canada, including that a reporting regime should be consistent, but flexible; that it should be publicly accessible; updated annually and certified by top management; and that there should be mechanisms to ensure compliance.

“A regulatory framework for supply chain transparency reporting ensures consistency and comparability between the information provided by each company in a sector,” says Delaney Greig, an analyst with SHARE and co-author of the report, in a statement. “Reporting requirements should help companies to approach supply chain due diligence in a way that ensures efforts are effective and transparent while allowing companies flexibility to do what is best for their situation.”

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Use a Bot to Make Ethical Investments

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A new company, OpenInvest, wants you to use its bots to make your monetary life more ethical. A very popular way to invest in the market is to use index funds, which are a smorgasbord of stocks which will hopefully rise with the stock market as a whole. Most people don’t control what’s in their index fund because it’s managed by a large firm. However, OpenInvest (and others) want you to design your own index fund based on your morals. The fund is created by answering questions and proclaiming what you don’t want to invest in (like arms or mining). The service is only available in the USA at the moment so let’s hope that competitors pop up proving ethical investing like this.

But instead of buying stocks through index funds, as the other robos do, OpenInvest uses individual stocks. Users click through a series of menus to create an “issue profile,” checking boxes to select investment themes—such as gender equality or reduced carbon emissions—as well as groups of companies to exclude. The preset screens lean left. Users can nix weapons manufacturers, tobacco companies, and even those whose executives have backed Donald Trump.

Based on those preferences, OpenInvest creates a basket of more than 60 stocks that both jibes with its customers’ wishes and should, the company says, track the broader market. It balances factors such as size, sector, and each stock’s sensitivity to the market’s ups and downs. OpenInvest says it’s still passive because beating the market isn’t a goal.

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