Even More Evidence That Bike-Friendly Cities Are Better Cities

Bicycles are wonderful contraptions that help people be healthier, have better commutes, and are a wonderful solution to car-based traffic jams. Yet, there are still cities out there that hate cyclists (like Toronto and it’s crack-smoking mayor). In a more civilized place, Aukland, they are embracing bike-friendly infrastructure to make the city better for people and for businesses!

The researchers looked at Auckland, New Zealand, which is currently not a particularly bike-friendly place, and used computer simulations to model different scenarios for new bike-related investments, including regular bike lanes, lanes shared with buses, and fully separated lanes.

They found huge differences: If the city built a network of separated lanes and slowed down traffic speeds, it could increase cycling by 40% by 2040, but adding a few lanes in a few places might only increase bike traffic by 5%. The more people ride, the more the cost savings would add up for Auckland–the biggest factor being a reduction in health care costs. A smaller investment would have little impact at all; the city is so bike-unfriendly that major changes are needed.

Read more.

Read More

China’s Changing Waste Management

China’s rate of economic development has caused massive change in the country and that includes the impact on waste management. Waste from consumer goods, industry, and other “good” things for the economy causes huge problems around the world. China is now at a turning point that can see interesting solutions to problems the developed world has had an easier time dealing with.

The sheer amount of pollution in China is causing people in the city to protest government policies. Environmental consciousness is growing in China.

Chinese waste management stands at a watershed moment. Rising environmental consciousness among the educated, urban middle class—who insist on clean air, clean water, and a clean landscape—may compel the Chinese government to act.

One foreign observer I spoke to noted that contemporary Chinese protests are “always environmental.” Recent events seem to support his point. Grist has reported on artist-activists who make pollution the central feature of their work. And in May, protests exploded after locals caught wind of imminent groundbreaking on a new garbage incinerator in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai. It is the latest example of what has become widespread opposition to burning waste.

Read more.

Read More

Solar Has Won

sdfsdure-2.png

In Australia the amount of energy being produced by sustainable systems caused the price to fall so low it went in to the negative. This will not be the last time we see this. As more places adopt renewable energy into their power grids the old models of industry will be forced to change – meaning a better world for consumers, producers, and the environment!

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

Read more.

Read More

Bank: Toronto’s Trees Worth $7 Billion

One of Canada’s largest banks has announced that their economic research has concluded that in Toronto alone the tree canopy is worth $7 Billion (CAD). The non-monetary value of trees is obvious to most people and usually that’s enough to justify keeping trees around. However, there are people who only think in monetary terms and to those people we can now use the results of economic research to prove the greatness of trees.

If Toronto’s trees are worth $7 Billion, just imagine what the total value of trees are around the world!

It’s also well known that trees help manage temperature, both by blocking cold winds in winter, but also keeping the city cool in summer. Alexander said the net cooling effect on the city of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners, running 20 hours a day.

“On their own, these effects might seem small, but over the long term, these benefits make a significant contribution to environmental well-being,” Alexander said.

Beyond mitigating the need to belch out any more air pollution to cool the city, trees also provide an important role in storing pollutants already out there. The total amount of carbon currently stored in Toronto’s urban forest is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes — roughly the amount emitted by 700,000 cars a year.

Read more here.

Read More

The Purpose Economy

Triple-bottom line companies and other terms that describe companies that focus on more than just profit keep coming. The most recent is what is no referred to as the purpose economy in a new book. The idea is that as we run out of resources on the planet we need to refocus how we measure and talk about economic success.

A generation of Purpose Economy pioneers, like Whole Foods Market’s John Mackey and Virgin’s Richard Branson, are challenging others to follow their lead and to create new frameworks both to do well and to do good, which raises the bar for the business community and turns successful theories into movements. Richard Branson launched the B Team, a coalition aiming to go beyond traditional corporate social responsibility, and instead embrace what they call Plan B: “a plan that puts people and the planet alongside profit.” John Mackey and his team are promoting a new model for business he calls Conscious Capitalism, which inspired his book of the same name.

Other large corporations have shown signs of new, purpose-focused frameworks as well. Some of the most traditional companies like Deloitte and Pepsi have started to put their toes in the water, as their leaders recognize that while they can’t change overnight, they can develop long-term visions to make purpose a priority. In light of this, they have taken proactive and prudent steps in that direction. Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi has framed their north star as “performance with purpose” and begun to make “healthy eats” and the environment core to their success. Deloitte, a consultancy with 200,000 employees around the globe, has made it a priority to embrace a culture of purpose, realizing that successful companies must be “keenly aware of the purpose they fulfill for clients, employees, community, and other groups,” and they have integrated those goals into their business’s core activities.

Read more.

Read More