Telling a Human Story from an Environmental Perspective
Writing on environmental, social, and economic issues.
Corporate communications and international reporting.
Publishing in TriplePundit, Medium, 3BL Media, Slate.
Founder of TDS Environmental Media and the PlanetWatch Group.
Member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Pacific Media Workers Guild
Sounds of the Ocean by musician, composer, and ecopreneur Joshua Sam Miller help connect his audiences to the meditative presence of nature.
Forged in the summer heat of 1787, the Constitution defining this new way of governance was a long shot. “A republic,” Ben Franklin allegedly said, “if you can keep it.”
COP27 ended with provisional success on a loss and damage fund for developing nations, progress remains insufficient for the task at hand.
There's this old fisherman's tale. Maybe you've heard it. Born into a family of fishermen, the boy learns the way of the sea, its cycles, the patterns of the waves, where the fish are. The boy grows into a man and a life on the ocean.
Part two of "Beyond the Bean" about coffee and how one company is revolutionizing the way we think about coffee in the 21st century.
Our final installment of Beyond the Bean about beanless Atomo coffee asks the tough questions. How will coffee come to us in the 21st century?
Coffee in the Modern World. Part one of the three-part series "Beyond the Bean."
Supporting college students and mental health is an important move to break the silence taboo and increase success for traditional students.
You can't reduce your carbon footprint without measuring it. This summer, Bank of the West will launch the 1% for the Planet checking account - the first checking account that will help you track the carbon footprint of your debit card purchases.
Sea of Shadows tells the story of the illicit trade for the swim bladder of the Totoaba fish. It is an allegorical tale of heroes and villains and how we should live on the planet
The growing climate activism among the world's youth opens a fresh debate on the moral character of a civilization that would foreclose the future in a last gasp effort to preserve, as Donald Trump sees it, the "wealth underneath our feet."
In his New Yorker article " What If We Stopped Pretending the Apocalypse Can be Stopped," Jonathan Franzen argues that it does us little good to hang our hope for the future on some wildly optimistic scenario for which there is little evidence of achieving before climate change becomes a self-sustaining phenomenon pushing past a tipping point into a new normal.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."- Margaret Mead The movement Greta Thunberg started one year ago makes many of the "adults" in the room nervous.
Image: Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz (right) presents Ingersoll Rand CEO Michael W. Lamach with the World Environment Center's Gold Medal Award. Ingersoll Rand is the kind of company you've probably heard of but aren't quite sure what they do.
Celebrate EarthDay by accepting the magnitude of our discordant relationship with ourselves, each other, and the world from which our awareness emanates
Key partnerships between science, research and business have proven solutions. What we need now is for the food industry to step up, at scale, and implement these solutions.
Across the U.S., millions of people face penetrating physical, mental and emotional diminishment caused by systemic hunger. But why are people waging an existential battle with hunger in the richest and among the most agriculturally productive countries in the world?
(if we insist on using Uber) It seems as if I am the oddball, but when asked if I'm getting an Uber, I feel compelled to correct them: "I'm getting a taxi," I say, perhaps too coldly, as if they've said something wrong. This often elicits a shrug and a puzzled look - whatever old man.
Through innovative methodologies, transparency, and sustained commitment, companies like Saipem play an increasingly crucial role in steering the global community toward positive outcomes
The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is an excellent example not only of a resource-efficient building, but also how LEED can foster biophilic design in the built environment.
In this first installment of coffee roaster Chameleon Cold Brew's commitment to quality, compassion, and sustainability, we'll examine what "quality" really means, from smallholder farmers in Peru to coffee connoisseurs the world over.
The challenge, should you decide to accept it: "Make the huge - and for many people abstract - issue of climate change tangible and understandable, while at the same time offering potential and practical solutions." In the iconic 60s American television series Mission: Impossible, the task every week was simple: accomplish the impossible.
The end of the world, an essay on telling time.
In his 2007 bestseller "The World Without Us ," Alan Weisman expands on a thought experiment published in a 2005 issue of magazine: What if we considered the human impact on the planet by removing the humans?
LifeStraw "Follow the Liters" program is one example of the "humanitarian entrepreneurship" business model driving the mission of Global Health company Vestergaard. More than 1 million schoolchildren in Kenya now have access to safe drinking water. And it's not just a "one-off".
I had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast this morning, which sounds unremarkable, even in the middle of February. Thanks to growers in Florida, Mexico, and South America, I can sit at my breakfast table in the middle of a California winter, munching away on strawberries.
I saw that look. You read the title of this article and rolled your eyes. Maybe you didn't mean to, it's just a physical manifestation of cognitive overload. We're all tired of feeling mostly powerless in the face of global forces, both human and environmental.
A new climate for agriculture In the first part of this series on Climate Smart Agriculture, TriplePundit spoke with Dr. Jeff Seale, Agricultural Environmental Strategy Lead & Associate Science Fellow at Monsanto.
With a population estimated to hit 9.7 billion by 2050, the world's farmers have their work cut out for them. Not only must feed a growing population, but also cope with a rapidly changing climate. And for better or worse, agriculture can have a big impact on the climate crisis, too.
It is arguably counter-productive to think our modern business world will ever be entirely "paperless." Focusing instead on production, consumption, and the supply chain connecting all stakeholders can lead to a sustainable "Less Paper" society. Though "Smarter Paper" may be a more accurate moniker.
History is spiked with aspirational moments that influence a turn, a new narrative, a change of course. It's easy to look back and marvel at past historical moments. The signing of the Paris Agreement in December 2015 was a "watershed moment," for international unity and also for business, says Cynthia Cummins , Director of Private Sector Climate Mitigation for World Resources Institute, in a recent interview with TriplePundit.
Con Thien In 1967, John Musgrave was an 18-year-old Marine serving in Con Thien, an outpost just south of the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam. "Con Thien" translates to "hill of angles," but in 1967 It was, as the Marines called it, a " little piece of hell."
One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic Be it from social unrest, economic upheaval, or environmental collapse, forced human migration is at unprecedented levels. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 65 million displaced people in the world today. Of those, more than 22 million are forced refugees.
Jason Mark's 2015 Satellites in the High Country asks an essential question: What is wilderness? Is there any wilderness left on earth? If so, where is it? If it is true that a radioactive haze has settled across the globe, then indeed, there is no wilderness left; no place left untouched by the actions of one species.
From the doleful musing of a gloomy donkey in a children's story to a cultural meme, "it'll never work" is quintessential shorthand for unyielding pessimism. Everything is all wrong and any attempt to fix it will fail, so why try?
I have to hand it to President Donald Trump. He forces a stand. So here it is: The president is not the presidency. For Americans, indeed for all the world, the presidency is a symbol of respect, leadership, and immense power. It represents America democracy.
Humans have always had an intimate, complicated relationship with forests. We clear away trees to make room for development and agriculture, harvest them for paper, pulp, and palm oil and seek refuge in their remaining intact solitude. Human wellbeing depends on trees.
On Tuesday, August 29, as Hurricane Harvey lingered over Houston dumping an " unprecedented " four feet of rain, plus a few inches, the presidential entourage landed in Corpus Christi. Three days earlier Hurricane Harvey came ashore north of Corpus, pounding the small community of Rockport as a Category 4 storm.
Today is Earth Overshoot Day. As of today, the year is done for planet Earth, she has given all the natural capital she can for this year. It may seem counter-intuitive at first. Obviously, we aren't done with 2017 yet. How can we take more than the Earth makes, for decades on end?
From Doc Ricketts to Mack to Dora Flood, Monterey is the stuff of legend, the iconic fishing town hugging the Pacific Coast of central California. Brought to life by the characters of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, the abundance of Monterey Bay fueled Steinbeck's imagination.
In 1982, Time magazine named the personal computer its "Machine of the Year." Subtitled "the computer moves in," Time's designation foreshadowed what its writers could barely imagine. The mainframe had been around for decades, of course; but they were anything but personal, requiring a crew to run one.
Waste implies squandered resources, be they time, money or materials. Managing money and time are core competencies of any successful business. But somehow, trash and garbage have gotten a free pass.Fortunately, that is changing. As companies embrace one form or other of "zero waste" commitments, the business-case for efficient and sustainable resource flow management is catching on.
Observers from pre-industrial times could only imagine the world-changing possibilities lying dormant in the pent-up energy of ancient rocks, or the remains of long-dead flora and fauna. Only a visionary few came close. For most, the health, wealth and material abundance made possible by an industrial economy was simply inconceivable.
The corporate waste stream can be complicated. Recalled products, expired pharmaceuticals and electronics containing personal data are just some of the waste items that can give companies pause: They can't be reused or resold, but landfilling them wastes resources. That's where secure destruction comes in -- and it can even create clean energy.
Be Present and Imagine the Future You Want Yesterday morning I spoke with Cyril Dion, a French filmmaker, writer, and activist. Dion co-produced the documentary with actress, director, screenwriter, and musician Melanie Laurent. Tomorrow won the 2016 French César for Best Documentary. After successful release in more than 20 countries, the film made its U.S.
In late February, California's almond orchards awaken from their winter dormancy, transforming more than a million acres of fertile valley soil into a low canopy of pink and white blossoms ready for pollination and another season's harvest. Commercial almond production accounts for $5.3 billion of the state's $47.1 billion in agricultural output (2015), second only to milk and cream.
This morning, under the cover of "energy independence," U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for a rewrite of the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The Plan is the cornerstone of U.S. commitment to curbing emissions under the Paris climate agreement, so the rewrite represents a significant rollback of U.S.
WWF launched the Climate Savers Program in 1999 as a platform for corporate leadership in climate action. Partnering with leading companies within their sectors, Climate Savers guides and supports these leaders as they develop effective climate action plans.
Does the circular economy start where it ends or end where it starts? It's the classic chicken-or-egg conundrum. From the perspective of the consumer-driven linear model to which we are accustomed, the idea of a circular economy may be a bit obtuse, like our opening riddle. Or so it may seem.
Today, two days before Donald Trump ascends to the presidency, Scott Pruitt will face his Senate confirmation hearing to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt is now halfway through his second term as Attorney Genera l for the state of Oklahoma.
On Wednesday, the GRI announced the launch of the world's first Global Reporting Standards for sustainability reporting. These new standards give businesses large and small a common language for reporting non-financial information. They dovetail with recent global initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, in advancing integrated, un-siloed cooperation and transparency to address common challenges for a world in transition.
"Distance lends enchantment to the view." - Mark Twain Back when America was young and farmers outnumbered city folk, planning next year's crop typically included a quick look to the Farmers' Almanac for advice. Filled with seasonal forecasts, planting charts, tide tables and astronomical charts, the Farmers' Almanac was cutting edge technology for long-range forecasting when it was first published in 1792.
Plastic is the "key enabler for sectors as diverse as packaging, construction, transportation, healthcare and electronics," says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. But the durability and flexibility that render plastic a good fit for these applications mean we're drowning in it. The foundation consulted 180 experts and 200 publications to develop a fix.
Just as the COP22 climate talks opened in Marrakesh, Morocco, fresh on the heels of a historic year of progress and growing momentum, the surprising result of the interminable U.S. election sucked the air out of the room. Years of progress between China and the U.S.
Indiana is going solar. That may seem an odd thing to declare say about a state that gets 85 percent of its electricity generation from coal. Indeed, coal may be king, but the king is approaching the end of its reign. While there are a smattering of solar incentives in Indiana, it's the market and...
Solar power is no longer a boutique industry. At least 900 million solar panels are deployed across the globe. Eighty-one percent of those came online within the last five years. From rural villages in India to the rooftops of suburban America, photovoltaic solar is fast becoming a mainstream source of energy.
An environmentalist and a Republican walk into a bar... The punch line is that the Republican and environmentalist are the same guy. Though it needn't be a "punch line" at all. Jim Brainard, mayor of Carmel, Indiana, reminds as many as will listen - Democrat, Republican or "none of the above," but especially his GOP colleagues - that it wasn't always like this.
Air travel connects people, creates economic opportunity and support sustainable urban development. But it isn't all pie-in-the-sky. Significant challenges remain if we are to meet the development and climate goals outlined by United Nations -- and aviation will play a huge role in a low-carbon future.
Dean Scott, the senior climate change reporter for Bloomberg, moderated a panel discussion this weekend at the 2016 conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. The topic at hand was the upcoming U.S. election and what it means for climate change policy, particularly if Donald Trump wins the presidency.
What is a thought leader? If you're not careful, you'll find yourself going down a rabbit hole searching for the definitive answer . There is no shortage of opinion on what it means to be a thought leader. And still, we are suspicious, rightfully so, when someone calls themselves a "thought leader."
Adopted last September, the Sustainable Development Goals reflect the best aspirations for a world in transition. Building on the Millennium Development Goals of 2000, the SDGs integrate all stakeholders across developing and developed nations, challenging each to confront the global goals of sustainable development, social justice and equity.
In May of 2006, Al Gore's now-classic climate change documentary " An Inconvenient Truth"was released. The moviewon an Oscar in the Featured Documentary category, and Gore was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
What's so great about wilderness anyway? Does it even exist anymore? What does being "wild" even mean? Is nature just about ecosystem services, or is there an intrinsic value to the natural world beyond our interference, untrammeled by human activity? There is no place on the globe untouched by the work of humanity, even where it is not the intent.
The future of wildlife is in our hands - The UN named March 3 as World Wildlife Day at its 68th General Assembly on December 20, 2013. The designation aimed to coincide with adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) on March 3, 1973.
Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care - Today is World Environment Day, or WED. Every June 5th WED serves as a platform for the United Nations Environmental Programme to focus world attention on humanity's relationship with our environment. Every day, as sunrise moves across the Earth, 7 billion people awake to face another day.
Greenpeace revealed today the results of an undercover investigation showing how fossil fuel companies secretly pay academics from leading U.S. universities "to write research that sows doubt about climate science and promotes the companies' commercial interests," reported Lawrence Carter and Meave McClenaghan on EnergyDesk Greenpeace on Tuesday. Reporters from Greenpeace U.K.
Arguably one of the most important things to come out of the COP21 climate talks in Paris last December, aside from the Paris Agreement itself, is the signal sent solidifying the growing shift in the global consciousness. We seek a transformative path forward into the new century.
The life-cycle of the Monarch butterfly is epic. When cooler temperatures signal the coming North American winter, the vivid orange and black insect makes a grand 3,000 mile, multi-generational journey south to Mexico, at times flying at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet. The Monarch is the only butterfly species making such a long, two-way annual migration.
Later this year ministers, scientists, diplomats and heads of state from more than 190 countries will convene in Paris for COP 21 with the ambitious goal of adopting a binding international treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. The enormity of that task can be distilled to one number: two.
"Recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries, and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions."
This weekend world leaders met at the United Nations in New York City to define a sustainable development agenda through 2030, a process built on the successes, failures and lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 and expiring at the end of this year.
Next week delegates. ministers, heads-of-state and civil socity meet in Paris at COP21 in hopes of striking an international commitment limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Data recently released from the MET Office in the UK projects average global surface temperatures in 2015 are set to reach the threshold of 1 degree Celsius, halfway to the limit of "acceptable" climate change.
As we look at global mega-trends, we know that few challenges are as significant as the global water crisis.
Life would be a sad place without the Blues. That feeling of occasional melancholy, the ups and downs in life, bring with it some of our most sublime moments of expression. It adds color and dimension to our lives. We all have occasion to sing the Blues. Depression is different.
It doesn't seem that long ago that I brought home my first computer, a Mac Classic "plus" souped up with four megs of RAM (that's "megs" with an "M") sporting a 40-meg hard drive. The Motorola 6800 processor inside the plastic case ran at a blazing eight megahertz. I was thrilled.
If you're a CEO and want to report on your triple bottom line, where are you gonna go? GRI . Sustainability reporting is nothing new for readers of TriplePundit. Since the late 1990s, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has been the standard-bearer for corporate sustainability, literally creating the global standard for integrating non-financial metrics into business reporting.
Ten days of meetings wrapped up in Bonn this week as negotiators worked on the draft text of global climate treaty that, if all goes according to plan, will be finalized at the COP 21 climate conference in Paris later this year. The conference coincides with the G7's pledge to decarbonize their economies by the end...
by Thomas Schueneman You wouldn't think that greenwasshing would ever be a real problem when it comes to the Alberta Tar Sands. It is more or less assumed, or at least should be, that there's not much in the way of green when it comes to the process of squeezing low quality oil out of tar sand.
Nigeria is a land of contrasts and conflict. Too often potential allies are mistaken as enemies and, for the nation's more than 184 million people, one key path to survival is distinguishing who, or what, is truly the enemy.
An end to poverty - In this second decade of the 21st century, humanity faces perhaps the greatest challenge of our long history. As noted economist and director of the Columbia University Earth Institute Dr. Jeffry Sachs points out, we live in an age of great promise and yet terrifying peril.
by Thomas Schueneman The meaning of "green" and "sustainable" may be in danger of losing their meaning and impact. These terms are diluted as they become buzzwords for marketers seeking to ride the bandwagon fueled by a growing public eco-consciousness. But not so fast.
When Americans today think of the first Thanksgiving feast, we often lean on our childhood history lesson version of events; the brave settlers celebrating with their new neighbors the survival of those first harsh months in a new world.
March 9th, 2011 by Tom Schueneman This post has been entered in the Tck Tck Tck Rio+20 Blogger Prize.
Millions of children in America endure a cycle of poverty and food insecurity, often with seemingly few resources to ever break free. But a number of outstanding educational and community efforts are leading the way to a better future for our kids.
by Thomas Schueneman I can't tell if a recent Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ad is really meant to be taken seriously (or just seriously sell cars). It seems like a Saturday Night Live spoof at first. I checked to make sure it wasn't actually Saturday night as I watched.
February 11th, 2011 by Tom Schueneman As the world's economies continue to dig themselves out of the "Great Recession of '08", some are now looking to a rising stock market, a sputtering of new jobs, and an uptick in corporate profits (much of it from the same corporations that triggered the collapse in the first [&hellip
Editor's note: The following post is adapted from several previous posts published in GWIR over the past year about how cities are often the best examples of furthering sustainable development, resilience and adaptation in a climate-changed world. This post has been entered in the Masdar Engage blogging contest for the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week ---...
"Drink your milk...and eat your vegetables!" This is the unyielding cry heard across generations of families in America, a childhood memory for many. But what happens when the closest thing to a fresh vegetable (or fruit) is a soggy tomato atop a sandwich and, instead of a cold glass of milk to drink, there is only a bottle of sugary soda or fruit punch?
Editor's note: This is the second post in a three-part series on sustainable fish farming startups. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here. In the first post of this series, we introduced Kampachi Farms, an open-ocean mariculture startup on the Big Island of Hawaii co-founded by Neil Sims and Michael Bullock.
Editor's note: This is the first post in a three-part series on sustainable fish farming startups. Stay tuned for the next installment tomorrow! Powered by their rapidly expanding populations, emerging world economies are working hard to close the gap with developed nations.
When Detroit's Big Three automakers flew their corporate jets to Washington, D.C. in 2008, to plead Congress for a $25 billion bailout, those airplanes conveyed not just their contrite passengers but also a public image of corporate aviation as an excessive luxury - how the "one percent" get around (including some preachy environmentalists).
As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 13-17, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called "Engage: The Water-Energy Nexus." The following post was among the finalists. The water-energy nexus - the fundamental connection between water and energy - may not seem an overly complex concept to initially grasp - and yet its implications are not fully understood in our industrial, resource-strained, climate-changed world.
Editor's note: This is the third post in a three-part series on sustainable fish farming startups. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here. In the first two posts of this series, we introduced Kampachi Farms, an open-ocean mariculture startup on the Big Island of Hawaii co-founded by Neil Sims and Michael Bullock.
This article is part of a series on "The ROI of Sustainability," written with the support of MeterHero . MeterHero helps companies and organizations offset their water and energy footprints through consumer engagement. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here. Just like everyone else, the Pillsbury Doughboy needs water to survive.
March 25th, 2011 by Tom Schueneman In defense of Earth Hour - 8:30PM this coming Saturday is the fifth annual Earth Hour event, which began in Sydney Australia in 2007. I admit to my own personal ambivalence of Earth Hour: Does it send the right message?
Over the past three days, we've seen what we've been calling "A Greener Shade of Greenwash" from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). In Part One we laid the foundation. Showing how the NRA uses slick marketing and well-produced multimedia to deliver a message supposedly promoting green business practices, emphasizing the advantages of appealing to the eco-minded customer and implementing sustainability best practices.
Polar bear on the Western Hudson Bay - My recent adventure participating in the Earthwatch expedition based at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre presented a unique opportunity for a one-on-one discussion with Dr. Nick Lunn of the Canadian Wildlife Service. Nick is one of a handful of scientists focusing their efforts, knowledge, and talent on...
Earth Day is over for this year, but what is arguably more important than the day itself is the day after - and the day after that (and the day after that...). Earth Day serves as the rallying cry calling for the sustained action that drives progressive environmental trends.
by Thomas Schueneman Late last month McDonald's announced the addition of " Fish McBites" to the menu for their 14,000 US restaurants starting in February. Labeled as "juicy, tender and irresistible," the fast food chain is also touting that they will source the fish for the new product from sustainable wild-caught Alaskan pollock fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Clean Power The Intersolar North America Conference in San Francisco has wrapped for another year, and if last year's theme in my post-show commentary was " Solar is Ready to Launch," then this year is "Solar Gets Down to Business!"
This is a guest post by Tom Schueneman,a finalist in the TckTckTck Rio Blogger Prize competition. If you would like to see this entrant as the official TckTckTck blogger at Rio+20 this June, please help spread the word by sharing this post on your social networks .
Clean Power I spent two days last week at the Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco, speaking with key people within the industry, from solar panel producers to developers of testing and control software for solar cell manufacturers, inverter makers, solar system designers, silver paste materials manufactures and more.
A look at Warren Karlenzig's work in modern day sprawl, sustainable development and the future of the city
Recapping a discussion with biologist Dr. Nick Lunn while at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre on the fate of the Hudson Bay polar bear population