Tricks of the Trade – 1

Social change marketing

For a few years now, “community-based social marketing” has been a buzz phrase for behaviour change programs.  Espoused by Doug McKenzie-Mohr and Will Smith (1999) in their book Fostering Sustainable Behaviour, community-based social marketing offers tools to help environmentalists to appeal to large segments of the population. The goal is to deliver programs that remove the barriers and enhance the benefits for widespread social change. Social change campaigns are therefore underpinned by a clear identification of the barriers to behaviour change (eg. people who do not grow food in their backyards may perceive it to be hard work and expensive)…. read more

Looking Forward

President Obama and the Environment

Now that the election is over and a candidate has been selected, it is time to begin looking forward at what kind of second term president Barack Obama is going to be, especially regarding the environment and climate change. Over the course of the campaign, President Obama dodged questions about the environment and was vague in those he did answer, but there was mention of a “warming planet” during his acceptance speech, amidst the plethora of other issues a president must concern themselves with. He made an effort to tell the American public he will be concerned about climate change… read more

Conserving Rainwater

Conserving rainwater

Legend says that over two thirds of our earth is covered with water. But the sad part is that most of it is spread out as saline sea water. Only 3 percent of this huge volume comprises of domestically usable water. Further, this percentage shrinks to less than 1 percent when we talk about drinkable fresh water; that too locked in the ice caps. In the Middle East, over a dozen countries face problem of unavailable drinking water. In several Asian countries, unavailability of treated water forces the rural women to travel several miles every day and accumulate usable water… read more

Warfare Threats

Chemical and biological warfare

The utilisation of harmful chemicals as a weapon in combat was banned by the international community through the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) of 1997. The secretary general of the United Nations Dr Ban Ki-moon made a press statement wherein he emphatically discouraged Syria from using biological warfare against anti-government insurgents. The secretary general intimated that there would be dire consequences for Syria if it did not heed the call to refrain from using biological warfare, because chemical weapons have no place in the… read more

Toxic Goals

US tax credits

As the end of the year approaches, the time for the federal government to take action on the wind tax credit is dwindling. Of course, there are vested interests and special interest groups lobbying for each side—extending or letting the credits expire—and some groups are more powerful than others. Fossil fuel groups have been increasing their mobilization to defeat the credit, and their agendas and intentions are becoming less discreet. The American Energy Alliance, which has ties to far-right Koch Industries, stated this week it aims to make the wind tax credit a toxic issue for House Republicans; Benjamin Cole,… read more

Is Cap and Trade Needed?

Cap and trade policy

Cap-and-trade has derailed political discussions and political action regarding environmental and energy policy, and as a result, the necessity of a cap-and-trade policy has been questioned. Simply stated, the answer is fairly straight-forward: cap-and-trade is ineffective in the short-term, at least in the United States, yet critical for long-term emission reduction and responsible energy policy. Negotiations over a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate collapsed in April 2010, leaving a void in environmental policy with responsible energy management legislation. Interestingly enough, even without a cap-and-trade policy established, U.S. carbon emissions continued to drop. Since 2006, the United States has cut its… read more

Reckless Endangerment

Environmental policy, US election

There is only so much a reasonable perspective can allow for ridiculous and inane policy proposals, and every single line that has been drawn has been crossed by Mitt Romney and the Romney campaign. While there is time for unbiased criticism of policy, there comes a point when an event proves a policy so incorrect, and so out of touch with reason, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to justify considering it legitimate. Hurricane Sandy is an event which does all those things, and though devastating, it has shown the policies proposed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are… read more

Support from the Masses

Solar energy support

A recent poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid shows nine out of ten respondents favor solar energy as part of a U.S. energy policy and a bigger part of the energy supply. Additionally, 81% believe solar power should be used in state and federal residencies, such as governor’s houses and the White House, and 80% want their elected representatives to support solar energy. Further, 81% of respondents said decreasing dependency on fossil fuels is good for the economy and environment, and 80% said financial benefits are the biggest advantages to solar power. Finally, 72% believe solar industry jobs are better than their… read more

Continued Climate Silence

Climate change silence

Climate change and the environment have been largely ignored by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, but the debates offered another hope for environmentalists and progressives for a discussion on solutions and strategies to combat climate change. However, it has been more of the same, with no mentions of the subject and still ignored. Worse yet, the debate moderators, Jim Lehrer and Candy Crowley, had the option to ask about climate change, but decided against it, favoring questions on the economy. The decision is fair, albeit annoying—the economy is an important issue which needs to be discussed, and voters are… read more

NASA Nailed It

Effects of Hurricane Sandy

Six years ago, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York warned the city of the vulnerability to hurricane impacts in a changing climate. It was calculated that with a 1.5 foot rise in sea levels, a worst-case-scenario Category 3 hurricane could submerge the vast majority of the city, including “the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge.” These findings came on the heels of the release of… read more