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COP21: Global Concern about Climate Change, Broad Support for Limiting Emissions



As world leaders prepare to negotiate an agreement that will frame a global climate change agenda for the next decade and beyond, a new Pew Research Center survey finds there is an international consensus that climate change poses a serious challenge.

Majorities in all 40 nations polled say climate change is a serious problem and a global median of 54% consider it a very serious problem.  A median of 78% support the idea of their country limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement to be discussed at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, or COP21.

Yet there are significant regional differences on the perceived problems posed by global warming. Worries are especially strong in Latin America and Africa. And Americans and Chinese, whose economies are responsible for the greatest annual CO2 emissions, are among the least concerned. In the U.S., 45% of people surveyed say global climate change is a very serious problem and 18% of people surveyed in China say the same.

“The global consensus is that climate change is a serious challenge, not a distant threat,” said Richard Wike, Director of Global Attitudes Research. “In fact, majorities in most of the nations surveyed say the world’s changing climate is either causing harm in people’s lives now or will cause harm to them in the near future.”

Across the nations surveyed, a median of 51% believe people are already being harmed by climate change and another 28% think people will be harmed in the next few years. More than half of those polled in 39 of 40 countries are concerned it will cause harm to them personally during their lifetime, and a global median of 40% are very worried about this.

“But such broad, general support masks significant partisan differences,” said Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes. “Opinions on climate change tend to fall along partisan lines in many of the world’s wealthier nations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.”

There is general agreement about what should be done to deal with global warming. As the Paris conference approaches, majorities in 39 nations say they support their country limiting its emissions as part of a climate accord. Even in China and the United States, large majorities support an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

These are among the key findings from a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted in 40 nations among 45,435 respondents from March 25 to May 27, 2015. Additional key findings in the report include:

Climate Change Consequences: People worldwide are concerned about a variety of possible consequences of climate change, but drought tops the list. Drought is the most commonly named consequence (or tied for the most commonly named) in 31 countries, including the U.S., where 50% say this is the possible effect that concerns them most. Fears of drought are particularly prevalent in Latin America and Africa. In both regions, a median of 59% say this is their top concern.

Lifestyle Changes: According to most respondents, confronting climate change will entail more than just policy changes; it will also require significant changes in how people live. A global median of 67% say that to reduce the effects of climate change, people will have to make major changes in their lives. A median of just 22% believe technology can solve this problem without requiring major changes. Even in the U.S., a country known for its technological innovations, 66% believe people will need to significantly alter their lifestyles.

Wealthy nations should do more: In most countries, people tend to believe much of the burden for dealing with climate change should be shouldered by wealthier countries. Across the nations polled, a median of 54% agree with the statement “Rich countries, such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, should do more than developing countries because they have produced most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions so far.” A median of just 38% believe “Developing countries should do just as much as rich countries because they will produce most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in the future.”

Partisan Divides:  In the U.S., Democrats (68%) are much more likely than Republicans (20%) to believe climate change is a very serious problem and Democrats (82%) more than adherents of the GOP (50%) are supportive of government action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Partisan divisions on perceptions of climate change are also seen in several other relatively wealthy nations. In Canada, 45% of the supporters of the Conservative party believe that global warming will harm them personally. This compares with 71% of Liberals, who just assumed leadership of the country.

In Australia there is a similar difference, just 31% of Liberals see climate change as harming them, compared with 65% of Labor Party supporters and 72% of Greens. In Germany, 51% of CDU/CSU followers are worried about the personal effects of global warming, but 63% of SPD supporters and 76% of Greens hold this view. Similarly, in the UK, followers of the Conservative Party (39%) are far less worried than backers of the Labour Party (49%).

Support for Emissions Limits: Roughly two-thirds (69%) of Americans favor Washington agreeing to a multilateral commitment to limit the burning of pollutants such as coal, natural gas or petroleum. In China, the nation responsible for the greatest annual release of CO2 into the atmosphere, about seven-in-ten (71%) support an international treaty to curtail emissions. Regionally, the greatest enthusiasm for limiting emissions is in Europe (a median of 87%). Support is also strong in Latin America (median of 83%). The lowest backing, while still high, is in the Middle East (73%).

Country-specific findings:  A median of 51% of people across the countries surveyed believe people are already being harmed by climate change, but that figure varies widely by country.  In Brazil, 90% of people surveyed agree, 59% of people in France, 49% in China, 42% in India, 41% in the U.S. and 31% in South Africa. A median of 40% of those in the nations polled believe climate change will harm them in their lifetime. That figure was 78% in Brazil, 69% in India, 39% in South Africa, 35% in France, 30% in the U.S. and 15% in China.

The findings are here.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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