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The very well-funded war against climate science and all of us

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The Roman statesman Cicero quoted Lucius Cassius’s simple maxim “Cui Bono?” or “Who benefits?” This year some excellent investigative journalism by The Independent, DeSmogBlog and The Guardian revealed some startling information about the original funding of the US Tea Party movement and the current funding of climate change deniers.

Back in 2011, the brilliant blogger, Graham Readfearn, pointed out that mining billionaire Gina Rinehart had funded a recent trip made by serial climate change denier Lord Monckton.

We have believed for some time that those who profit most from weak environmental regulation have been actively funding climate change deniers. However, we did not expect the smorgasbord of evidence we were to get in one week.

In January, The Independent ran with the story that an anonymously funded group, The Donors Trust, was funding climate change denial think tanks.

On Monday last week DeSmogBlog covered a British Medical Journal report that said the US Tea Party had been created by the big tobacco lobby and billionaires, not, as many of its supporters believe, as a grassroots movement.

This is the self-same tobacco lobby that had successfully lobbied against legal action based on the proven link between smoking and cancer.

Then on Valentine’s Day, The Guardian revealed even more of the behaviour of the secretive Donors Trust that had “distributed $118m to 102 think tanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.”

This is in turn picked up by DeSmogBlog, which published a powerful chart (see right), illustrating how the Donors Trust had rapidly overtaken the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil as funders of anti-environmental pressure groups.

Climate denial funds from fossil sources: Greenpeace/DeSmogBlog. (Click to enlarge).

However, this is not just a peculiarly US phenomenon. As The Guardian revealed on Saturday, the same secretive techniques are being used in the UK with the Global Warming Policy Foundation being less than forthcoming about its funding. This groups is led by one of our horsemen of the climate apocalypse and former ‘big bang, boom and bust’ chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Lawson.

If these organisations are genuinely independent of vested interests and not ideologically driven, why are they so coy about who funds them?

One commenter, photosymbiont, on The Guardian rather perfectly answered this question with reference to a report that the Donors Trust was funding media campaigns to halt the expansion of renewal energy in some US states:

Why do they need to remain anonymous, while supporters of renewable energy don’t? Compare the two arguments:

1) I’ve got a lot of holdings in coal and oil and I want my investments to pay off over the next couple of decades. Yes, coal and oil production leads to global warming and has all kinds of associated air and water pollution problems, but I love hanging out at the country club and watching my dividends role (sic) in. Sure, fossil fuel energy is on the way out and will be replaced by renewables, and the countries that lead the way will end up as economic winners with good trade budgets, but I’m really more concerned about my own lifestyle than the economic or ecological health of my country, so I’m going to run this denialist campaign aimed at blocking action on global warming and preventing renewable energy from cutting into my market share. Gosh, I better do this in secret using astroturf front groups or everyone will laugh in my face, right? I mean, “Coal company investor says global warming isn’t a problem and renewable energy won’t work…” Well, nobody would buy that, would they? Sounds rather like “Kerosene lamp manufacturer says new-fangled electric light is uneconomical and dangerous,” doesn’t it? So, front groups it is.

OR,

2) Look, global warming is a problem and so is fossil fuel related pollution, but we can eliminate fossil fuel dependence by rapidly developing wind and solar technology, coupled to energy storage systems (as well as more efficient end-user tech in areas like transportation, heating/cooling, etc.). Whoever develops this technology first will be in a great economic position, [too], since they can then sell it to the rest of the world. Thus, the smart thing to do is eliminate all the subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear – which amount to billions each year – and instead focus government efforts and private capital on rapidly growing renewable energy capacity. Yes, I’m invested in renewable energy companies that will benefit from this approach, but since this is an economic win-win for almost everyone (except argument #1) in my country, and will also clean up the air and water, I don’t need to sneak around in secret setting up astroturf campaigns to promote my agenda. And yes, I intend to make a lot of money off renewable energy, within reason, but everyone will benefit  from limiting global warming and environmental pollution as a result, so I have nothing to hide.

That would be the explanation for the secrecy, right?

Who benefits from campaigning against climate science? Certainly not society at large or the planet.

In short, resource billionaires benefit the most from the fossil fuel status quo and are waging a war against climate science, the environment and everyone else.

Further reading:

The four horsemen of the climate apocalypse

The anonymous billionaire group funding climate change denial

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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