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The Funds Behind A Peaceful Environmental Movement

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Starting an environmental movement might not be easy, but it’s possible. In fact, with the right funding, your movement could really grow some roots. Unfortunately, cash is a necessary evil in order to, really get the word out, structure a plan, create a website, purchase materials, and even support other worthy causes to web those meaningful common interests.

Though it might seem like every movement in the world runs solely on donations- most of them begin with loans or a sacrificial investment on behalf of the founder. During its 21-year existence, the Environment Support Center (ESC) gave out over $822,000 in loans and $2.5 million in grants to small environmental organizations.

Here is an overview on what to do with your passion and ideas.

Getting Started

It takes something to get a movement going. At first what you need are a few more people. Getting your first follower is critical- you’ll need someone that can advocate for your cause just as much as you can. Once your organization has grown to at least a handful, you’ll need a plan.

  • Define what you want. Be specific. When people are going to donate, they like to know exactly where their money is going to go especially if your organization is new. A physical goal, like building a well or rescuing a sick animal, is better to start out with too. This first goal should be reachable within a few months if not weeks. A larger, inspirational goal can be there, too but starting with small wins will help get people on board. This is the start of your momentum.

If your goal is conservation based, you may want to start local, find a lot of support, and then branch out. Heartwood and Living Rivers are good examples of a regional approach to reaching a big goal.

  • Set up a platform. You’ll need some way to get the word out and organize your followers. Social media is a great, free option. Your website, also, is even better. Depending on the size of your group and its goals this might be where you’ll want to start thinking about a base of operations, too.
  • Think about the future. Now that you have some momentum but before you move ahead a bit. Do you want your group to be a nonprofit? Do you plan on producing a product or turning a profit? Not all movements and organizations are charities. The Great Seed Bomb in Texas isn’t but they still do a great job at supporting their cause.
  • Funding. Depending on the structure you chose, your method of fundraising maybe a little different. However, you can and always will be able to ask for donations. For most environmental movements this is the core of their financial strategy–after it gets going. Meeting those initial goals may require a bit more.
  • Goal Met? Repeat. Once your first goal is reached, it’s time to celebrate. Though soon after, charge straight into the next goal. Use your accomplishments to prove your credibility and show that yes, you can make a difference. The more you accomplish, the larger your movement will grow.

Non-profit v. For Profit

Choosing how to structure your organization is a big decision, but it all comes back to one issue: fundraising. While non-profit groups take donations and have no expectations to return the money, for profit groups are expected to give something back. It can be a product or a share, but it’s supposed to be something.

Non-profits are also tax exempt (in most ways). This comes with restrictions: their efforts cannot interfere with political campaigns and how they spend their money is monitored more closely than that of a for-profit organization.

It’s never a bad idea to consult with an experienced accountant or attorney regarding your goals and what the financial benefits of each strategy would be. This is especially true if you produce a product or plan to in the future.

Funding Options Beyond Donations

Accomplishing something, whether it’s for a good cause or not, takes money in nearly every case. The larger the movement, the more it takes. The #NoDAPL protesters needed funds for food, housing, warmth, sanitation, medical services, and more. If you’re trying to get one of your goals accomplished now but lack resources, you don’t just have to wait for donations. You have options like:

Installment Loans – The fastest way to get cash when you need it. Installment loans can fund your first big win and give you plenty of momentum. With predictable payments over time, you will have a longer window of opportunity to gather donations for immediate goals.

Grants – You can search for federal, state, and local grants or those provided by local businesses and organizations. Though the grant process can be lengthy, it can also provide a significant funding boost when (or before) you need it.

Corporate Funding and Sponsors – Any movement can be funded by a business. Even if they don’t offer, you can ask. It offers them a way to support the community or even a cause that aligns with their interests. As a registered nonprofit or charity you can also provide valuable tax deductions. Think about what businesses your movement or organization might benefit if it succeeds.

Partnerships – Partnering with another organization can give you a lot of exposure and a potential rush of donations. Finding a partner doesn’t mean you have to find another group with the same goal- similar goals can inspire the same groups of people.

Final Thought

If you have a good cause and your goal is to build on it, than don’t hold back. There’s only one way to resist unethical practices and that’s by standing up, making sure your voice is heard and making the difference in the community however small your movement is.

 

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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