There is an air of fatalism amongst some climate scientists as the forces of denial outspend and outmanoeuvre climatologists in the court of public opinion. The battle is not really about science anymore. Simon Leadbetter suggests we need to win hearts, minds and most importantly the wallets of those that remain sceptical of the threat that exists. As Deep Throat (All The President’s Men – 1976) would say, “follow the money”.
We live in a material world, as Madonna sang in 1985. Socialism was defeated in 1989, western capitalism won and we all lived happily ever after with inexorably rising living standards and investments, job security, early retirement, falling crime and clear blue skies. A nation truly at peace with itself in a world no longer under the cloud of mutually assured destruction…
This promised land did not transpire. We have lurched through two deep recessions, the most recent being the deepest and longest since the Great Depression. Living standards have been flat for the vast majority of the population, despite an unsustainable but extended period of GDP growth. Debt levels remain too high at a global, national and individual level. House prices and stock markets are highly volatile and unemployment creeps back up to 3m, with record levels amongst 18-24 year olds and many older people deferring retirement. And a force we trained and armed to defeat the Evil Empire (the USSR) turned against us in the form of Al-Qaeda, committing acts of terrorism in Madrid, New York, London and Iraq.
And what about the planet? We have continued to pump billions of tonnes of material that was historically locked away under the earth, into the atmosphere, despite papers as far back as the 1970s predicting global warming. As China, India, Brazil and the rest of developing world industrialise to levels we in the developed world have grown accustomed to, so we need to mine ever deeper for more materials to burn, ejecting ever more and more pollution into the atmosphere.
Many feel that nothing can be done or don’t believe an individual can make a difference. The capitalist system is simply too powerful. Many in the national press tell us constantly that there is no alternative to our Anglo-Saxon capitalism. But there are many forms of capitalism: From unfettered American capitalism, which feels alien to Brits who visit the States; to Canadians who have concerns about their southern neighbour’s excesses; Nordic capitalism is profoundly different to our own; Europeans do something different with their capitalism; as do the Chinese (a repressive regime); Indians, etc.
Money is not the root of all evil, as is often misquoted. It performs a valuable function allowing for the free exchange of goods and services between people and nations without having to work out the exchange rate for a horse as you did under a barter system. Is it worth one or two bushels of wheat? Anyone?
But the love of money is the root of all evil, in politicians (e.g. MPs expenses/Cash for Honours), business leaders (Enron, Worldcom, Lehman Brothers), sports (Premiership salaries) and ourselves. The endless pursuit of financial gain, or the things that money can buy, has distorted the world economy, impoverished us all ethically and made us lose sight of what really enriches our lives; our integrity, our relationship with friends, families and neighbours, our health and our peace of mind.
This love of acquiring more money for money’s sake is wrecking our lives, putting our children’s future and that of our planet at risk.
But individuals are making a difference.
Many have found an alternative that pays the double dividend of a healthy return on investment and minimising the harm or maximising the good that their investment does.
As EIRIS reported in November last year that £11.5bn is invested in ethical funds in the UK, representing some 750,000 private investors, 500,000 more than in 2004. To get a sense of scale, only 11% of the adult population or 4.9million people have investments in stocks and shares. Many investors use our form to be connected with an adviser who can make their investments make a difference as well as pay a dividend.
In December Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted that investment in clean energy had overtaken investment in fossil fuel investment, and in October we took a look at the Ernst & Young’s Cleantech 100 which recognises the pioneers of cleaner technology.
One of the first stories we covered in our digital edition back in October was the news that the world’s largest investors, representing $20 trillion, were calling for more urgent action on climate change. World GDP is around $63 trillion so that’s a fairly large sum.
Every day thousands of individuals are choosing to invest and buy more sustainably, balancing the needs of the planet, its people and our future prosperity. Every day engineers and scientists are finding new ways to create cleaner energy and more efficient ways of producing the things we consume. Every day scientists explore the effects of climate change and how we can mitigate against its effects, adapt to them or, worst case, geoengineer our way out of the mess we’ve made. Every day companies are getting their house in order recognising that pollution and waste cost them profit and will increasingly threaten their survival. Every day Governments round the world are making decisions that put the future of the planet above narrow national interest.
A few hundred people may be protesting on the steps of St Pauls about how broken our model of capitalism is. 750,000 investors in the UK alone are trying to build a less harmful more sustainable form of capitalism for the next generation to benefit from.
This series of myths started with Skeptical Science taking on ten myths about climate change. Skeptical Science itself started as its creator, John Cook, was arguing with his father-in-law about global warming and wanted to answer unsubstantiated opinions with scientific evidence. The final two myths are core to Blue & Green Tomorrow’s mission. Yesterday we argued that we need to focus on issues that matter to people in the argument over climate change such as the damage pollution of all kinds is doing to us and our children and the risks of wasting finite resources. Finally today we suggest that it is investment that can make the biggest difference to our futures and many smart investors have already made the decision to make a difference.
We remain profoundly optimistic that something can and will be done. You can do something today. Simply pick up the phone to your IFA and ask them about ethical investment. If you don’t have one or your adviser dismisses the idea then use our form and we’ll connect you with one who will help.
How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green
The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.
Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.
Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.
So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.
You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.
So what can you actually do to create a greener home?
Turn to tech.
Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.
Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.
The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.
However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.
Use Smart Plugs
Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.
A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.
Update Your Lighting
Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.
To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.
Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Take Control of the Thermostat
Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.
In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.
Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.
Stop Wasting Water
The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.
Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.
If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.
Working From Home And How It Reduces Emissions
Many businesses are changing their operating model to allow their employees to work from home. Aside from the personal convenience and business benefits, working from home is also great for the environment. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, if employees with the desire to work from home and compatible jobs that allowed for this were allowed to do so only half the time, the reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of eliminating automobile emissions from the workforce of the entire state of New York. Considering the stakes here, it is vital that we understand how exactly working from home helps us go green and how this can be applied.
Reduction of automobile emissions
Statistics by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the transportation sector is responsible for about 14% of the total Global Emissions of greenhouse gases, which is a very significant percentage. If employees work from home, then the need to travel to and from their workplace every other day as well as other business trips are reduced considerably. While this may not eliminate the emissions from the transport sector altogether, it reduces the percentage. As indicated in the example above, a move to work from home by more businesses and industries cuts down automobile emissions to as much as those from an entire state.
Reduction of energy production and consumption
According to Eurostat, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning accounted for as high as 26% of the Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU in 2014. EPA stats are also close at 25% of the total emissions. This makes energy production the single largest source of emissions. Working from home eliminates the need for large office spaces, which in turn reduces the need for electricity and heating. Similarly, the need for electrical office equipment and supplies, such as printers and computers, is also greatly reduced, which reduces the emissions from energy production in offices. Additionally, most households are now adopting green methods of energy production and implementing better ways of energy usage. The use of smart energy-efficient appliances also goes a long way in reducing the energy production and consumption levels from households. This, in turn, cuts down emissions from energy production from both the home and office fronts.
Reduced need for paper
Paper is also a huge source of emissions, considering that it is a carbon-based product. EPA stats show that carbon (IV) oxide from fossil fuel and industrial processes accounts for 65% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Working from home is usually an internet-based operation, which means less paper and more cloud-based services. When everything is communicated electronically, the need for office paper is reduced considerably. Moreover, the cutting down of trees for the sake of paper production reduces. All these outcomes help reduce the emissions and individual carbon footprints.
While businesses make an effort to recycle it is not as effective as homeowners. Consider everything from the water you drink to office supplies and equipment. While working from home, you have greater control over your environment. This means that you can easily implement proper recycling procedures. However, at the office, that control over your personal space and environment is taken away and the effectiveness of recycling techniques is reduced. Working from home is, therefore, a great way to go green and increase the adoption of proper recycling.
Even though the statistics are in favor of working from home to reduce emissions, note that this is dependent on the reduction of emissions from home. If the households are not green, then the emissions are not reduced in the least. For instance, if instead of installing a VPN in the router to keep the home office safe, an employee buys a standalone server and air gaps it, the energy consumption is not reduced but increased. Therefore, it is necessary that employees working from home go green if there is to be any hope of using this method of operation to cut down on the emissions.