links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

californiatexashawaii
floridaalaskalouisianaillinois
idahotennesseewest virginia New Hampshire

 
The US States:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

July 22, 2014
Friends,“In each pause I hear the call”
Ralph Waldo EmersonThis quote has been especially front of mind this year because LRN, the company I have devoted my life to building, is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and milestones are perfect occasions to pause. Pausing and mindfulness are in vogue in the world today; there is even a meditation room in Newark airport. However, we can go so much deeper in our pauses than merely taking respite from the frenzied pace of life. As I wrote in FastCompany, “Why There’s More to Taking a Break than Just Sitting There,” pausing is essential in the 21st century, because it is what allows us to thrive in an interdependent world in which we need to think deeply about how every action we take affects others, reconnect with our values and purpose, and, from there, to re-imagine our future. It is in that spirit that I invite you to pause with me.

As a parent of two small children, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help them grow into thoughtful, ethical people. A critical piece of this is teaching them right and wrong and how to atone when they behave badly. It is easy to inadvertently teach children to treat apologies as verbal escape routes out of a problem. It is much harder to teach them to treat an apology as a moment to pause, reflect and take responsibility for the behavior that led to the act for which they are contrite.

It is a problem endemic to our society; we have an apology inflation on our hands, as it has become habitual – in business, politics, entertainment, sports – to churn out one knee-jerk apology after another in response to a public mistake. In reaction to this trend, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and I have partnered to launch The Apology Project in the Dealbook section of the Times. The goal of the project is to elevate the conversation about apologies so that people view them as meaningful opportunities to change behavior, instead of as “get out of jail free” cards, through profiles of meaningful apologies and crowd-sourcing surveys of recent apologies.

 

Of course, parents know that the real key is to inculcate the right values in our children so that they will rely on these values to make decisions, hopefully preventing misbehavior in the first place. As hard as it might be to do this in the context of a family unit, it is even harder to do at the scale of a global corporation. This is why the work of LRN and our partners in the ethics and compliance industry is so meaningful. In our annual Knowledge Forum, where LRN gathers its partners together for learning and discussion, we reflected on how our mission is to enable employees to pause, that is, to reflect on their values, the law, and the consequences of their action or inaction (e.g. before taking a bribe, when witnessing misconduct). Ethics and compliance officers are in the “pause” business, but they aren’t alone. Anyone who is trying to provoke reflection, re-assessment, and re-imagination is in the “pause” business; it is, in fact, what leaders do. Leaders pause for themselves and create contexts in which others can pause. 

 
To pause is fundamentally human. Machines are automated and keep going unthinkingly; humans have the freedom to re-imagine and pivot to a different path. To pivot is to plant one foot on the ground and move the other foot in a new direction. To “pivot” in business, especially in Silicon Valley, means to radically shift your strategy and business model, usually because of shifts in market or customer feedback. Twitter used to be a podcast-discovery company, and PayPal used to be meant for “beaming” money between PDAs before they pivoted and landed on the right business model. Silicon Valley is truly the birthplace of the pivot, and, as I said to the crowd onstage while I was talking with Tom Friedman in this year’s Next New World Forum in San Francisco, pivoting requires pausing. To pivot is to ground one’s self in one’s beliefs, convictions and values while re-imagining a new direction that adapts to a changing world. We only have the freedom to pivot when we allow ourselves to embark on a true journey. It is when we try to follow linear calendars and budgets that we lock ourselves into our plans and operate on autopilot. 
 

More and more people are pausing to assess and re-imagine the direction in which many institutions are headed, including capitalism itself. Of course, most remain firm believers in capitalism as the best economic system for generating prosperity, but many are, nevertheless, acutely aware of its current problems (i.e. growing income inequality) and grasp the need to move capitalism in a new direction. The leaders behind Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism (whose annual conference I had the honor of keynoting this year), Creative Capitalism, Responsible Capitalism and Capitalism 2.0 are re-imagining business in a way that is much more conscious of all stakeholders and the operating environment. Some are worried about the abuses of freedom in a free market system and want to restrict people’s freedom, but that is because they are operating from a one-sided view of freedom. Freedom is really an intricate dynamic between “freedom from” (top-down hierarchy, gatekeepers) and “freedom to” (collaborate, innovate, pursue meaning, do the right thing, etc). It is this dynamic of freedom that ought to be at the heart of free enterprise. This is not just a philosophical distinction. In LRN’s biggest study since the HOW Report, the Freedom Report shows that the companies that have the right balance of freedom are more likely to outperform, out-innovate, and be resilient for the long run.

 

Beyond capitalism, people are re-imagining every dimension of society. The National Football League (NFL), for instance, is pausing to re-define the recipe for winning. Instead of training players solely as tough performers, the League is endeavoring to infuse locker rooms with human values such as respect and collaboration, where a player can bring his whole self, as a “person, father, and husband.” LRN is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of their journey. The League isn’t the only “rough and tumble” organization that is rethinking the culture in which its people are formed.

 

Confronted with the demands of modern warfare, the U.S. Army is also re-imagining and reshaping basic training in a way that trains soldiers to pause and think critically before making decisions, instead of just following orders. Even “discipline” is being re-imagined, for as my friend Lieutenant Colonel JC Glick said, “Discipline is not about being on time. Discipline is about doing the right thing at the right time.” The world has become so relationally interdependent and complex that we are forced to hit the “pause button,” to re-imagine and re-steer the direction in which our revered institutions – capitalism, the NFL, our military – are moving.

 

How do we begin to pause? Aristotle said that excellence is not a single act but a habit. The best way to pause, then, is to begin to form habits of pausing at a young age, which is why we are working with universities to introduce the “HOW” philosophy. The NROTC program at Miami University of Ohio is creatively adopting the HOW philosophy to train emerging Navy and Marine leaders in approaching ethical dilemmas. Elsewhere in the academy, Israeli students at Tel-Aviv Yaffo College are partnering with companies to conduct culture assessments, North Dakota State University students are running HOW workshops with representatives from academic departments, and Baruch College, a senior college of the City University of New York system, has partnered with us and declared 2014 the Year of the HOW. We are planting seeds in the next wave of leaders by enabling them to pause from the hustle-and-bustle of testing and build moral character—it is hard to think of a more meaningful endeavor.
 
 
Thank you for allowing me to share with you what has been on my mind in the past few months. I welcome any comments, questions or feedback, and I would love to hear from you as to where you are in your journey as well.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dov Seidman

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK – President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton announced the program and participants for the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, to be held September 21-24 in New York City, where more than 1,000 of the most influential leaders from business, government, civil society and philanthropy will convene around the theme of “Reimagining Impact.”

President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, to bring leaders together from all sectors of society to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges by turning their ideas into action.

Participants turn their ideas into action through the creation of “Commitments to Action” – new, specific, measurable plans to address these challenges. Since the first CGI Annual Meeting in September 2005, more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs and major philanthropists have participated in CGI’s Annual Meetings, and members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

For the first time, CGI has evaluated and will share comprehensive data collected from the commitments made over the past 10 years to highlight the most effective approaches and analyze trends in an effort to help CGI members maximize the impact of their work and identify critical gaps to be addressed.

Featured participants in the meeting include President Barack ObamaHis Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group; Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Reem Al-Hashimy, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates;  Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Amy Bell, Head of Principle Investments, JP Morgan Social Finance; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.orgAdam Davidson, Co-founder, NPR’s Planet Money; Denis O’Brien, Chairman, Digicel; Paul Farmer, Co-founder, Partners in Health, Chief Strategist, Harvard Medical School; Melinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex; Jay Gould, President and CEO, American Standard Brands; María José González, Executive Director, Mesoamerican Reef Fund; Alexander Grashow, Founder, The Adaptist; António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Former Prime Minister of Portugal; David Hertz, Founder & CEO, Gastromotiva; Jane Karuku, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Nicholas Kristof, columnist, The New York Times; Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer, Clinton Climate Initiative; Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Christopher Mikkelsen, Founder and Co-CEO, Refugees United; Jay Naidoo, Chair of Board of Directors and Partnership Council, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Tammy Newmark, President and CEO, EcoEnterprises Fund; Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive Officer, Big Society Capital; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Norma Powell, Director General, Haiti Center for Facilitation of Investments; Becky Quick, Co-anchor, Squawk Box, CNBC; Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Former President of Ireland; Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM; Charlie Rose, Host, “Charlie Rose Show”; Nilofar Sakhi, Executive Director, American University of Afghanistan; Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars, Incorporated, Senior Fellow, Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, Distinguished Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi; Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director, 1,000 Days; Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark; Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President, Global Education Content, Sesame Workshop; Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; Gary White, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Water.org; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives.

Key parts of the program at the 2014 CGI Annual Meeting include sessions such as:

  • Reimagining Impact, which will highlight the ideas and actions of CGI members over the last decade, explore how members measure and assess the outcomes of their commitments, and bring forth new ideas for CGI members to achieve greater impact going forward;
  • Confronting Climate Change is Good Economics, will explore opportunities to assist in the financing of conservation efforts, help unlock the capital required to accelerate investments towards a low-carbon economy, and reinforce the critical role of women in adapting to climate change;
  • Valuing What Matters, in which leaders can identify social and environmental indicators and measurement systems that can be implemented in public, private, and non-profit sectors, simultaneously assessing how best to capture non-quantifiable outcomes and use big data for social good;
  • Putting Education to Work, in which participants can collaborate across sectors to create education to employment pathways for young people and adults;
  • Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 instead of 2134?, which will examine the progress made since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and explore opportunities to accelerate the social and economic participation of women, who at current rates of progress won’t comprise half of the world’s leaders until 2134; and
  • The 8th annual Clinton Global Citizen AwardsTM, which will kick off the meeting with a ceremony to honor individuals in civil society, philanthropy, public service and the private sector whose efforts to create positive social change transcend borders, change lives, and set an example for others.

About the Clinton Global Initiative:
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

CGI recently announced its first global challenge to engage individuals around the world in tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The challenge launched in partnership with and is hosted on OpenIDEO.com, an open innovation platform created by global design firm IDEO, which couples design thinking methodology with the scale of online social networks to solve the world’s most pressing social issues. One featured idea will be recognized at CGI’s 10th Annual Meeting in September. Individuals can participate in the challenge by contributing ideas, research and solutions at www.openideo.com/cgi.

To recoup:

President Barack ObamaHis Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.orgMelinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President & CEO, IBM; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives among featured participants —— will be there.

Please visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/2014 regularly for the latest program details and confirmed participants. Follow CGI on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for meeting news and highlights, and use the official meeting hashtag #CGI2014.
Media registration will formally open August 18 and press planning to cover must be credentialed by the Clinton Global Initiative. Please send questions regarding media registration to press@clintonglobalinitiative.org.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:  Kristina Susac  executive at berkeley.edu via hubspot.com

UC Berkeley Executive Education

UC Berkeley Executive Education

Introducing: Insider Entrepreneurship

February 16-18, 2015 | Berkeley, California

Every organization, no matter its competitive position, must innovate to grow. But successful innovation goes beyond just idea generation. New initiatives must directly translate into value — for customers, investors and even your own employees. The challenge is doing that within the confines of large institutions where it can be difficult to navigate longstanding paradigms, financial hurdles or talent gaps.

At Insider Entrepreneurship you will develop a road map for launching new, profitable ventures within your firm. Participants will leave with their own opportunity assessment toolkit and a personal Venture Delivery Roadmap to begin launching a new project immediately. Led by three Berkeley faculty and practitioners in the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and corporate venturing, Professors John Danner, Mark Coopersmith and Whitney Hischier have decades of experience designing new ventures both outside and within the firm.

Learn more about the program, register for this fall’s program online, or contact us for more information about special offers for small groups or teams.

Other Updates:

Follow us on LinkedInWe are very excited to announce the launch of our LinkedIn Company Page. Follow our Company Page for access to special offers, program updates, and faculty publications. We look forward to connecting with you!
Back End of InnovationRecommended Event: Back End of Innovation | Las Vegas, NV | Oct 6-8, 2014
Register using the exclusive UC Berkeley discount code: BEI14BERKELEY to get 25% off the standard rate. We look forward to seeing you there!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.

JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”

Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.

Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.

“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”

That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.

All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”

More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.

By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.

Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.

The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.

President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

 

Message to the Congregation: Israel

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

July 16, 2014

Dear Congregants:

 

I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.

 

As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.

 

I would like to emphasize the following basic values:

 

 

  1. Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
  1. Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
  1. We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
  1. The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.

Action

 

Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.

 

Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.  

 

Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.

 

Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.

 

If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.

 

With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

 

Ammi's signature

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

New York City

===========—————————————————————————===========

Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes  responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives  by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.

In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.

According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.

Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.)  But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.

As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.

Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.

Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).

 

———————————===================—————————————

 

Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for ‘Immediate’ Suspension of UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness.

July 16, 2014 4:10 pm 12 comments

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.

The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.

Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.

In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”

In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.

“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”

Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”

Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”

“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.

“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Last night, June 23, 2014, former Austrian Ambassador to Finland, Canada, Jamaica,  and at the Council of Europe, Wendelin Ettmayer, presented his views at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City in answer to the double question: “World War I: Why did European Diplomacy Fail – Could it Happen Today?”

In effect – his topic is “Is it Still Possible to Win Wars?” as he presented it in Vienna at an ACUNS (Academic Council of the United Nations System).

The basic idea is that at the time of WWI Europe had not emerged yet from feud.alism while starting to develop Nationalism. Heads of State could still take vacation while in one day 80,000 of their soldiers were killed. On the other hand wars were something viewed as a concept of honor -so that day was seen as a day of glory.

The Ambassdaor’s thesis is that today it could not happen in Europe anymore – but outside Europe yes. Simply some of the emerging countries have not learned from the experience of WWI and are in effect still in that feudal age where the leader has complete power – or at least that is what he thinks. In these conditions diplomacy is viewed as Klausewitz described it when he said that war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means. In this situation he sees China’s interest in Islands of fthe Pacific a question of honor – something a member of the audience tried to correct by just saying – OIL!

From notes of the Vienna meeting – Ambassador Ettmayer does in effect see the change that occured since the preparations that led to WWI:

 

New Dimensions of Security and Power: The Essence of Security and Power has Changed Dramatically in Recent Decades

Traditional security was to 90% military security. Compared to the great challanges of human security in today´s world, military security covers only 10%. The same can be said as far as power is concerned:

traditionally, 90% of power exerted on an international level was military power. Today, the power of the brave, the new players and new dynamic forces make up 90% of the power. In this sense, 90% of the changes which took place in former times were caused by war, which is responsable of 10% of the new development in today ´s world, when we think of globalisation, the rise of China, the implosion of the Soviet Union or the unification of Germany.

In former times, wars were decided to 90% on the battlefield, today to 10%, what makes it practically impossible to win wars anymore. On the other hand, people today are affected to 90% by the international development, what was not the case in former centuries.

1. New Dimensions of Security

Traditionally foreign policy was orientated towards the security of the state, based on a strong army. Today, foreign policy is, to a very large extent, also oriented towards human security, towards the security of the individual citizen. In the 21th century, threats to international security are to 90% non-military threats.  An essential goal of foreign policy has become to guarantee the basic necessities of human life. Many international orgainziations, countless NGOs and governments are actively promoting human security. They fight against hunger and disease and are in favor of development, human rights and a decent standard of living. Where the basic requirements for human security are not met, from Ukraine to Venezuela and from the Central African Republic to Thailand, peace and security are in danger.

The United Nations and many of their agencies like UNCTAD, UNICEF, UNESCO, to name only a few, want to create security through cooperation. To safeguard human security and to promote human rights has become a basic legitimacy of foreign policy.

In former times, international relations were mostly about one single

issue: military security, power and war. Today countless issues are an essential part of international conferences and international activities. Today there are many dimensions to international security:

there is an economic and financial dimension; there is the important role of energy and the environment; there are human rights and education. Most importantly, those new dimensions of human security do not anymore rely on the strength of the military.

2. New Dimensions of Power

In former times, the essence of power was based on the grace of God or on military power. Today, power should be based on a democratic legitimacy. In practice, the legitimacy of a government is linked to its possibility to increase the wellbeing of the people. For many people it has become more important to increase their standard of living than to increase the military power of their country in order to dominate others.

To demonstrate what fundamental changes have taken place, consider the word “great” we use for powerful personalities in history. Alexander the Great as well as Peter the Great or Catherine the Great are considered “great”, because they succeeded to increase their power of their country, conquering and destroying others. Any ruler who would act in similar ways today would not be considered as “Great”; the international community would demand that they would be brought before the International Criminal Court.

In former times, a ruler was powerful if he succeeded to enforce his will upon his subjects. Today an elected official can exert power if he can attract and convince others. In former times, conquering a country was a legitimate act. Anyone who wants to conquer foreign territory today faces international sanctions, like Saddam Hussein, after he invaded Kuwait in 1990.

In former times a state had a power-monopoly. This monopoly has been broken by countless new institutions like the media, NGOs or international corporations. Those new institutions can not only exert power, but also oppose the power of the state.

What are the driving forces behind great changes which take place in the world today? Through centuries wars were the driving force for changing the international landscape. If we analyze today why the Soviet Union imploded, why apartheid was abolished in South Africa or why minorities succeeded to emancipate themselves, we can see that those changes were not brought about by wars, but by the power of the brave, by new technologies or by new ideas.

The Polish trade Union movement, Solidarnosc and Nelson Mandela represent the power of the brave. The anti baby-pill, the mobile phones, the internet and computers stand for the power of new technologies. The power of new ideas was demonstrated by the 1968 movement and the influence of human rights.

His answer comes to his asking – “How Could All That Happen?”

Those dramatic changes in international relations took place on the basis of a revolution in education; a democratic revolution and a revolution in information. People have become more critical. They see the great sacrifices, suffered by wars and that goals proclaimed on the occasion of outbreaks of wars are hardly achieved. On the other hand people have developed a sense of entitlement. They prefer a higher standard to a conquering army.

With the mobile phone, the computer and the internet a revolution in information has taken place. Social media give everybody the opportunity to share his or her opinion to participate in decision making. Naturally it is easier to be critical than to be constructive in this context.
——————————————————————

The New York City presentation was organized by Austrian Council General H.E. Ambassador Georg Heindl who does this sort of events as New York City, with a large Austrian population that evolved because of the presence of immigrants that escaped Nazism can provide for lively discussions of this sort of intellectual topics. Last night just proved the point with a lively follow up Q&A period.

There was no cosensus on many issues. Questions asked why NATO, why Turkey and not Russia which had an aristocracy formed after Western Europe and were even family. Actually, the Europeans have no alternative to peaceful internal coexistence between its member states if facing billion people mega-States.

While still thinking about last night, I found the following article in incoming e-mail and decided to post both points of view.

IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT A TRUE STRONG STRUCTURE OF A EUROPEAN MEGA-STATE MUST FIND A POSITIVE WAY THAT HAS A NATURAL BASE. IT SEEMS ONCE MORE THAT HUMAN RIGHTS aND DEMOCRACY MUST BE THE BASR ON WHICH SUSTAINABILITY EXISTS.

 

———————–

For a European Republic

Ulrike Guerot and Andres Ortega 24 June 2014

Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.

Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region. Demotix/Javi Julio. All rights reserved.

The European Union, and more particularly the Eurozone, does not know what it is. This is not only a matter of nominalism, but also of the meaning of the project.

To still consider this Europe as a “Federation of Nation States”, as Jacques Delors put it many years back, is clearly insufficient as a description and as a desideratum. Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.

To consider a European republic means to make democracy a priority, especially in these times in which we are emptying out national democracy without replacing it with a European democracy.

European citizens feel they can choose among politicians, but much less so among policies. Or that, to make a real difference, they would need to choose among European policies.

But that is not possible, as the electoral system, as we have seen in the last elections to the European Parliament, is a sum of national elections, even in some ways of nationalistic elections, and nationalism can destroy Europe and its peoples.

That Europe has no demos (people), but rather a collection of demoi (peoples) is not the central problem. A demos is not something given, but constructed as a result of historical processes and also of policies, of purpose. The problem is to see Europe as an entity formed exclusively by states­­–not even nation states but member states–and not by citizens, in spite of the Treaties that say that it is both at the same time.

The problem of not being able to choose European policies is that the real choice is between populisms and technocracy. And that is something that alienates people and ultimately reinforces populisms (of various kinds).

The way out of that bogus choice, again was very present in the recent European  elections, is by going for transnational European choices that could form the basis of a European republic. Citizens in Europe are not organized in a transnational setting. They have no real voice through their representatives. The idea of a European republic should push the emergence of a political ‘we’, based on social bodies.  A more transnational and republican organization would also mean getting away from the vertical structures of the EU towards a horizontal one that would allow coalitions building among European citizens.

It also means that there is a need for a redistribution of powers among the EU institutions. The European Parliament has gained new powers with every new treaty, all except the one which from a democratic point of view it should have: the right of initiative that remains a monopoly at the behest of the European Commission (and in some instances, of the member states).

Joachim Glauck, the president of Germany, has made use of the term ‘European Republic’ in some of his speeches. This idea of a ‘Republic’ is connected with the meaning it possessed in the European Middle Ages as it appeared in the first modern writings of thinkers like Bodino: that is, a legal concept of the cross-national exercise of sovereign powers. It was conceived as a way of sharing a democracy in common among citizens, but citizens with different national democratic systems and different ways of doing things. Some are parliamentary monarchies, others more purely parliamentarian, others presidential or semi presidential systems, and so forth.

It also means aiming for a European common good. And that idea of the common good shared by every European citizen would also be a way of overcoming the worrying divisions that have arisen of late in Europe between north and south, creditors and debtors, centre and periphery and even between the ins and outs (of the Eurozone), although the major aim which the republic needs to steer towards has to be the construction of the economic and monetary union, open to all EU member states of course.

The republic has to be based not so much on equality as on solidarity, even solidarity in the plural—solidarities–, as a concept and a set of realities no longer directly linked to sovereignty and national borders.

It has also to be a solidarity between generations, and especially towards the young who have felt abandoned in the latest phases of construction of the EU and the Eurozone, an abandonment that has led to more people aged 18-25 voting above average for populist options in most of the countries of the Union.

In the end, to opt for the European republic idea means to organize European civil society and to give it a voice in the European system. Not to do this will lead citizens to exit the system, as Albert O. Hirschman would have put it.

In this context, the Spanish debate should be more than about a monarchy-republic. It should be about the European dimension of the res publica.

——————————————–

This article was originally published in El Pais on 24/6/14.

About the authors
Andrés Ortega is presently senior fellow at the Elcano Institute in Spain and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He has been twice (1994-96 and 2008-2011) director of Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office. His latest book is Recomponer la democracia (2014).

Ulrike Guérot is Senior Associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). She previously worked as head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), head of the European Union unit at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and as senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund (GMF). She blogs for the ECFR here.

—————————————-

Related Articles
Europe’s unfinished democracy
Robert Menasse  – an Austrian -  From the idea of Europe to a Europe of ideas
Anya Topolski

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 
 peoplesclimate.org/march/

This is an invitation to change everything.

Big Organizing MeetingPeople’s Climate March
Tuesday, July 1st  @6 – 8:30pm

The New School – Old Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th St., between 5th and 6th Ave. in Manhattan

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.
Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

 

Sign up now  – or read Bill McKibben’s invitation in Rolling Stone here, or Eddie Bautista’s piece in Earth Island Journal.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Energy & Environment

Buying Into Solar Power, No Roof Access Needed.

By

Photo

A Clean Energy Collective solar panel array in Denver. Such arrangements are drawing renters and apartment owners who prefer clean energy.
Credit Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Like many consumers, David Polstein had already done much to reduce energy use in his large Victorian home in Newton, Mass. He replaced his appliances with energy-efficient models, installed better heating and put in new insulation. But he was unable to get a solar system to reduce his utility bill, he said, because his roof is too small and shady to make it worthwhile.

Now, that could be changing. Mr. Polstein is considering joining a so-called community solar garden that is under development in his part of the state, one of many similar new arrangements now available in Massachusetts. Through the approach — largely pioneered in Colorado and spreading across the country — customers buy into a solar array constructed elsewhere and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power their panels produce.

For developers, such shared or community solar arrays create a new market from the estimated 85 percent of residential customers who can neither own nor lease systems because their roofs are physically unsuitable for solar or because they do not control them — like renters and people living in large apartment buildings. And for those customers, it offers a way into the solar boom, whether they seek to contribute to the spread of clean energy or to reap the potential cost savings.

“I pretty much realize that if I’m going to do this sort of thing,” Mr. Polstein, a violin maker, said, “this is the only way I’m going to be able to do it.”

Massachusetts passed its law enabling community renewable energy projects in 2008 and saw at least one town solar garden begin operating in Brewster in 2012. Now, Clean Energy Collective, a leading developer, is building systems that are due to start producing power in Massachusetts by the end of this month. The company has teamed with Next Step Living of Boston, a home energy-efficiency company, which is selling the product to consumers across Massachusetts.

Several other places, including California, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., have laws to establish their programs, while others have proposals at some stage of drafting. In New York, for instance, a bill is working its way through the State Legislature.

“There’s no ability to really put solar on your roof when you live in an apartment — you just don’t own the roof,” said Amy Paulin, an assemblywoman representing Westchester.

Ms. Paulin, who is chairwoman of the Energy Committee, co-sponsored the bill after learning of the concept from advocates including Vote Solar, a group that promotes solar energy. Encouraging the development of modest solar installations throughout the state would also put less stress on the transmission and distribution grid, she said.

The shared approach has its roots in rural electric cooperatives, said Elaine Ulrich of the Department of Energy’s SunShot program, but has only begun to take off in recent years, and still accounts for a tiny fraction of solar production. There are at least 52 projects in at least 17 states, and at least 10 states are encouraging their development through policy and programs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main trade group.

It is among the profusion of financing mechanisms meant to encourage the development of solar energy, from residential leasing programs to crowdfunding.

The combination of plummeting prices for solar equipment and installation and generous federal and state incentives has widened their appeal. The Energy Department is encouraging their spread, publishing a guide to best practices in 2010, and is weighing proposals to award $15 million in grants to help design community projects.

In general, a developer builds a solar farm that can range from a few dozen panels on a rooftop to thousands sitting on more than 100 acres, and sells the electrical output of a set number of panels to each customer, depending on how much of their power use they want or can afford to offset. Customers then receive a credit for that power, often at a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour, that is then deducted from the energy portion of their electric bills.

Costs typically run $500 to $1,400 for a panel, said Paul Spencer, president of Clean Energy Collective, adding that customers benefit from the fact that the arrays can be situated in optimal locations to maximize energy production. But those costs can run higher in some markets, and customers must generally live within certain geographic or utility service boundaries.

The details vary from state to state, and can be complicated by how utilities charge customers. In Colorado, for instance, Xcel Energy customers continue to pay the standard nonenergy fees, but can buy enough solar shares to offset 120 percent of their load.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of zero bills,” said Brendan Miller, a civil engineer who said he paid about $10,000 for 11 panels to cover most of his electricity needs in his Denver condominium.

Interested in solar energy since high school, Mr. Miller had purchased a system for his previous home in Arizona and said the community solar arrangement was much simpler because he did not have to navigate the tax credits or installation himself.

“It was more of a financial transaction than a contractor-construction transaction,” he said.

In New York, the proposed system would allow customers to offset no more than 100 percent of their electric use and would limit their initial ownership period to five years for residential consumers and 10 years for businesses, with an option for renewal.

For customers, the systems offer flexibility, proponents say, because their interest in the panels is transferable so they can take the output with them if they move or turn it over to someone else. The community solar garden differs from another common way consumers can remotely buy green energy — energy service companies — because people like Mr. Miller buy into the array itself.

Still, they can carry high upfront costs depending on the size. For Mr. Polstein’s roughly 3,000-square-foot house in Newton, for instance, it would cost about $41,000 — after anticipated rebates and incentives — to buy 32 panels in the coming Massachusetts array. He likes the idea of contributing to the growth of solar, but worries that he may end up, as an early adopter, paying more than he should.

“It may not be the smartest investment if you’re only doing it from the point of view of money,” he said. “But if you factor in the idea that you’re trying to make a change in how the energy you use is produced and the effect it has on the world, then you can sort of rationalize it a little better even if five years from now you could do the same thing and it would cost a little less.”

A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2014, on page B1 of the New York edition.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is our first posting on food – we picked it because rhubarb is hardly known – but it can grow easily – even in city backyards – and is somewhat a dangerous plant because its leaves are poisonous. CUT OFF ANY GREEN PARTS – EAT ONLY THE BOILED PINK STALKS – and you make delicious food.

www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/dining/rhubarb-flaunts-its-savory-side.html?emc=edit_th_20140614&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=47157637&_r=0

 

Dining & Wine

Rhubarb Flaunts Its Savory Side.

Friday, JUNE 13, 2014

Photo

Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Photo

Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Are you ready for the rhubarb revolution?

I, for one, am eager to stand up with other rhubarb lovers who are tired of the suppression of the vegetable’s true, pucker-inducing nature. (Yes, it is a vegetable, not a fruit.) Rhubarb does not have to be sugared into submission to be delicious. “Sour power” is our battle cry.

My own rebellion came after years of following the sweetness status quo and baking the stalks into an array of pies, crumbles and cakes. As good as these classics are, they are not the only way to use the stridently tart stalks.

In fact, when rhubarb is used in savory dishes, its fruity tang becomes an asset much like citrus or pomegranate, without any annoying seeds. Rhubarb works especially well when paired with fatty meat. It slashes through the richness like lemon juice or vinegar, but has the added benefit of falling apart and thickening the sauce.

A piquant rhubarb butter sauce, softened with a drizzle of honey to smooth out the edges, is also a great partner for milky cheeses, eggs and certain vegetables. Once, while exploring the adage of “what grows together goes together,” I paired that rhubarb butter sauce with its seasonal sister, asparagus. It was a hit: bracing, earthy and a change from the usual hollandaise.

In this recipe, I combine rhubarb with chicken. I first stew the stalks with onions, garlic and a little white wine, then use the mix as a bed for braising the bird. The fat rendered by the chicken skin enriches the sauce, while the meat absorbs all the tangy flavors. I use a whole cutup chicken here, but feel free to use an equal weight of your favorite parts instead. Thighs and drumsticks work particularly well.

The only disadvantage to a savory rhubarb sauce is that as it cooks down, it loses its pinkness, turning drab beige. You need plenty of green garnishes on hand to perk it up. Herb sprigs work nicely, as do the tops from the spring onions (or scallions) used in the sauce. Red scallions are pretty here if you run across them.

You end up with a nuanced, spectacularly savory dish that just may revolutionize the way your dinner guests think about rhubarb.

Recipe: Skillet Chicken With Rhubarb

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Democrats See Winning Issue in Carbon Plan

By CARL HULSE and MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Several Democrats in competitive Senate races have supported an E.P.A. proposal to curb power-plant emissions, citing growing public support for action and perceptions that Republicans are anti-science.


Of Fish, Monsoons and the Future

By CHRIS BERDIK

Scientists are digitally tracking the links between human activity and the fragile ecosystem of Cambodia’s great lake.

And Even More on Climate Change

By JOSHUA A. KRISCH

A roundup of New York Times series, video, blogs and forum related to global warming.


For Western Oil Companies, Expanding in Russia Is a Dance Around Sanctions

By ANDREW E. KRAMER and STANLEY REED

BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and other big Western oil companies are striking deals and plowing money into Russia even as more sanctions loom.


Battle Over Fracking Poses Threat to Colorado Democrats

By JACK HEALY

An array of ballot proposals would ask Colorado voters to sharply limit energy development, but the Democratic governor and other party leaders are seeking an alternative.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SundayReview | by Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times – Thomas Friedman.

 

Obama on Obama on Climate

 

 

 

WHEN it comes to dealing with the world’s climate and energy challenges -

I have a simple rule: change America, change the world.

If America raises its clean energy standards, not only will others follow — others who have hid behind our inaction — we’ll also stimulate our industry to invent more of the clean air, clean power and energy efficiency systems, and move them down the cost curve faster, so U.S. companies will be leaders in this next great global industry and American consumers will be the first to benefit. That is why the new Environmental Protection Agency rules President Obama proposed last week to curb carbon emissions from power plants are so pivotal. You can’t make power systems greener without making them smarter — smarter materials, software or design. One new ruling will not change the world — and we have to be careful that this one doesn’t replace our addiction to coal with an addiction to natural gas alone. But coming at a time when clean energy technologies are becoming more competitive, and when awareness of climate change is becoming more pervasive, this E.P.A. ruling should give a real boost to clean power and efficiency innovation and make our country more resilient, healthy, secure — and respected.

Photo

Climate change “is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges” the nation faces, said Mr. Obama.    Credit Video Still Frame Image from, Years of Living Dangerously – Showtime

 

Several weeks ago, as he was drawing up these new emission rules, I interviewed President Obama in the White House library about climate and energy. Following are highlights. (The interview is also featured in the final episode of Showtime’s climate series, “Years of Living Dangerouslyairing on Monday - that is tomorrow.)

For starters, Obama is aware that we can’t just keep burning oil, coal and gas until they run out. As the International Energy Agency warned, “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050” — unless carbon capture and storage technology is widely deployed — otherwise we’ll bust through the limit of a 2 degree Celsius rise in average temperature that climate scientists believe will unleash truly disruptive ice melt, sea level rise and weather extremes. The rest has to stay in the ground, and we need to steadily find cleaner alternatives and more energy efficiency.
I asked Obama if he agreed with that analysis.

“Science is science,” he said. “And there is no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire.”

So we can’t burn it all?

“We’re not going to be able to burn it all. Over the course of the next several decades, we’re going to have to build a ramp from how we currently use energy to where we need to use energy. And we’re not going to suddenly turn off a switch and suddenly we’re no longer using fossil fuels, but we have to use this time wisely, so that you have a tapering off of fossil fuels replaced by clean energy sources that are not releasing carbon. … But I very much believe in keeping that 2 [degree] Celsius target as a goal.”

If that is so, your environmental supporters wonder why you keep touting how much we’re still exploring for oil, coal and natural gas?

“We have got to meet folks where they are,” said Obama. “We’ve gone through, obviously, in the last five years, a tough economic crisis. … I don’t always lead with the climate change issue because if you right now are worried about whether you’ve got a job or if you can pay the bills, the first thing you want to hear is how do I meet the immediate problem? One of the hardest things in politics is getting a democracy to deal with something now where the payoff is long term or the price of inaction is decades away. What we’ve tried to do is continually find ways in which we can make progress, recognizing that we’re not immediately going to get people to abandon the old gas-guzzler” [because] “they can’t afford an electric car.”

Every morning you get a security briefing from the intelligence community on global threats; do you now also get the same on environmental threats?

“I do,” said Obama. Science adviser “John Holdren typically makes presentations when there are new findings,” and his reports show that environmental stresses are now impacting both foreign and domestic policy. For instance, wildfires are now “consuming a larger and larger portion of the Department of Interior budget. And if we continue to fund fighting fires the same way we’ve done in the past, all the money for everything else — for conservation, for maintenance of forests — all that money gets used up.”

But the area he’s just as worried about, said Obama, “is how climate change could end up having profound national security implications in poorer countries.

We’re obviously concerned about drought in California or hurricanes and floods along our coastlines and the possibility of more powerful storms or more severe droughts. All of those things are bread-and-butter issues that touch on American families. But when you start seeing how these shifts can displace people — entire countries can be finding themselves unable to feed themselves and the potential incidence of conflict that arises out of that — that gets your attention.

There’s a reason why the quadrennial defense review — [which] the secretary of defense and the Joints Chiefs of Staff work on — identified climate change as one of our most significant national security problems. It’s not just the actual disasters that might arise, it is the accumulating stresses that are placed on a lot of different countries and the possibility of war, conflict, refugees, displacement that arise from a changing climate.”

Syria couldn’t manage a four-year drought when it had a government, and that drought helped fuel the uprising there, because the government did nothing for the people. Imagine what will happen if they have another prolonged drought and they’ve destroyed half their country?

“Which gives you a sense of what happens in a lot of these countries that are just barely hanging on,” said Obama. “They don’t have a lot of margin for error, and that has national security implications. When people are hungry, when people are displaced, when there are a lot of young people, particularly young men, who are drifting without prospects for the future, the fertility of the soil for terrorism ends up being significant. And it can have an impact on us.”

What is the one thing you would still like to see us do to address climate change? Said Obama: put a price on carbon.

The way we’ve solved previous problems, like acid rain, he noted, “was that we said: ‘We’re going to charge you if you’re releasing this stuff into the atmosphere, but we’re going to let you figure out — with the marketplace and with the technology’ ” how best to mitigate it. But “you can’t keep dumping it out in the atmosphere and making everybody else pay for it. So if there’s one thing I would like to see, it’d be for us to be able to price the cost of carbon emissions. … We’ve obviously seen resistance from the Republican side of the aisle on that.  And out of fairness, there’s some Democrats who’ve been concerned about it as well, because regionally they’re very reliant on heavy industry and old-power plants. … I still believe, though, that the more we can show the price of inaction — that billions and potentially trillions of dollars are going to be lost because we do not do something about it — ultimately leads us to be able to say, ‘Let’s go ahead and help the marketplace discourage this kind of activity.’ ”

Where does natural gas fit in?

After all, it can be a blessing and a curse. Natural gas emits only half the carbon dioxide of coal when burned, but if methane leaks when oil companies extract it from the ground in a sloppy manner — methane is far more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — it can wipe out all the advantages of natural gas over coal.

Natural gas, the president said, “is a useful bridge” to span “where we are right now and where we hope to be — where we’ve got entirely clean energy economies based around the world.” Environmentalists, he added, “are right, though, to be concerned if it’s done badly, then you end up having methane gas emitted. And we know how to do it properly. But right now what we’ve got to do is make sure that there are industry standards that everybody is observing.” That doesn’t “necessarily mean that it has to be a national law,” he said. “You could have a series of states working together — and, hopefully, industry working together — to make sure that the extraction of natural gas is done safely.”

Do you ever want to just go off on the climate deniers in Congress?

“Yeah, absolutely,” the president said with a laugh. “Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us. … We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on.

The science is compelling. … The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces. The good news is that the public may get out ahead of some of their politicians” ——  as people start to see the cost of cleaning up for hurricanes like Sandy or the drought in California —— and when “those start multiplying, then people start thinking, ‘You know what? We’re going to reward politicians who talk to us honestly and seriously about this problem.’

 

The president added: “The person who I consider to be the greatest president of all time, Abraham Lincoln, was pretty consistent in saying, ‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done,’ and so part of my job over these next two and a half years and beyond is trying to shift public opinion. And the way to shift public opinion is to really focus in on the fact that if we do nothing our kids are going to be worse off.”

The trick, I argued, is to find that fine line between making people feel the problem is urgent, but not insoluble so they just say: If the end is nigh, let’s party.

“The most important thing is to guard against cynicism,” responded the president. “I want to make sure that everybody who’s been watching this program or listening to this interview doesn’t start concluding that, well, we’re all doomed, there’s nothing we can do about it. There’s a lot we can do about it. It’s not going to happen as fast or as smoothly or as elegantly as we like, but, if we are persistent, we will make progress.”

————————————–

Some Comments:

Occupy Government – Abraham Lincoln didn’t know climate change, but if he had, he would have done a might more than recent successors and their legislatures. …

Dave Scott

As president of the Sierra Club board, I applaud President Obama for EPA’s proposed power plant pollution rules, a significant step towards…

RevWayne

The President has presented powerful reasons for us to respond to global change. The consequences for America cannot be ignored. …

—————————————–

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

logo

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Buying Insurance Against Climate Change.

 

 

Photo

The Alliance of Small Island States has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with losses from climate change. Here, Tarawa in Kiribati, an alliance member battling rising sea levels.       Credit Kadir Van Lohuizen/NOOR

 

 

He writes here:

 

The third National Climate Assessment report — released on May 6 by the White House, and representing the work of more than 240 scientists — warns us about our hazardous future and offers many good ideas for dealing with it. But a most important point may be lost in the crowd.

After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against losses due to climate change.” That sentence should have been in big, bold letters and underlined.

BUT WE VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE WITH ABOVE – AND THAT IS WHY WE POST THIS MATERIAL.
{PJ – editor of SustainabiliTank}   
TO PUT IT IN SIMPLE TERMS – THE DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR WANTS THE PUBLIC AT LARGE – THROUGH THE TAXATION  SYSTEM AS WE KNOW IT – TO INSURE THE BUSINESS PEOPLE SO THEY CAN CONTINUE WITH IMPUNITY WHAT THE KNOW BEST – THAT IS TO MAKE PROFITS FOR THEMSELVES AND PASS ALL COSTS TO THE OTHERS !!!  WE RATHER THINK TO ACHIEVE INSURANCE BY APPLYING CARBON TAXES IN ORDER TO REACH PREVENTIVE MEASURES AND A MUCH LESS RISKY REALITY.  BUT LET US HIM SPEAK FOR HIMSELF. WE WILL HAVE COMMENTS IN GREEN!

That’s because of the substantial risk that efforts to stop global warming will fail. The implications are staggering, and we must encourage private innovation and government support to insure against the devastating financial losses that will result.

The problem is an age-old one: Each country has a strong individual incentive to take a free ride on the rest of the world — to find self-serving or nationalistic justifications for adding carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the global air supply. Such behavior, which in some ways might benefit the individual country while hurting everyone else, is known in economics as an externality problem, and the world has never solved one of this magnitude. We must face facts: There is a real risk of new kinds of climate-related disaster.E BLAMED 

BUT THE PROFESSOR TALKS OF NATIONS – NATIONAL INTERESTS – IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD WHERE THE NATIONS WERE ACTUALLY REPLACED BY CORPORATIONS.    SO ALREADY FROM START HE JUST GOES IN AN UNACCEPTABLE DIRECTION. IT IS THE CORPORATE INTERESTS THAT SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE – NOT THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS!

In his latest book, “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty and Economics for a Warming World” (Yale University Press), my Yale colleague William D. Nordhaus describes the uncertainty of global warming’s specific effects around the world. We are taking major gambles with our environment, he says. Expect surprises.

In March, a United Nations report identified with “high confidence” a number of risks that will be visited on different people unequally. It spoke of the “risk of death, injury, ill health or disrupted livelihoods” in low-lying coastal zones and on small islands — and that is just the start. Food systems may break down. There may not be enough water for drinking and irrigation. Ecosystems may be shattered.

In short, we need to worry about the potential for greater-than-expected disasters, especially those that concentrate their fury on specific places or circumstances, many of which we cannot now predict.

That’s why global warming needs to be addressed by the private institutions of risk management, such as insurance and securitization. They have deep experience in smoothing out disasters’ effects by sharing them among large numbers of people. The people or entities that are hit hardest are helped by those less badly damaged.

A CONCLUSION THAT HAS NO RELATION TO THE CAUSE OF FUTURE DISASTERS – PLEASE DO NOT TRY BAMBOOZLE ON US DEAR PROFESSORS!!!

But these institutions need ways to deal with such grand-scale issues. Governments should recognize that by giving these businesses a profit incentive to prepare for these unevenly distributed disasters. After all, fire insurance does no good unless you buy it before the house burns down. And you have to diversify your portfolio before the stock market crashes.

Fortunately, we aren’t too late to take action to insure against some climate risks. And yet this has not been a major element in most of the climate debate.

We already have weather derivatives that can help, like the 50 contracts in 13 countries offered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A ski resort can already buy protection against inadequate snowfall and a city can buy protection against too much snowfall next winter by, in effect, taking the opposite side of the same futures contract (through the exchange), thereby pooling their opposite risks.

WHAT A CLEVER IDEA OF MAKING OTHERS PAY FOR THE SINS OF COAL AND OIL BURNERS?  IT IS REALLY ELEGANT!  WHY NOT FIRST GET THE SINNERS PAY – THEN FOR SMALL CORRECTONS THIS PROPOSED DELICACY COULD BE THE CROWN OF THE DEAL – NOT THE REPLACEMENT OF THE DEAL!

There are also catastrophe bonds, like the three-year, $1.5 billion Everglades Re Ltd. issue sponsored this month by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It would provide relief to the insurer of Floridians hit by a bad hurricane; in such an event, the bond holders would bear losses.

But there is a problem with instruments like these: They tend to focus on relatively short-term risks, and don’t hedge against the increasing cost of disasters over distant future years. Yet if the problems of global warming become more serious, they will very likely be long-lasting, raising some complex, tough-to-quantify issues. Some kinds of crises, like hurricanes, may remain intermittent, but their tendency toward severity may build in a slow, hard-to-predict process and in complex geographical patterns.

 

Psychologically, it’s hard for most of us to take the initiative on long-term, ill-defined risks. Three scholars — Howard C. Kunreuther and Mark V. Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania and Stacey McMorrow of the Urban Institute — show this in their book, “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” (Cambridge University Press). But they argue that if we’re aware of them, these psychological impediments can be reduced, and they urge the innovation of long-term risk management contracts that address the problem of climate change.

Some progress is being made: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is one recent example of institutional sharing of climate risks. Then there is the Alliance of Small Island States, formed in 1990 as a response to climate change. The group represents 5 percent of the world’s population, and its island members are scattered around the globe. But if sea levels rise substantially, all of them will be affected. These countries generally aren’t big enough to have a heartland that can help coastal dwellers in a climate catastrophe. The alliance has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with such loss and damage.

These are only beginnings. We have a crucial need to bring innovation to our risk-management institutions. We need to make them flexible, to clarify their long-term international legal status, to develop mechanisms and indexes that can be the basis of long-term risk management contracts and to educate the public about them. Most important, we need concrete action now to build a mechanism that will provide real help for the victims of climate-change disasters.

———————

 

ROBERT J. SHILLER is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale.

A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2014, on page BU6 of the New York edition with the headline: Buying Insurance Against Climate Change

——————–

————————-

Some  Comments:

 

Andy

I too, think this article misses the point. What is going to happen is that insurance companies will simply STOP insuring industries and…

 

Tom Stoltz

Change can be bad, but change can be good. Dr. Shiller (like most) focus on the down side of a warmer climate, “The people … that are hit…

 

June

 

The costs should be put on the corporate masters & their politician toadies who have been denying climate change for decades. Once…

———————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Organ Mountains

President Obama has just signed a proclamation designating almost 500,000 acres of the Potrillo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, Robledos Mountains and the surrounding desert in southern New Mexico as the nation’s newest monument — Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is the crown jewel of the Southern Rockies and is one of the most deserving iconic places in America to receive this designation. The monument is filled with majestic mountains, big horn sheep, pronghorn antelope, rare plant species, petroglyph-lined canyons, the Apollo Mission training sites and historical events in western history that include people like Billy the Kid and Geronimo.

Iconic monument designations don’t happen every day. It’s important the president knows that when he protects America’s special places we have his back.

In addition to protecting invaluable landscapes, wildlife and cultural areas — economic studies show this designation has the potential to add more than $7.4 million in additional annual economic activity — doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism industry in the region. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy.

This designation also represents years of hard work by local communities and lawmakers to protect this region and is the president’s first large, iconic, landscape-scale monument designation. More than 15,000 New Mexicans submitted public comments in support of a monument, adding their voices to those of business leaders, elected officials, recreation, conservation, Native American and Latino groups and leaders like U.S. Senators Udall and Heinrich and retired Senator Bingaman.

Monument designation is an important tool the president has to protect our wilderness heritage. And thanks to years of hard work by people like you this beautiful landscape will forever be protected and enjoyed by future generations.

Thanks to President Obama for designating Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as our nation’s newest monument.

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Changing the World – a small step at a time. This is credited to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York City.
 www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/b…

Reporting of the New York City based Carnegie Ciuncil.

——————————————–

Reducing Emissions Is a Sure Bet for Caesars Entertainment.

By Scott R. Miller | Environmental Defense Fund | May 21, 2014

 

CREDIT: tenaciousme (CC).

It was an especially gratifying moment to shut down the high-intensity discharge lights on the Flamingo facade and the Eiffel Tower Experience and turn on the LEDs.

 

My life changed forever on April 20, 2010 when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and poisoning the ecosystem. By the time the oil stopped flowing 87 agonizing days later I had discovered the motivation to unleash a deeply rooted passion for sustainability. It drove me to start a sustainability initiative at OppenheimerFunds, and subsequently to leave a successful career in financial services.

Passion alone is not enough, so in the fall of 2011 I began an M.S. in sustainability management at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Over the next three years I learned multiple ways to lessen society’s impact on the environment and to promote resilience.

An important opportunity for me came in the spring of 2013 when I was accepted into the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps fellowship program. The EDF Climate Corps matches graduate students with companies, municipalities, and universities across the country. Each fellow is trained for one week by energy efficiency experts and then sent on a 10-week fellowship to reduce cost, energy, and carbon emissions at a host organization. The program has been so successful that it caught the attention of the producers of Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series about climate change airing this spring on Showtime.

I was matched with Caesars Entertainment (CET) in Las Vegas, Nevada and subsequently selected by the Years Project to be one of three fellows whom they would follow throughout the summer. So, in early June I packed my bags, boxed my bike, and headed to the sweltering summer heat of Vegas to deliver maximum cost and CO2 savings.

Upon arriving, it became apparent that much of the low-hanging energy efficiency fruit had already been plucked, so my supervisor decided to challenge me with an outdoor wall lighting project at the Flamingo Las Vegas, and an energy audit of all pool, spa, and fountain pump systems at CET’s eight Las Vegas resorts. I also attempted an energy retrofit project for the Eiffel Tower Experience at the Paris Las Vegas.

Managing all three projects simultaneously while cameras were following me around was by far the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career.

It was an especially gratifying moment to shut down the existing High-intensity Discharge (HID) lights on the Flamingo facade and the Eiffel Tower Experience and turn on the Light-Emitting Diodes, which were expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 70 percent.

Scott Miller (left) consults with Jessica Alba (right), founder of The Honest Company. IMAGE: Courtesy of Showtime.

In addition to lighting, I had the unique opportunity to partner with the chief engineer of the Flamingo to conduct a CodeGreen audit at three in the morning. We surveyed countless square feet of resort space, identifying energy and water efficiency and conservation opportunities, all of which would help reduce operational costs, carbon emissions, and water consumption—the latter being especially relevant in the desert.

Lastly, I surveyed 125 pump systems, which circulate water through the iconic pools, spas, and fountains of the CET Las Vegas resorts. To reduce energy demand from their around-the-clock operations, I researched an energy efficiency solution known as a variable frequency drive (VFD). I built a life-cycle cost model and talked to VFD suppliers. Toward the end of my fellowship, I was tasked with presenting my findings and recommendations to Caesars CEO Gary Loveman and other key stakeholders, while Showtime cameras captured it all.

In the end, I determined that CET could reduce the average annual energy consumed by their pools, spas, and fountains by more than 60 percent. The financial payback was so attractive that we were able to install four VFDs in the Caesars Palace pool pump room prior to my departure. By implementing my project recommendations at all their U.S. properties, Caesars Entertainment could save more than $350,000 and approximately 6 million kilowatt hours annually, enough to power more than 500 homes and avoid 3,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The stories featured in Years of Living Dangerously include activist celebrities, renowned climate scientists, famous journalists, and inspirational business leaders who have made social and environmental responsibility a top priority for their firms. And, it turns out, ordinary people like me.

Taken together, I believe these stories have the potential to fuel a fundamental shift in how the public views climate change, and to inspire individuals, businesses, and maybe even politicians to make a big pivot toward a more sustainable future.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.

By Mel Chin | Creative Time | April 30, 2014

 www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/i…

View of Smara, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.

The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”

It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.

And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.

Mel Chin

Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project in St. Roch, New Orleans. CREDIT: Amanda Wiles, 2009.

At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.

That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.

When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.

Mel Chin

In the tent of Abderrahman and his family. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.

The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.

Mel Chin

The children’s school at the 27 February Camp. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.

As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.

And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.

Mel Chin Bank of the Sun Western SaharaFreedom is the concept propelling my action with the Sahrawi people. The sun on this poster for the Bank of the Sun is composed of the Arabic word for “freedom,” repeated 38 times—once for every year the Sahrawis have waited for the right to self-determination (as of last year). CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.

After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.

As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.

Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”

He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”

“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”

“A solar engineer.”

I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”

Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.

Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.

In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.

To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.

Mel Chin

The site and plans for the potential Bank of the Sun. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.

My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”

A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.

———————–

This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The following is being monitored by the Vienna and Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (often abbreviated SWC), with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, was established in 1977 and named for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. According to its mission statement, it is “an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time. The Center’s multifaceted mission generates changes through the Snider Social Action Institute and education by confronting antisemitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”[1]

The Center is accredited as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, the UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.

 

Jews Implicated by Pro-Erdo?an Turkish Newspaper for Coal Mine Disaster.

May 21, 2014  in The Algemeiner,  17 comments

Front page of Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit implicating Jews in the Soma mining disaster. Photo: Screenshot.

Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit sought to implicate Jews in the country’s recent Soma coal mine disaster that left over 300 dead, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

The paper blasted its distaste for Jews with a headline that criticized the mine’s owner for having a Jewish son-in-law and ”Zionist-dominated media” for distorting the story.

Hurriyet said Yeni Akit ”has a long track record of anti-Semitic slurs” and noted the front page wording used to describe Alp Gürkan, the mine’s owner, for “giving his daughter to a Jew,” which it implied to be the main reason why the “Zionist-dominated domestic and foreign media” was “attacking Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an,” to “distort” the truth behind the disaster.

“While the cartel media in cooperation with Jews, Jew-lover parallel media and Jew controlled western media targets the Prime Minister over the Soma disaster, it is revealed that the groom of Alp Gürkan, owner of the company responsible for the disaster, is a Jew named ‘Mario Asafrana’ who changed his name and is now called ‘Mahir’,” the paper wrote.

Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for Turkey’s Prime Minister to repudiate the report.

In an interview with The Algemeiner SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper described the story as being “In the infamous tradition of the Protocols of Zion and Der Stuermer” and as “one of the most despicable and frightening uses of anti-Semitism by a contemporary newspaper.”

“As a nation mourns the death of hundreds of its people in a coal mine—such a banner headline seeks to further fan the toxic hate of Jews. The Wiesenthal Center urges Prime Minister Erdo?an to publicly denounce this headline,” Cooper said.

Twitter was alight with comments calling the newspaper anti-Semitic, while others used the social media platform to affirm their hatred of Jews.

Dutch journalist in Turkey Marc Guillet wrote, “#Turkish Yeni Akit #antisemitic page 1 #Soma mine owner’s son-in-law is Jew, Jewish-controlled media distort disaster.”

To which a Turkish Twitter user responded, “so what, I’m anti-jewish, too (semitic includes arabic, better not to use it that way).”

The focus on Jews in the mining disaster came after Erdo?an was reported calling a protester in Soma after the mine disaster “the spawn of Israel.”

Turkish Jew Haymi Behar reflected on “what it is to be born as ‘Israeli spawn’ in Turkey,” also in Hurriyet, writing about the intense misunderstanding and reflexive hatred for Jews in his country, and how it “means being a part of a mere 13 million tribe in a sea of 7 billion in the world, and being a small sample of the 17,000 ‘spawn brothers’ in Turkey.”

The crisis also enlivened defenders of Erdo?an, with Der Spiegel magazine withdrawing its Turkey-based reporter, Hasnain Kazim, after he received 10,000 death threats via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, with one even threatening to “cut his throat.” The offending article quoted the reaction of a miner in Soma who said, “Go to hell, Erdo?an,” stirring anger of supporters of the Turkish government.

Despite the rising tensions, Erdo?an, in a speech on Tuesday, thanked Israel for cancelling a planned celebration last week for Israeli Independence Day out of respect for the families of the 301 dead at the Soma mine.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Remembering, as an Economies Of Scale

When the shadow banking system’s best meet in quantitative easing, they quickly build “stimulus package,” and just as quickly tear them down.

The article we tried to look up was “In California, Climate Issues Moved to Fore by Governor.” 
The article by Jennifer Medina written May 19th and published in the New York Times of May 20, 2014.

I was not able to work on that article because of the NYT trying to get me to pay for that information – something that says clearly that they do not give a damn about the topic – all what they are after is the money for making information available to others for pay in case this is against interests of advertisers.   If they do not get that money, then it does not make sense for them to rub the wrong way those advertisers.

Paul Krugman on the other hand is his own man and has no part in the paper’s games.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“Rather than simply being outraged by the greed of the Koch Brothers, we should instead see their greed as a profound sickness and pray fervently for oligarchs like the Kochs to get better, for the sake of our country and the world’s future generations.”

David Koch. (photo: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
David Koch. (photo: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

 

go to original article

 

The Get-Well Card I Sent to a Koch Brother.

 

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

 

17 May 14

ear David,

Think back on the spiritual experience you had when surviving an early nineties plane crash that killed 34 people. What purpose were you kept alive to fulfill? I’ve asked myself the same question since last fall, when I somehow escaped a late-night fire that consumed everything I own in under three minutes and displaced 30 other housemates. Did we both miraculously survive these tragedies to work for the benefit of a small handful of tremendously wealthy individuals, or for the lasting good of society?

 

Your father, as you say, was “paranoid about Communism.” I imagine his vision of Communism was a populace living under the thumb of a corrupt government that took their homes, their rights, and forced them to labor eternally for meager wages with no ability to speak against it. Now compare that nightmare scenario to today’s America.

 

Millions have been made homeless by fraudulent foreclosure schemes. Globalization has eliminated millions of good-paying jobs. Most of the few job openings left are in part-time, minimum wage labor in the fast-food industry. Politicians are more interested in fundraising for their own re-election than in meeting the needs of their constituents. Americans who nonviolently assembled in public spaces three years ago and spoke against these injustices had their constitutional rights brutally suppressed by the state with tear gas, flash grenades, batons, and pepper spray. Your father’s picture of 20th-century Communism has come to 21st-century America. We both know this isn’t the nation the founding fathers, or your father, envisioned. Ask yourself – are you using your vast wealth to prolong this nightmare, or end it?

 

Your wealthy father raised you to respect hard work, and had you spend one hot summer driving a spade into Oklahoma ground that didn’t want to crack. That story reminded me of one hot, humid summer on my grandfather’s farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky, when I threw bales of hay into a loft, and knocked down a fence with a sledgehammer and crowbar to make room for a new one. Even though I’m middle-class and you’re the second-wealthiest man in New York City, we share a kinship through our upbringing. We both love this country and want to see it flourish. We’re also both spiritually-inclined people.

 

In Nichiren Buddhism, in which we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to manifest a higher life condition and have a human revolution, one of the ten worlds we experience is the world of hunger, where no matter how much we have, it’s never enough to satisfy. The tenth world, Buddhahood, can be achieved by anyone, no matter how much evil they may have done. Imagine if you were no longer hungry, renounced your past causes, changed your karma, and had such a human revolution!

 

Devote your estate to lifting people out of poverty, and advocate for a government that respects fundamental human rights and basic needs. Honor your father’s anti-dictatorial ideals by demanding an end to the authoritarian policing and intrusive surveillance that’s akin to Czarist Russia, not the United States we were born in. Use your influence on politics to push for an economy that’s powered not by finite resources dug up from underground, but by the wind, the sun, and the water. Your company would be a leading innovator in developing and propagating these technologies and would be profitable beyond measure. Your name would be celebrated worldwide for ages, and you would leave a legendary legacy that would make Americans proud to speak your name long after you’re gone.

 

I’ll be continuing to pray for your human revolution. Get well soon.

 

All the best,
Carl

 


 

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

 

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Here’s what’s going on at the White House today.
The White House, Washington

DAILY SNAPSHOT
Friday, May 16, 2014

Featured
“The Faces of Nearly 3,000 Innocent Souls”Yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day.

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together,” said President Obama. “We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. … Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.”

Read more of the President’s remarks at yesterday’s dedication.

Read more about the 9/11 museum dedication ceremony.

 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

President Obama said that the site is now a “sacred place of healing and of hope.”

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge.

Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.  Of coworkers who led others to safety.  Passengers who stormed a cockpit.  Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno.  Our first responders who charged up those stairs.  A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war.  A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country.  Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

In his remarks, the President also told the story of Welles Crowther, a young man who gave his own life in order to save others:

“On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles.  Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers.  Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety.  And in that moment, Alison knew.  Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief.  Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.

Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future.  He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world.  He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter.  And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.

Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero.  And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther.  And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.

And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum.  And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.”

“Those we lost live on in us,” said the President. “In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.”

——————-

The President kept his words tight and dignified without mentioning the perpetrators, but we allow ourselves to be more outspoken and remind our readers that the Bin Ladens are products of our insistence on using their Saudi Arabia as a mere oil-source, and do not dare to talk of human rights or other such banalities as democracy. We also would never speak up against religious Islamic Arab racism as long as the Arab world just persists in harming their own. It is only when they step out of line and harm American or Israeli citizens that we wake up – but still continue to buy their oil and gas.

Now, while we mourn the civilized world’s victims “of all races and creeds” as per the 9/11 beast-made cataclysm – our papers talk of a “Black Bin Laden” by the name of Abubakar Shrkau, the boss of the Islamic Terror-group Boko Haram who has it out against the Christian Nigerians – killing them and abducting their daughters. This is no less then a “cleansing” operation in the Islamic World, and the results are clear in the Middle East and are now being extended to Africa – this along the “oil-road” – be it in Sudan or Nigeria.

When will the US and the EU finally realize that energy is not a synonym for oil?

If Climate Change, and now also the fate of the Ukraine are no eye openers – what will ever awaken a dormant US Congress or a dormant EU Parliament that can think only oil and gas?

On 9/11 2001, the day the UN General Assembly was to start their meetings, I was supposed to participate and being inducted at a ringing of the Peace Bell. Obviously, looking at the clouds of dust hovering over down-town, that were visible even at the 42 Street at the UN, the event was postponed by several days, and when held it was more like a wake not an inspiration. I, and everyone involved in this, will never forget or forgive. (PJ)

 

============================

And from today’s mail from The Council of Foreign Relations:

Crisis in Nigeria

Why One Nigerian Crisis Attracted Notoriety

John Campbell

Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria has claimed more international attention than any other atrocity of the ongoing insurgency. A Boko Haram warlord’s video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and threatening to, in effect, sell the girls into slavery appears to have fed the media storm, tying the tragedy to larger issues of human trafficking, child marriage, and girls’ education. Read more on Africa in Transition »

Beating Boko Haram

Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “secular education is a sin,” has been committing heinous attacks across Nigeria’s north for years, frequently targeting schools. To fight back, Abuja must double down on education even as it rethinks its counterterrorism strategy. Read more on ForeignAffairs.com »

Get Girls’ Education Out of the Crosshairs

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Education has long been in the crosshairs of extremists, but only recently came to light via Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly three hundred school girls. More than seventy million school-aged children do not attend elementary school. This statistic will need to change to ensure prosperity, stability, and security. Read the op-ed »

Will the “Civilized World” do anything if the present rage subsides? (PJ)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

White House to boost use of solar panels.

12 May 2014 | William Brittlebank | Energy, Policy & Legislation, North America

President Barack Obama announced executive orders to increase the use of solar power, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and increase the number of jobs in the renewable energy field on Friday.

The president made the announcement during a visit to Wal-Mart in Mountain View, California and highlighted commitments by corporations to boost solar generation at their facilities.

Wal-Mart, Apple Inc, Yahoo Inc, Google Inc and Ikea were among the companies making such commitments.

Obama said: “It’s the right thing to do for the planet. The sooner we work together to adapt the economy to this reality of climate change, the more likely it is that we do right by our kids, and leave a more stable world.”

The president also announced that an additional US$2 billion will be channelled towards energy efficiency upgrades to federal government buildings over the next three years.

The White House outlined how financial institutions including Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, are launching plans for “large scale investment and innovative programmes” to develop solar and renewable energy installations.

The Obama administration’s energy policies are also designed to support efforts at community colleges so that 50,000 workers can join the solar industry by 2020.

An Obama spokesman also announced the completion of a project to install solar panels at the White House itself. The panels were American-made and part of an energy retrofit that would improve the building’s energy efficiency.

“The project, which helps demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years,” spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

 

 

###