Posts Tagged ‘green’

 

The response to climate change: apparently it’s up to the little guys

Posted by bill brower on July 23rd, 2010

It’s looking unlikely that the U.S. government is going to take serious action on climate change any time soon.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Senate wouldn’t consider a significant climate bill before their upcoming summer recess. This doesn’t leave much time before the November elections, in which Republicans are expected to make big gains.

This lack of political will in the U.S., the questionable actions by multinational institutions in the name of fighting climate change, and the failure of the global climate negotiations in Copenhagen show that the world can’t leave the response to this grave challenge to big fixes.

As Mari Kuraishi, Co-Founder and President of GlobalGiving, and I write in a white paper, this is a global problem, but the response, for most–particularly in developing communities–will be at a local level.  Social entrepreneurs, local leaders and community-based organizations have a great opportunity to not just “leapfrog the dirtier phases of development” as President Obama has said, but to blaze new, globally responsible paths to socioeconomic prosperity.

For this approach to sustainable development to work, there must be an effective translation of demand for these solutions to those on the ground. What is needed are clear metrics that allow donors, but perhaps even more critically–the social entrepreneurs–to  understand how changes at the local level can translate to this hitherto unknown path to development. This has the potential to harness currently decentralized resources and creativity for this huge challenge.

GlobalGiving’s Green Score is a first attempt at such a metric.  The Green Score evaluates our projects’ climate attributes, as well as a range of aspects of sustainable development.

The score is highly weighted on “additionality,” or how much benefit the project will bring that wouldn’t have happened otherwise and how much additional impact donors’ dollars will facilitate.

It also rewards projects for things like including women in planning and implementation—the importance of which is being more widely recognized.

We are currently holding a Green Open Challenge exclusively for organizations who are new to GlobalGiving and have passed our green assessment. You can support these organizations as they lead the grassroots response to climate change at GlobalGiving.org.

Read the full White Paper on Green.

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer at GlobalGiving.

A Grassroots Alternative to Carbon Offsets

Posted by Donna Callejon on April 22nd, 2009

Originally posted at HuffingtonPost by our co-founder, Dennis Whittle

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like the carbon-intensive industries are likely to face either a tax on carbon or a market for buying and selling emissions allowances in coming years. But it is not just power plants and large manufacturing facilities that contribute to climate change. All of us are accountable for some level of emissions–begging the question, how can you account for what your organization produces?

A popular answer is carbon offsets–essentially funding a reduction in emissions or increase in carbon storage somewhere so that you can continue emitting carbon here. Although offsets have been widely embraced, the actual amount of carbon kept from entering the atmosphere is often questioned. OK, it will help plant trees. But where? By whom? And will they live the 20+ years necessary to accomplish their offsetting purpose?

An alternative for skeptics is to fund projects that have received the climate-friendly “Green Leaf” designation on our online philanthropic marketplace, GlobalGiving. Our site features smaller environmental and social projects from around the world, letting you find opportunities you would not otherwise discover. Project leaders post detailed project descriptions so donors can see exactly what they’re funding. And donors on GlobalGiving can see directly the difference their donations are making through updates from the field.

Instead of quantifying offsets, we are encouraging individuals and organizations to take responsibility for their own emissions by helping these projects expand their reach. And, we are able to promote a much broader range of projects that address climate change. For instance, a project in Ecuador teaches tens of thousands of children about climate change and ways to combat it. We can’t translate this into tons of carbon, but it can result in a future generation of green voters, consumers, and policymakers. Other projects from the Environmental Foundation for Africa are working not only to provide solar electricity to schools in villages in Sierra Leone, but also to train technical school students in their installation and maintenance.

Encouraging the Third World to keep walking the same well-trodden carbon intensive path is ultimately unsustainable. As David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel of the Center for Global Development report, if nothing changes in the global South their cumulative contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will exceed that of the North within the coming decades. That means that even if developed countries cut their carbon emissions to zero, developing countries will face the same future–rising temperatures, more droughts and flooding, more frequent and intense storms, changing weather patterns.

And there’s no better time to donate to GlobalGiving Green projects than now – the Give a Little Green campaign is matching donations to these projects by 50% through April 28th or until matching funds are exhausted.
Thanks to Bill Brower for the research supporting this post.

From Peanuts to Saltwater greenhouses: Innovative synergy at the Development Marketplace 2008

Posted by Marc Maxson on September 25th, 2008

It took almost an hour to get past security at the World Bank, mostly due to errors on my part. But at least it gave me time to read through the brochure for the 2008 Development Marketplace. By the time I had secured a pass, I knew exactly which projects I most wanted to visit in the expo. Social entrepreneurs from all over the world had been invited to present their ideas at the Development Marketplace, an effort started by GlobalGiving’s founders.

Being a scientist, I have a love for projects with novel adaptations of technology to problems in the world’s poorest countries. For example, the first project on my list to visit used modified kegs to transport chilled milk by bicycle to market in Ugandan villages. The project offered innovations along three lines: equipment that could be built locally and maintained for up to ten years, an energy-efficient vacuum chilling system, and a low enough initial investment cost that a milk-producer could recover costs in a fraction of a year.

Next I visited a Senegalese biofuel-powered motorboat project. Having criss-crossed Senegal in 2003 as a Fulbright studying the impact of Internet in rural schools, I found myself curious both about the science and how it would change transportation in Senegal.

I was momentarily disappointed when the oilseed “biofuel” turned out to be peanut oil. It sounded so… ordinary. But then I saw a diagram of the device that produced it.

“It’s a press connected to a small motor. One can build this peanut processor for about $600,” Daniel, the presenter, assured me.

“That means any village could afford to convert peanuts into oil?” I asked. This was an improvement even beyond what the presenter might have guessed. For years, getting groundnuts (the name for peanuts in Africa) to market in The Gambia has been the single largest source of low per capita income. By the time the peanuts travel down the dilapidated roads, the crop has sat in sun and moisture long enough that it cannot pass safety standards for US and European markets. Instead it is diverted to much less lucrative secondary markets. You see, old peanuts grow fungii that produce aflotoxins when they sit too long. And despite nearly all Gambian farmers living a horse cart’s ride from the Gambia river, no barges have yet to travel from the capital to collect the crop quickly.

Daniel had been helping to redesign outboard motors to run on peanut oil. With a different propeller and a few modest adjustments to the engine torque using an internal system of pulleys, any standard motor could run on the crude peanut extract. As a bonus, even the fuel processing was sustainable, as each liter of peanut fuel could power the peanut refining machine to produce five more liters of fuel.

As impressive as turning peanuts into a gasoline replacement might seem by itself, the potential synergy between Daniel’s project and the project presented by his immediate neighbor at the expo was even more so. Although thousands of miles apart in real life, motors running on peanut fuel might be just the sort of low-tech piece in the larger puzzle of turning seawater into life-sustaining food and water for desert communities that his fellow innovators have been looking for. Some clever engineers demonstrated that exposing seawater to sunlight in a green house would humidify the air and stabilize temperatures to create optimal growing conditions. Adding an energy-efficient compressor allowed a 100 square meter greenhouse to produce several tons of water each day, more than enough to supply a village. As a bonus, the village could grow some of its food in the greenhouse, enabling the community to endure droughts.

How the seawater greenhouse works

Unfortunately the initial cost was high (around $50,000) relative to the purchasing power of the world’s poor, water-hungry villages, but the costs could be much lower if the 2.5 kilowatts required to operate the saltwater greenhouse could come from peanuts grown within it, rather than from pricey photovoltaic solar panels. Such synergy is still difficult to achieve over the surface of our vast Earth, but online communities like GlobalGiving are just the sort of place where project leaders might one day bump into each other and notice the merit of each other’s approaches, combining efforts, achieving unexpected breakthroughs.

All of these projects are the sort of groundbreaking ideas we try to attract to our site. After, it is up to the site’s visitors to find the best ones and convert these possibilities into realities.

Earth 2.0

Posted by alison on May 1st, 2008

We’re big fans of green – the color and the lifestyle – at GlobalGiving, which is evidenced by our new bright green wall in our construction-laden headquarters.

It started off by being able to calculate your carbon footprint, and now in the trend of calulating your “green-ness”, you can find out if you are living a sustainable life.

This amusing quiz asks, “What would the world look like if everyone lived like me?”

I, for one, have often wondered that.

If everyone lived like me, there wouldn’t be annoying commuters on the metro, milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup would always be stocked in the fridge, Trident cinnamon gum would come out of retirement, and the Red Sox would be on regular TV, not just in the New England media market.

On the other hand, classic art would consist of hand-drawn stick figures and dishes would pile up in sinks around the world.

But that’s not what this quiz measures.  This quiz examines your lifestyle by your home, fuel consumption, trash production, use of public and personal transportation, what you eat and what you buy.

Almost as fun as fun as making your Mii, you create a character to represent yourself, choose your location and you’re off to the races!

Find out how many planets it would take to support your lifestyle.

Boston Green Sox

Posted by alison on April 11th, 2008

Green is in vogue right now at Fenway – and not just on the 37 foot high Green Monster in left field.

It’s not a huge secret that I love the (2007 World Series Champion) Boston Red Sox.  As a native of Massachusetts, the Red Sox are a lifestyle, more than a team for me.

Two weeks ago, the Red Sox season started against Oakland in Japan.  And after what seemed like an endless roadtrip, opening two more parks, the Red Sox finally came home to Boston on Tuesday for Opening Day at Fenway.  Rings were presented, Bill Buckner was forgiven and there was general merriment throughout the land (well, at least in Boston).

So what’s with the green?  Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that Fenway Park would be going Green.  The 96 year-old ball park will install enough solar panels to heat 1/3 of the hot water needed in the park and reduce the park’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 18 tons.  As part of a $600,000 initiative, named Solar Boston, that was designed to increase the city’s solar engery output 50-fold by 2015.

The ultimate goal of Solar Boston is to increase the city’s solar output from 1/2 megawatt to 25 megawatts – enough to power over 3,000 Boston households.  The initiative will identify other south-facing rooftops – ideal for the panels – and market the initialtive to more business and homes.  Additional plans include installing the panels on many municipal buildings, including Brighton High School, The Strand Theatre, Tobin Community Center and West Roxbury Branch Library.

From a GlobalGiving perspective, this is a great little earth-changing (or earth-greening) idea.  Kudos, city of Boston and Fenway Park.