Aussie Engineers, Rich Chinese, and an American Inurance Student, This Week in Sustainability


Last week the Brits dominated This Week in Sustainability. This week it’s the Aussies, Americans, and Chinese. Its a mixed bag of news with purposeful intent to avoid the #GreatOrangePeel Trump as he careens towards impeachment.

Aussie Engineers to the #ClimateCrisis rescue!

The Guardian newspaper reported some 1,000 Australian engineers from leading engineering service firms have signed a declaration to “evaluate all new projects against the environmental necessity to mitigate climate change”.

The 12-point declaration acknowledges engineers are involved in projects “connected to 65% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.”  The engineers are effectively saying no more, as they pledge to proactively work for a low-carbon future.

Incredibly, the resources lobby in Australia made “veiled threats that engineering companies signing the declaration might be effectively blacklisted from other projects.

(May they roast in the special hell created by the over 4 million hectares or 9.9 million acres of bushfires in the country last year.)

Aussie engineers extorted…. not likely

While some of us have the steel to threaten an Aussie, very few would dare intimidate and Australian who also happens to be an engineer.  I know who I want to have my back in a fight.

G’ud on ya mates!

Not just gears, insurance agents too?

Speaking of steel, Schuyler Holder has a lot of it.

Holder is working to phase out underwriting insurance for coal and other fossil fuel activities. “When are US insurance companies,” she wrote recently in Teen Vogue, “going to get serious about climate change and stop supporting coal and other fossil fuels?”

It’s a great question.

All drivers need insurance. So do coal plants. The Trans Mountain Pipeline? Can’t be built without insurance. Offshore oil rigs? Fracking operations? All need policies.

That’s why Holder started Insure Our Future, an awareness campaign and petition to get young insurance folks to speak their mind about the #ClimateCrisis.

Holder: Time for insurance to not unwrite the #ClimateCrisis

Holder also warns the American Insurance industry that many new graduates like herself want to work in companies where sustainability a priority.  

With some 400,000 job openings this year alone, most to be filled by new and young entrants, the industry would do well to listen to Holder and make not underwriting fossil fuel a priority.

More Chinese in the top 10% richest than the USA

It’s happening.  America is losing its economic preeminence.

According to CBC, there are now 100 million Chinese making over USD 109,000. The US has 99 million.

Why is this news This Week in Sustainability newsworthy? Many reasons but two, one bad and one good for sustainability, stand out.

First the bad. More Chinese wealth will lead to more consumption. More cars, beef, animal protein, plastic, fossil fuel… just a lot of more consumption.

Emissions from livestock in China alone equals 15% of all carbon emissions. This is set to double in the next 30 years as consumption of meat increases. That is just one example.

Coal is another.

In 2018, electricity fueled by coal in China rose by 4%, while generation from gas (and renewable energy sources) also continued to grow

More consumption…. and more sustainablilty investments

Contrary to these depressing sustainability trends and second, greater consumption will spur more Chinese investments in clean energy, lower chemical input agriculture, electric cars and more that is sustainable.

Renewable energy kilowattage is growing faster in China in all categories – wind, geothermal, solar etc. and it led all countries in renewable energy investment with 32% of global share.

In reaction to growing toxicity found in food, some 40% – 50% of Chinese consumers now prefer natural, organic, and sustainable products over conventional alternatives. This makes China the 4th largest and fastest growing organic market in the world.

Now cars. In 2018, 1.3 million electric vehicles were sold in China, with sales expected to rise to 1.6 million in 2020. The US? Only 362,000 cars sold in 2018.

Should we be optimists? There is a lot of good things happening in China but the verdict as they get richer is far from clear.

Historic Indigenous rights bill in British Columbia, Canada and it is about time

Imagine you had your home and land confiscated by the government, your assets stolen and the cemetery where your relatives since beyond memory were buried got paved over, your children forcibly removed from your home, your bothers and sisters, mothers and fathers made addicted to a terrible drug, and your cultural rites and activities prohibited.

If you can imagine this, you may just begin to understand ever so slightly why the province of British Columbia’s tabling of the Indigenous rights bill last Thursday is an almost unbelievable step towards the restitution of crimes committed against First Nations in Canada.

The legislation aligns the province’s laws with the standards of the UN declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This is something Indigenous groups across Canada, indeed the world, have long been wanting. 

Equal rights for Indigenous Peoples

Endorsed by the national government of Canada as well, the UNDRIP has 46 “articles meant to recognize the basic human rights of Indigenous people along with their rights to self-determination.”

The declaration provides a framework for the province to align its laws with the standards of those set out by the UNDRIP. The goal is to work towards ensuring Indigenous peoples can live at the same standard as all others in the province.

Indigenous rights leader of the First Nations Summit, Cheryl Casimer told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “this moves us away from a relationship of denial… where we can sit as equal decision-maker at tables where decisions are being made that impact our lives.

Eight years of drought

Has PG&E’s rolling electrical blackouts in Northern California avoided starting forest fires?

Many in Kincade, CA believe a transformer malfunction of the California utility was responsible for the fire now raging in their area. The malfunction occurred last Wednesday at 9:20 p.m. The fire started at 9:27 p.m.

The fire and devastation wrought are just more notches in the #ClimateCrisis belt.

But there is an upside to the blackouts.

PG&E,” wrote Abrahm Lustgarten in the New York Times Magazine, “has made the apocalyptic future of the climate crisis immediate and visceral for some of the nation’s most comfortable people,” contending with some reason, “It is easy to ignore climate change in the bosom of the developed world. But you can’t fail to notice when the lights go out.”

Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth was not poorly named. For it seems inconvenience, like loss of electricity for a few hours, leads to belief of and hopefully, action on the #ClimateCrisis.

Like politics, it would seem, all things #ClimateCrisis are local.

Thanks to @annalynnmartino and @KQEDnews, and for the tweets.

The Last Word

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has nothing on these inspiring Palestinian kids who were out this week protesting for governments to act on the #ClimateCrisis.

Turns out that you can be entirely oppressed and care more than just about your own immediate needs.

Or maybe, the kids know countering the #ClimateCrisis is an immediate personal need?

Either way, you know we have a truly global movement when Bedouin kids from Palestine are marching by your side.

Signs of change

For centuries, a whole lot of Judaea Christian theology implied or outright claimed humans were above, distinct from, or beyond the wild savageness of nature and that it was our duty to master and control it.

Today, we certainly are learning something different in this sign of change

XR proud.

And remember….

If you want to get all that nasty out of your investment portfolio, get your copy of my book Invest Like You Give a Damn….


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