Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category


Consumers in 2030: Crowd House Mortgages

Posted in Research, Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on March 12th, 2013

Source: Forum for the Future (UK)

Crowd-House-mortgages_web-lores
Image: Forum for the Future / Which?

From Crowd House Mortgages: how our financial world might be different in 2030 by Simon Howard:

“The financial world of 2030 as seen in the Consumers in 2030 report we produced with Which? magazine is radically different from that of today with the emphasis on shared endeavour and a disintermediation of large financial institutions. The Crowd House Mortgage idea couldn’t be more removed from the model of today. The capital lent is sourced from people who know the borrowers – possibly only in a virtual sense – and the lending decision is taken not by computer but by those lenders. “Computer can’t say no, co-worker can say yes.”

Could it happen? Quite possibly. The economic environment may not get better and banks may continue to be unpopular. That’s the “production” side of the current version under pressure. The demand side may be more subtle, coming down to what young people prefer out of the options outlined in the report: multi-generational living, expensive renting or buying with peers in a rolling re-run of student days. Put like that, seeing appreciable demand for co-own mortgages isn’t impossible is it?

The research makes it clear new ideas are needed and not just in housing. One we are looking at in the Forum is an alternative pension, the sustainable lifetime pension. The idea is simple: instead of investing in financial assets located quite possibly thousands of miles from your home, you invest locally in things that will secure a better quality of retirement: How can you help make old people feel more secure? Invest local pension contributions into the local economy so that people are employed closer to home and can feel more protective of the area where they work. How can you protect the elderly from rising energy prices? Allow them to direct pension savings into local renewable energy schemes whilst they are working in return for capped energy fees in retirement.

You can see the idea: local money into local assets with a return which isn’t entirely financial. That idea and the crowd source mortgage are some way away now. But both are valid ideas for focusing thinking debate as we look at an unclear future.”

Go to the Forum for the Future blog to read more by Simon Howard, read other posts in the ‘future artefacts’ series, or download the Consumers in 2030 report.


Mapping Global Climate Action

Posted in Models, Tools by Jessica Bird on October 25th, 2012

Source: The Climate Institute


Screenshot from the Global Climate Action Map website

An initiative of the Climate Institute, the Global Climate Action Map is an interactive tool for exploring what countries around the world are doing in terms of policy action on climate change. It’s a great way of learning about how governments are addressing issues such a renewable energy and emissions targets, carbon pricing, energy efficiency, forest and farming emissions, and emissions standards.

From the Global Climate Action Map website:

Aim: All major emitting countries are implementing policies to reduce emissions, drive clean energy investment and improve energy efficiency. This is driven by a range of factors including the need to reduce local and global air pollution, avoid environmental degradation, improve energy security and build new industries and employment opportunities. This map, while not exhaustive, seeks to provide a summary of high-level national actions on climate change.

Purpose: While countries representing over 80 per cent of global emissions have now committed to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions, the current commitments on the table mean the world is still heading for 3-4 degrees of global warming. Current national policies are a foundation to build upon, but more cooperation and increased ambition is needed to truly address the challenge.

Visit the Global Climate Action Map to explore the map yourself.

 


Agroecology versus Industrial Agriculture: Infographic

Posted in Models, Tools by Jessica Bird on September 27th, 2012

Source: Nourishing The Planet

Infographic by The Christensen Fund

From the Infographic ‘Soil to Sky: of agroecology versus industrial agriculture’ by The Christensen Fund

In order to feed our world without destroying it, an holistic type of agriculture is needed, and we have a choice. Here we compare the current high-input industrial system with a renewed vision for agriculture: the agroecolocial system. […]

Agroecological strategies can better feed the world, fight climate change and poverty, and protect soil and water while maintaining healthy, liveable communities and local economies. Industrial agriculture contributes to climate change, malnutrition and ecosystem degradation around the planet. It has not delivered on its promise to feed the world.

Go to the post on Nourishing the Planet for a higher resolution version.


Food Economies without Fossil Fuels: Animation

Posted in Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 17th, 2012

Source: Sustainable Food Trust


Screen grab from the animation by Marija Jacimovic & Benoit Detalle

>> Driving food economies without fossil fuels

A short animation by Marija Jacimovic based upon Michael Pollan’s talk “Food Rules” given at the RSA. Not only are we going to have to learn to drive an industrial economy without fossil fuels, we’re going to have to learn to create a lot of food without using them. Here are some of Michael’s snippets of sense on the matter.

>>Watch the animation on the Sustainable Food Trust website.


Marine Stewardship Council Releases Sustainable Seafood Marketing Toolkit

Posted in Tools by Jessica Bird on May 25th, 2012

Source: FIS


Image © MSC

The UK based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has recently launched an online marketing toolkit that is designed to help partners promote their commitment to sustainable seafood and increase sales of MSC certified products. The toolkit includes ‘shopper touchpoints’ or phrases in a number of different languages and a series of images that can be adapted to suit the needs of each campaign.

From “MSC introduces web-based marketing toolkit” by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The online platform offers MSC partners a ‘turnkey’ solution to engage with consumers on seafood sustainability issues at the point of sale. As consumer demand for certified sustainable seafood continues to grow, the web-based toolkit is designed to allow more MSC partners to take part in marketing activities that help drive shoppers’ preference for MSC labelled products, enhance partners’ sustainability credentials and reward fisheries that have demonstrated they are operating sustainably. […]

“This online toolkit builds on the lessons that we have learnt and provides a wealth of inspirational ideas and materials that are available to all partners to download and which have been shown to connect with shoppers very effectively.” said Simon Edwards, Global Marketing and Communications Director, Marine Stewardship Council. […]

Providing a flexible marketing solution has been a feature of MSC’s marketing support and partners with a valid Ecolabel Licence Agreement are free to adapt these ideas to fit their own retail template to promote their MSC labelled range. This new platform complements other MSC tools and activities that promote partners’ commitment to sustainability such as joint marketing campaigns, sustainable seafood product finder, and a new seafood app.

Read the full article here.
You can explore the marketing toolkit here.


Economic Value of an Urban Forest: $80 billion

Posted in Models, Research, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on March 22nd, 2012


Photo by Mike_tn via flickr CC

From “Environmental contribution of Tennessee’s urban trees: $80 billion”  by James Holloway:

A study published by the US Forest service values the State of Tennessee’s urban forest at $80 billion thanks to its contributions to the environment. With an urban population of 284 million, that equates to a mean value of $282 per tree.

The total is based on a number of costs that are to some extent offset by the presence of Tennessee’s urban forest (its urban tree population, in other words). These include $350 million-worth of carbon storage based on the current standing stock, over $204 million every year in pollution removal, $18.4 million per year in additional carbon sequestration, and $66 million per year in energy savings-“the most significant contribution” made by the urban forest, according to State Forester Steven G. Scott. But how are the environmental benefits of the trees evaluated?

Data was collected and analyzed using the Forest Service’s own i-Tree Eco software. Using a mobile app providing strict protocols for data collection, researchers took information from 2418 trees and saplings across 255 field plots. Variables noted include species, diameter at breast height (or DBH—taken at 1.4 meters above ground), height, crown dimensions, foliage transparency, damage, and proximity to buildings. The pool of sample data is assumed to be representative of the total population, and from there the software crunches the numbers using “peer-reviewed equations” to paint a macro-scale picture of the urban forest, based on quantifiable characteristics that describe its structure, condition and function.

>>Read the full article by James Holloway on Ars Technica.
>>Read the US Forest Service study.


Climate Challenge: Play the game

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011

Climate Challenge: Earth’s future is in your hands

A game where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.

Play the game.

(It’s a bit confusing but the help button gets you through) 

About the game:

Currently there is a growing consensus amongst climate researchers that Earth’s climate is changing in response to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The main debate amongst scientists is focussed on the amount of climate change we can expect, not whether it will happen. With the current level of debate in mind, the BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. The producers’ primary goal was to make a fun, challenging game. At times it was necessary to strike a compromise between strict scientific accuracy and playability. For this reason, Climate Challenge should not be taken as a serious climate change prediction. Wherever possible, real research has been incorporated into the game. This document describes the scientific sources used to create Climate Challenge and some of the compromises made by the producers. These sources are a good starting point for someone interested in learning more about climate change. This document also describes some of the compromises the producers made for the sake of playability.

Game focus and aims

Apart from the primary goal of creating a fun game, Climate Challenge’s producers aimed to:

  • give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
  • give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
  • give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.

Players must respond to catastrophic events caused by climate change as well as natural and manmade events, which may or may not be linked to climate change. This aspect of the game is meant to give some idea of what could happen as the Earth’s climate changes and also introduce the unpredictable nature of some natural events.


Citizen Scientists Wanted for Climatology Projects

Posted in Movements, Research, Tools by Rob Eales on August 17th, 2011

Source: Skeptical Science

Photo: ARM Climate Research Facility on flickr, Licence: Creative Commons

Citizen Science: Climatology for Everyone is a great post over at Skeptical Science listing projects that aspiring Citizen Scientists (that is, you, me and anyone) interested in Climatology can take part.

“With recent posts addressing personal action in the fight to combat global warming, I thought it would be interesting to dedicate a post to ways in which the average citizen can help global warming by directly contributing to our scientific understanding of it. That is, becoming a ‘citizen scientist’.

Citizen science projects date back hundreds of years, with many of the first projects involving citizens keeping track of wildlife populations. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is perhaps the most famous in the United States and dates back to 1900. With help from the internet, and a growing recognition of the value that citizens are capable of contributing, citizen science projects have been rapidly growing.

The range of subjects that are covered by citizen science projects is vast. Here are just a few of them, which directly relate to climate change:”

Read the full article by Dawei.

Also have a look at recent posts by the writers on the site about their own personal action and approaches in regard to climate change issues. The actions of individuals who are charting the changes and challenges of climate change link research and action and illuminate personal responses to the current situations which are usually missing from other sources of media, especially for climate scientists.


Eco-Ideation Tool: Re-Thinking Product Design

Posted in Research, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on August 3rd, 2011

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)


Bocken N M P, Allwood J M, Willey A R and King J M H (2011). ‘Development of an eco-ideation tool to identify stepwise greenhouse gas emissions reduction options for consumer goods’ Journal of Cleaner Production 19 1279-1287

Abstract

Pressure on consumer goods manufacturers to develop new products with significantly less environmental impact is growing, through increased consumer awareness of environmental issues and governments setting ambitious emissions reductions targets. A strategic response to this pressure is to prepare a portfolio of innovative product ideas to meet a range of future emissions reductions targets.However, although extensive work exists on ideation (the generation of novel product ideas) and ecodesign (design for reduced environmental impact), eco-ideation (generation of ideas that particularly aim to reduce environmental impacts) has had little attention.

The challenge of eco-ideation is to release the creativity of a broad range of employees, only few of whom may be familiar with the drivers of environmental impact. This paper proposes a novel tool to facilitate the generation of radical product and process ideas giving step-change reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The features of products and processes that drive greenhouse gas emissions across the product life cycle were characterized with a set of indicators. A simple visual tool was created to show these indicators on a sliding scale between best and worst imaginable performance. A leading question associated with each slider was designed to stimulate lower impact ideas.

The tool was iteratively refined and simplified through structured testing with individuals from across a range of roles and differing knowledge of environmental impacts. The final eco-ideation tool used 14 scales, with leading questions for each scale developed to stimulate idea generation. The tool’s effectiveness was evaluated through use in a series of 15 individual workshops and compared with the outcomes of an equal number of conventional 12-person group-brainstorming sessions.

The comparison suggests that using the simple tool generally leads to a wider range of more radical ideas than emerge from group brainstorming.

Read more about the Eco-Ideation paper here.


Local Harvest: Metasite for organic & local food

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 26th, 2011

From the LocalHarvest website:

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.

The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy. The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relation with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms. The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening the US to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.

LocalHarvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms. We now have more than 20000 members, and are growing by about 20 new members every day. Through our servers, our website and those of our partners serve about three and a half million page views per month to the public interested in buying food from family farms. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet.

www.localharvest.org

Ethical Consumer is setting up a similar resource in Melbourne, Australia, and is seeking local involvement. KA