I was fortunate to sit down with Upstream’s CEO, Matt Prindiville. During our conversation, we covered sustainability versus climate change, the power of the public and private sectors, ESG, circular economies, rational climate optimism, and more!
Upstream Solutions is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 with a mission to not only reduce but remove single-use plastic from the world. Their organization finds, makes, and celebrates practical solutions that help people, businesses, and communities shift from single-use to reuse. Over the past few decades, they’ve worked with countless orgs committed to a more sustainable future.
When asked about the future implications of climate change, Prindiville said, "I'm an optimist. What scientists are saying is, of course, very scary. But when I think about the change I’ve seen in my career, it’s incredible how far we’ve come. Ten years from now, you'll see environmental and social responsibility be the norm worldwide."
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A burgeoning space tourism industry is gearing up for significant expansion. Critics believe that increasing space flights would be detrimental to the climate.
In the past year, two billionaire-backed companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, have completed successful test flights of their space tourism vehicles.
And last week, SpaceX, the company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, announced that it had raised $1 billion from investors to help fund the development of its space tourism vehicle.
Let's find out how retail space flights will impact the climate.
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Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report on the state of climate science.
The latest report from the UN-sponsored body spoke of humanity's "unequivocal" contribution to climate change. Media headlines followed with phrases like "code red", "catastrophe", "frightening", "hell", paired with images of burning forests.
Humans may be screwed, but here's why I'm still optimistic about Earth's future.
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The scoop: Two billionaires flew into space this week, neither of which contributed to scientific research. We want to know... how much carbon does a space plane emit?
Key talking points:
- traditional rocket fuel depletes the ozone, but bezos used a liquid form of hydrogen and oxygen that is more sustainable.
- one atmospheric scientist reported that bezos's rocket emitted nothing more than "water and some combustion products".
Bottom line on billionaires in space: It's not necessarily a climate problem, but the world is in no shape to spend that much money on vanity projects.
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The report: A 2016 study of over 8,000 threatened or near-threatened species found that over-exploitation and agricultural activity posed a much greater threat to biodiversity than climate change.
Why it matters: Climate change is long-term and abstract. But it also gets all the breaking news coverage. In reality, harsh trends like deforestation and poaching pose immediate threats to wildlife. They need urgent attention, too.
These tangible problems deserve similar attention to carbon emissions. Most ESG funds pour cash into (trendy) clean energy while critical species face extinction from other causes.
Sustainable suggestion: Environmental solutions should be more well-rounded. How can we work more cooperatively with intersecting threats like wildfire risk mitigation and ecological restoration, for example.
A forestry organization may want to clean-up deadwood to prevent harsher wildfires, but a conservation group will sue them for cutting down a sacred forest. A conservation group may want to support hunting an invasive species , but an animal rights group will publicly condemn them.
Organizations with differing philosophies should work more closely through coalitions and associations to understand their perspectives.
Bottom line: Climate change is important, and intersects with basically every ecological issue. Not arguing we should take it less seriously. But that behemoth threat will be much easier to manage if we knock off smaller issues that we see, touch and feel.
We need smarter farming, more responsible animal agriculture, accountability for commercial hunting, fishing and logging. We need more stringent land protection in sensitive areas of the developing world. It's as important as climate change.
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The scoop: Biden vowed to sign the Paris agreement in his first day in office. As an environmentalist, I think it's all hype no action.
Why Paris no bien:
- It's a pledge, not a policy. There's no binding enforcement mechanism. So a country like Russia or Mexico can agree to it, but it doesn't hold them accountable.
- It lets China off the hook. China, the #1 carbon emitter in the world, can hide behind the US if we re-join it. If the US led the world on climate policy without Paris, it would expose China's energy reality (they are slated to make up nearly half of global coal demand in 2024).
Bottom line: We get it, Trump sucks and he left the Paris agreement so the Paris agreement must be amazing. Well, the Paris agreement is ultimately not that significant in terms of climate action. Policy reform > pretty pictures
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