Sunday, October 30, 2016

Guest blog from a friend of ours:
Worrisome Discovery Of "Iced Pumpkin Spice Latté" Proves Existence Of Global Warming, Say Leading Climate Scientists

According to the world’s leading climate 
scientists, this tasty new fall treat means 
we will all die in the fires of Hades brought 
here to Earth. / Associated Press
Reporting in the journal Nature, the world’s leading climate scientists announced this week the discovery of long elusive proof that the Earth is warming due to human-generated pollution.  Described as “incontrovertible evidence” of the atmosphere’s increased retention of solar radiation resulting from the buildup of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases released by human industry and activity, the paper announced the identification of a never-before observed substance that scientists are referring to as “iced pumpkin spice latté.”  Said the paper’s lead author and professor of atmospheric physics at Columbia University, James Hansen, “A beverage such as this was never intended by nature to exist.  We can only conclude by its discovery that the fundamental balance of the systems regulating the life-supporting temperatures of Earth’s biosphere have been critically disrupted by humanity’s consumption of fossil fuels and that our once edenic planet is fated to become a hellish wasteland that no one would want to live in even if they could.  And the amount Starbucks is charging for a grande is just outrageous.”  

Experts who had determined as “inconclusive” the way global temperatures have closely tracked the relentless increase in atmospheric CO2 levels since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution are alarmed not just by the confirmation that global warming is real, but that it is so advanced that the evidence is already observable even to those who lack the sensitive scientific equipment used to first detect the chilled gourd-flavored refreshment.  Max Zahniser, a Philadelphia-based green architect who volunteers in his spare time helping to resettle people displaced by natural disasters to cities that have not yet themselves become uninhabitable due to flooding, drought or daytime temperatures that can kill a healthy human adult in 30 minutes, described the moment when he lost his sense of optimism for the future.  Taking advantage of a recent late-September afternoon’s 85-degree weather, Zahniser – a self-proclaimed “superfan” of 80’s pop icon Tiffany – went rollerblading through Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park to admire the changing fall foliage while wearing his favorite tank top emblazoned with the large face of a handsomely whiskered tabby cat.  As he skated along listening to Tiffany’s 1987 hit I Think We’re Alone Now on repeat, Zahniser came upon a refugee from the former Pacific island nation of Kiribati whose family he had recently helped find housing for in the city when they moved to the US after their ancestral home became permanently flooded by rising sea levels.  “He was sunbathing by the pool that they now keep open past Labor Day weekend while flipping through a catalogue of air conditioners.  After inviting his family to join me at the beach in mid-October I casually asked him what he was drinking.  I had always dismissed the nonsense so-called ‘scientists’ write about in peer-reviewed journals, but I was totally taken aback when he said it was an ‘iced pumpkin spice latté.’  That’s when it struck me that global warming is real.”

Having steadily issued warnings for more than 30 years about the potential for global warming and the devastating impacts it would have on the habitability of the planet, scientists are at a loss to explain how the world has nonetheless reached the point where Glenda’s Taste of France Café & Deli in Poughkeepsie, NY, now offers customers a free iced pumpkin spice latté after they purchase 10 at the regular price.  The failure of the scientific and environmental communities to effectively warn the public of such a dangerous threat was a particular to blow to Moyock, NC, resident Dolores Schemple.  As an oceanographer who studies the destruction of coral reefs by ocean acidification from human-caused CO2, Schemple has made it a personal mission to warn others about the seriousness of the issue.  “I love traveling, and whenever I’m on one the many flights I take each year to vacation in places as far away as South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia to visit cultural treasures that might not be around for future generations because of the environmental threats they face, I always make a point to tell the passengers sitting next to me about how Western, fossil fuel-supported lifestyles are shortsighted, unsustainable and, frankly, selfish when you consider the environmental harm they cause.  But clearly some people just don’t get it.”  Added Schemple, “To know that people are now drinking iced pumpkin spice lattés makes me worry that I might never be able to fulfill my dream of visiting Antarctica before it gets destroyed by people who don’t consider the consequences of their actions.”

To ensure there was no confusion amongst the citizenry of the United States about how high of a priority their government places on stopping global warming, President Barack Obama addressed the issue directly while sipping a large iced pumpkin spice latté that he described as “delicious” and his “new favorite.”  Speaking in an impassioned tone, Obama declared “that the time for urgent action against humanity’s irresponsible release of CO2 gases into Earth’s precious atmosphere is now,” before being whisked away in a 30-vehicle motorcade to fly to China aboard a private jumbo jet for a discussion on reducing tariffs on US coal exports.  Concluding his remarks, Obama took a large sip of his drink that was both frosty yet warmed by a hint of nutmeg and added, “Whoa!  Brain freeze!” 

The report confirming the existence of global warming has even reached the campaign trails of those looking to succeed Obama as president.  Said Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, “Iced pumpkin spice lattés are a hoax created by China.”  The Clinton campaign, for its part, expressed concern about the impacts of global warming on the cost of college for millennials and released a policy paper detailing plans to regulate iced pumpkin spice lattés under a cap and trade system.

Despite the alarm expressed by scientists, not everyone is concerned about the new seasonal pick-me-up the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is calling the “harbinger of The End Times.”  Harold Deubner, a freelance taxidermist from Maumee, OH, said the real threat to America is Islamic terrorism, which in 2015 was responsible for the loss of 19 lives in the US.  Having just pulled into a gas station to refuel his car despite automobiles being responsible for the deaths of approximately 38,300 Americans over the same time period, Deubner said that iced pumpkin spice lattés are an encouraging sign of US economic growth and reduced dependence on oil from Muslim countries in the Middle East.  Deubner, who like many Americans believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, then proceeded to fill his tank with 10 gallons worth of hydrocarbon molecules that were distilled over the course of 234 million years from 900 metric tons of dead phytoplankton that slowly accumulated at the bottom of the ocean during the Triassic period so that he could commute to work for the next 3 days.  Having recently gotten rid of the Prius he bought when gas prices were over $4 a gallon, Deubner looked admiringly at the SUV he has been able to afford thanks to temporarily low gas prices made possible by fracking that has caused a boom in production from domestic US oil reserves, which will run out within the next 10 years. Before getting back in his car to catch up on his text messages while driving 75 miles per hour down the Interstate, Deubner raised his iced pumpkin spice latté in a toast, saying “To America finally being on track to realize a future of energy independence!”

Back in his office, where he donned a sweater to keep warm in the frigid air conditioning, Dr. Hansen described the environmental dilemma facing the world in even starker terms, saying that, if left unchecked, global warming would soon result in problems far more frightening than what has been seen so far.  “If the current trends continue, by 2021 we could start seeing frozen raspberry-lime margaritas replace milk as the traditional drink children leave out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.”  Hansen then went online to buy tickets to a water park in Upstate New York for Thanksgiving weekend for each of his five grandchildren – who, as Americans, will consume 30 times more resources than their counterparts in many other countries – while he slurped with a straw the last bit of iced pumpkin spice latté he had been drinking and remarked, “Mmmm, that was good!”
______

In case it wasn’t obvious, this article is satire.  Although global warming is serious and real, much described above – including the events, quotes, and non-famous and/or patently fictional characters who the author does not personally know – are not.  Except iced pumpkin 
spice lattés.  Sadly those really do exist.  Apologies to all who prior to reading this still believed in Santa Claus and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013



Philadelphia - A Cradle of Social Innovation


“Energy and persistence conquer all things” - Benjamin Franklin


“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - Vince Lombardi


Of all the cities in the United States, Philadelphia stands out as a city founded upon a legacy of revolution, a birthplace of a uniquely American culture. For well over two centuries, Philadelphia has consistently shaped visionaries, brilliant leaders who collectively address the most pressing social issues of their respective generations.



Today, Philadelphia expresses this legacy through its booming entrepreneurial spirit, boasting a strong economy led by business savvy company leaders and influenced by a rising workforce of young, talented professionals. While Philadelphia’s landscape and population has evolved dramatically since the days of the founding fathers, Philly's overall business culture has begun wisely reinterpreting the city’s revolutionary legacy as a hub of 21st century change. The catalyst for Philly’s growing economy is the city’s creative capital, a resource which is helping to change the moniker of Philadelphia from the “City of brotherly love (and sisterly affection)” to “The City of Social Innovation.”


Philadelphia is well known as the birthplace for many great American achievements. Tourists travel to Independence Hall to visit the building in which America declared its independence, creating a new form of government that continues to influence communities and nations around the world. Others choose to visit the house where Betsy Ross hemmed the nation’s first national flag or the country’s first public hospital. Still others visit the site which saw the signing of the country’s first Abolition Act. While walking the city, many gaze at the cities factories and ornate 19th and 20th century architectural gems, relics from the city’s chapter as “The Workshop of the World.”


While it is important for Philadelphia’s residents and tourists to revisit the city’s legacy as a birthplace of change, it is equally important for people to understand the conditions which led to and influenced these historical events. Perhaps the most significant legacy of things like Independence Hall and the Constitutional Convention is the ability of these cultural systems to gather people. The revolutionary aspect of Philadelphia’s age of independence was not the revolution itself, but the realization that when great minds and leaders convene, create tension and then resolve differences surrounding pressing issues, revolutionary results emerge. Independence emerged from Interdependence in a big, ultimately very public way, in this place.
During the 21st Century, Philadelphia’s legacy as a city of innovation expresses itself through the city’s burgeoning sustainability movement. Interpreted differently than in other cities like Portland, San Francisco, Boulder, and Austin, Philly’s green movement stays true to the city’s roots. Just as the founders demonstrated in the late 18th century, Philly’s current leaders are responding to the most pressing social and environmental issues of our day, from challenges which lie in adapting to our planet’s climate crisis and its contributing trends, to a multitude of resource challenges and living system crises that current generations are facing on behalf of posterity.


Prior to Mayor Michael Nutter’s inauguration, Philadelphia’s green movement established itself beneath the radar of the city’s economy. Following the exponential growth of the city’s sustainability movement in recent years, today’s green economy is comprised of nonprofits, for-profits, political agencies, educational institutions, and public sector enterprises. And after several years of initial investment, the rewards of Philly’s green economy are flourishing with successful neighborhood and citywide initiatives popping up throughout Philadelphia.


Coinciding with Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2008 pledge to make Philly “The Greenest City in America”, Philadelphia has emerged as an influential green city with an expansive array of companies and organizations comprising Philly’s environmental and social innovation ecosystem.


Community Design Collaborative - Since 1991, members of Philly’s professional design community have volunteered through this collaborative to produce pro bono design plans and services for nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia, raising awareness about the importance of design in revitalizing neighborhoods.


Indy Hall - Founded in 2006, Philly’s first coworking space, Indy (Independents) Hall, is inspired by the spirit and mission of Independence Hall and boasts a collection of independent entrepreneurs, techies, and artists innovating their industries.  


Sustainable Business Network formed in 2007 to represent and support the thriving green economy of Greater Philadelphia. The organization educates a growing base of local businesses, policymakers, and the public about the leading sustainable business practices.  
B Lab - B Corporation arose in 2007 to certify a regional and national triple-bottom-line economy. The nonprofit's “Declaration of InterDependence” aims to certify the for-profit companies leading the charge to channel the power of private enterprise to create public and planetary benefit.
Grid Magazine emerged in 2009  to illustrate and report the unfolding sustainable movement of Philadelphia. Grid’s monthly publication and blog educates readers about Philly’s local successes and hard-earned victories, leaving readers feeling inspired to take on their world.


EEB Hub or Energy Efficient Building Hub opened in 2011 as The DOE’s Energy Efficient Buildings Center in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. The Hub’s primary goal is to develop methods for reducing regional commercial energy use by 20 percent by 2020.


Philadelphia Water Department kicked off their Green City Clean Water in 2011 to offer  green stormwater infrastructure initiatives and alternatives, preparing the city’s infrastructure and population for the water challenges of 2025 and beyond.
The Sustainability NEXUS has stepped up as the organization that will function as the connective tissue among the members of the amazing environmental and social innovation ecosystem, managing virtual and physical infrastructure for greater symbiosis, including coworking spaces, event spaces, innovative web-collaboration and social media tools, and a multitude of facilitated discourse, educational, and recreational events.
…To name only a few, a very small percentage of the amazing activity out there.
Just as Philly’s founding fathers discovered in each other an extraordinary set of allies with talents that could be synthesized to redefine social, economic, and governmental systems, Philadelphia’s groundswell sustainability movement is evolving to overcome complex and formidable issues together. In doing so, the city’s social and environmental leaders are turning problems into potential for economic growth today and a more livable future tomorrow.  In this way, the movement has accurately interpreted the legacy of this revolutionary city, a legacy which has proven that when individual leaders convene through collaboration and effective partnerships, their movements sustain the dream upon which this city and nation were founded - “to assume among the powers of a [healthy] Earth, our [collective and] unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
____________________
“People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it.”  
-George Bernard Shaw
Author: Andrew Schlesinger
Editor: Max Zahniser

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Sustainability NEXUS gets a shout-out from USGBC CEO in front of 10,000+ Greenbuild Plenary


video

The Meaning of Sustainability According to NEXUS

The Meaning of Sustainability According to NEXUS


It is our opinion that the term sustainability in and of itself is very simple. Its root, sustain, simply means to maintain, keep in existence, provide for, or nourish. We believe its not necessary to cake a bunch of additional complexity onto the word itself. When one applies this concept to the real complexity of the real world, it actually demands that this simple idea remain simple, and be added to a systems-based worldview (seeing the world as a complex set of interconnected and interdependent systems).

So the question then is what are we applying this term to; what are we talking about sustaining? This is not only where confusion, but also debate can enter into the concept. Many out there equate sustainability to environmentalism. Given our systems worldview we believe this is too simplistic, and somewhat misses the point. An Eco-centric perspective not only misses the fact that environmental crises tend to most directly and profoundly impact the most vulnerable members of human society, but also that economic, social justice, and environmental systems are inextricably intertwined in many other ways. You don’t achieve, let alone sustain a desirable condition within one without addressing the others. This is our version of the Triple-bottom-line concept (people-planet-profit, or equity-ecology-economy, etc.). Typically displayed as a Venn diagram, we believe the following model for the triple-bottom-line is more accurate:
Nested-Systems Model of the Triple-Bottom-Line
© The Sustainability Nexus, 2011

This nested-systems model better reflects reality, in that in terms of Earth’s living systems humans are members of life on Earth; economy is a human system, created with specific purpose for our own civilization. Humanity existed and could exist without an economic system, though not in any semblance of civilization. Many would also argue that the current economic system is utterly failing in its purpose with regard to many members of society, and the polarized debates around this blame various factors. Likewise, life on Earth would go on without humans, by SOME measures more successfully, because the way we currently meet our needs tends to degenerate other living systems.  

Inputs and outputs flow across all of these lines, and sustaining a version of this system that is repeat-ably and indefinitely maintainable is what we believe the high-level, larger concept of sustainability is about.


What this means to us is that we’re seeking to support people and organizations that are deliberately and explicitly striving to contribute to some aspect of that outcome. Because short-sighted (single) bottom-line only decision-making ultimately hurts even profits, and because the other two bottom-lines more directly represent the systems that support human and other life, and our happiness, we seek to support social justice and environmental performance organizations and individuals, or other “traditional” businesses that better account for these other two bottom-lines.