September 30, 2014

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    Fighting to save sharks

    A little more than 10 years ago, while diving and filming in the South Pacific, I witnessed something so beautiful and so terrible that it changed the course of my life. First, the beautiful: During my dives to remote reefs in the region, I discovered the magic of swimming with hundreds of sharks. Now, the terrible: As we sailed west, we encountered reefs with few or no sharks, even in places where these predatory fish should have been abundant. The reefs, off the islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia, are remote, lightly populated, and lightly fished. What happened…

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    At some point, all experts were novices

    I am fascinated by how people become experts in a field. At some point, all these experts were novices and needed help navigating. I’m new to the world of professional illustration and I’m working towards becoming an expert. I want to know almost everything about the illustration industry within New York City and I will. Because I can’t afford to take classes, I have forced myself to be disciplined and resourceful about learning my craft. I’ve sought out mentors and I’m incorporating their lessons into my work. The above illustration embodies how much more confident I’ve become with drawing. A…

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    Sylvia Earle on ocean conservation: SXSW Eco 2014 preview

    This October, SXSW Eco will once again convene global experts and leaders in Austin, where they will discuss the latest data, trends and solutions to lead us towards a hope-filled, sustainable future. The annual conference focuses on environmental and sustainability issues like energy, smart planning, sustainable food, and increasingly, the ocean. The conference announced last week that ocean legend, Dr. Sylvia Earle, is to give the final keynote speech. Sylvia Earle, also known as “Her Deepness,” is one of the world’s leading ocean experts. She is a marine biologist, a National Geographic “Explorer in Residence” and was the first female…

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    Window shopping: Planning energy efficiency upgrades

    I cringe at opening my electricity bill during the summer in Texas. On 100-degree days, my air conditioner fights to keep the inside cool, but it’s a losing battle. I rent an old house with lots of cracks and crevices, which makes cold winters difficult as well. The old windows are layered shut with paint and cannot be opened. Actions such as setting my thermostat and adding curtains slightly improve the performance of my ancient windows, but ultimately I need some new ones. According to, the average home can attribute about 25% of the energy required for heating and…

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    How sustainability leaders hold steady over the long haul

    Pioneering a sustainability initiative is a lot like buying a boat. Sooner or later, the realities of maintenance overshadow whatever aspirations first inspired the investment. After the brainstorming sessions, public proclamations and other outpourings of enthusiasm fade, the day comes when you have to face facts: This is going to take work. Without the resolve to weather a few storms, your sustainability program is at risk of puttering out or blowing up in your face — that is, if it ever gets going in the first place. (In fact, if you are perpetually stuck in launch mode, you may even…

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    Wyndham Worldwide’s green governance

    Dr. Jeana Wirtenberg, nationally recognized expert in organizational change, shares the fourth of four exclusive excerpts adapted from her new book Building a Culture for Sustainability. At Wyndham Worldwide, sustainability has a governance structure that is unique in three distinct ways: Wyndham Green, Wyndham Green Council, and alignment of Wyndham’s human resources and corporate services. First, Wyndham Green is placed as high as any strategic initiative could possibly be; it is coordinated by the highly placed Sustainability Leadership Council, which is part of the Wyndham Green Council and has among its members key executive officers such as WW’s chief human resources…

Book Reviews

Putting 'responsible business' out of business
Posted by Claire Sommer on Saturday, September 6, 2014

Putting 'responsible business' out of businessChristine Bader’s book The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil offers hope and practical advice for anyone trying to stimulate meaningful change in our multi-stakeholder, shareholder-beholden, profits-focused world. Doing this kind of work is hard, but then again, pretty much anything ...
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How 9 companies are creating a culture of sustainability
Posted by Claire Sommer on Saturday, September 6, 2014

How 9 companies are creating a culture of sustainability Jeana Wirtenberg knows sustainability is about people. Living, caring human beings – who get things done. It’s not “green.” Or “eco.” Not goals or dashboards. Not on their own, at any rate. It’s people who make these things actually happen. Sustainability is people at ...
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The Big Pivot: A realist's guide to a climate-challenged present
Posted by Claire Sommer on Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Pivot: A realist's guide to a climate-challenged presentIf you’ve ever thought of dropping a book on your boss’s desk, in the hopes of sparking a Ray Anderson-type conversion, here’s a tip. Don’t use the new IPCC report: It’s gloomy, terrifying and a muddle. Try this instead: Andrew Winston’s business transformation book for ...
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Sweat and the city: The urban heat island effect
Posted by Ann Drumm on Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sweat and the city: The urban heat island effectCities are heating up at double the rate of global climate change, with major implications for human health. Managing urban heat is just as important a response as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the benefits will be felt much sooner.  Cities should ...
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