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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Assessing climate change risk

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climate changeExcept for a small but mostly insane group of climate change deniers, it’s generally acknowledged that the globe’s climate is at risk—therefore how companies assess the financial impact of climate change in their risk portfolios should be an important consideration, both for their operating models and bottom lines. Seems logical, right?

Maybe not so logical it seems. Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on corporate sustainability, contends that not many companies believe climate change will have a material impact on their business.Roughly half of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S. say mum’s the word, reporting zilch in their annual filings to U.S. regulators,” it says. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 4, 2014 at 5:00 am

Sex, drugs and GDP

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grand daddy purpleThe continuing discussion about what Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should include in order to more accurately reflect the scope and health of the economy has entered a new and intriguing dimension.

From across the Atlantic comes this question: Why not include prostitution and drugs in GDP calculations, as Italy and the United Kingdom have done? After all, those are economic activities, right?

The U.K.’s Office of National Statistics announced that paying for drugs and sex adds about £10 billion ($16.7 billion) a year to the economy. So, the British government is now including prostitution and narcotics sales in its official GDP statistics.

While illegal activities are a small part of the U.K. economy—only 0.7 percent—according to the government’s estimates, the reason for the inclusion is to harmonize economic reporting across the European Union. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 23, 2014 at 8:18 am

Less is more, more or less: Matt Ridley’s strange alchemy

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alchemyMatt Ridley, the UK author, journalist and member of the House of Lords, recently asserted in a Wall Street Journal article that the “world’s resources aren’t running out.” Well maybe, sorta. If you are into the mental gymnastics of conservative doublethink.

I could not let his piece pass without providing, shall we say, a different and more intellectually honest (I hope) viewpoint.

He asks: “How many times have you heard that we humans are ‘using up’ the world’s resources, ‘running out’ of oil, ‘reaching the limits’ of the atmosphere’s capacity to cope with pollution or ‘approaching the carrying capacity’ of the land’s ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.” Read the rest of this entry »

Employees can’t afford to eat? Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year_Amodiovalerio VerdeWelcome to the New Year, same as the old year—in much of corporate America and the Republican Party.

A recent HBR Blog item by Peter Cappelli notes it was not all that long ago that companies worried about whether their employee practices were fair. “One of the functions of human resource departments was to advocate for the interests of employees.”

That was a long time ago in galaxy gar, far away. Shareholder activism as well as court cases sympathetic to shareholder interests have meant that the vast majority of companies pay more attention to maximizing stock prices, often at the expense of their employees. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

January 1, 2014 at 3:00 am

Infographic: Do Hybrids Make Sense and Cents?

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As this infographic courtesy of AutoPawn indicates, maybe you can’t have everything—at least not yet.

Does Buying a Hybrid Car Make Sense?

Created by AutoPawn

Celebrate World Water Day: Reduce Water Use

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Irrigating_fields_SW_of_Killerton_Estate_resizedGuest post by Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

The United States is one of the world’s biggest users of water: many Americans use as much water as about 900 Kenyans. Water resources in the U.S. are shrinking. In the last five years, water shortages have occurred in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years that hit 80 percent of the country’s farmland in 2012. Even worse, the damaged land won’t fully recover this year and at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even without the impact of drought.

The Natural Resources Defense Council expects water scarcity to affect the American South, West, and Midwest the most. Fourteen states in these regions already have “extreme” or “high” risk of water scarcity. Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas face the most danger because they are expected to see some of the largest population increases by 2030. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 22, 2013 at 3:00 am

Does China really need—or want—US coal?

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coal train_mckennaThe short answer is: probably not. There are many reasons to question the wisdom of exporting U.S. coal to Asia through five planned terminals in the Pacific Northwest, including huge health, safety and environmental risks.

But what if the entire underlying economic rationale for this whole exercise—China’s supposed insatiable and never-ending demand for U.S. coal exports—is non-existent? What if that perceived and anticipated market, even if it once existed, is disappearing?

That’s the conclusion of a recent Greenpeace report, “The Myth of China’s Endless Coal Demand: A missing market for US Exports.”

“The US coal industry – reeling from sagging domestic demand, plummeting profits, and tanking stock prices – is desperate for a new market for its wares, and it thinks it has found one in China,” Greenpeace says. “But in reality, the Chinese market for US coal exports may dry up before major new US coal shipments ever reach its ports.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

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