With so many of us working from home and using services like Zoom to meet with co-workers and customers, an obvious question is whether this trend is good or bad for climate. Add to this all the streaming video we are consuming for entertainment while stuck at home, and the question takes on some urgency.
I have wondered for some time about my digital carbon footprint, and I have worried that my Zoom meetings, nightly Facetime calls with my daughter and my new habit of binge-watching television shows might be adding up to an obnoxious amount of carbon emissions.
As the US West Coast struggled to contain unprecedented wildfires, Donald Trump maintained that science really doesn’t know the root cause of this devastation. Before we dismiss this as another off-the-cuff Trumpian comment, the pandemic has shown that a president’s beliefs — however illogical and unscientific — can translate into official US government position. When it comes to climate and the future of this planet, there is every reason to be concerned.
Donald Trump’s handpicked postmaster general has executed the president’s plan perfectly. He has made sure that we can’t depend on the Postal Service to get our votes in by November 3rd.
Mail delivery has slowed down, overtime has been cut, mail sorting machines have been removed from various processing facilities, and mailboxes were being removed until a rush of bad publicity put an end to it. The Postal Service has warned nearly all states that voters might not be able to return their ballots in time to be counted.
By Kumar Venkat and Susan Cholette
Let’s say you are a business executive or a business owner. You have heard that 2030 is pretty much the drop-dead year for drastically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to hold the warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst of climate change. You are data-driven in everything you do, especially in how you run your business. You are no stranger to financial models and business projections. You see that climate models are predicting the unfolding climate crisis just as well as models do in other fields.
You would have liked governments…
By Kumar Venkat and Susan Cholette
Imagine a world where many businesses — large and small — quantify their greenhouse gas emissions annually and develop plans for cutting emissions. Imagine also that emissions accounting and planning are no more complicated or expensive than financial accounting and planning.
This imaginary world is not just nice to have, but will be essential if we are going to have any chance of holding the warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C. The window for 1.5°C pretty much closes in 2030. By that year we will need to have cut emissions 45% from 2010 levels…
Kumar Venkat and Susan Cholette
As most of us stay hunkered down at home, we can already see a clearing of the air. There are reports of dramatically lower air pollution and smog around the world. Los Angeles saw a 29% drop in air pollution in March, and the nitrogen dioxide in the air from Boston to Washington is at the lowest level since 2005. The International Energy Agency is projecting an 8% drop in global carbon dioxide emissions this year.
This situation is unlikely to last unless we act. The 2008 financial crisis showed that the rebound in emissions…
Susan Cholette and Kumar Venkat
The pandemic has upended supply chains. No doubt many of you, like us, have had to adjust your purchasing habits. Since we study how companies are now re-tooling their business models, we have considered how some practices could translate into consumer behaviors that might serve us better even in normal times.
Supply and demand shocks are showing the importance of supply-chain resiliency. Companies that depend on global sourcing have been unable to get products or parts as Chinese factories have slowed or shut down production. Anyone visiting Amazon recently may have faced similar supply shocks…
I was one of many consultants and analysts trying to help companies cut their carbon emissions a decade ago. In the end, we did not manage to put a dent in the annual greenhouse gas inventories of nations. The record high global emissions this year and the rising US emissions are not surprises. We could have predicted this emissions trajectory years ago.
We would have had to put in place carbon regulations about a decade ago in order to start bending the emissions curve right about now. In the 2000s, many companies were actively looking at their operations and supply…
If we assume that just half the US households recycle regularly and spend 10 minutes a week rinsing and setting aside the recyclables, we are looking at over half a billion person-hours of time invested annually. Add to this governmental involvement and subsidies, and recycling may just be the one big thing we do for the environment as a country.
But do we really know what happens once the bins are emptied into the recycling trucks?
One way to look at the environmental benefits of recycling is through the greenhouse gas emissions saved. Recycling in the US saves a modest…
As you sit down to eat a holiday dinner with family or friends this year, the Earth’s climate may be the farthest thing from your mind. But if you are looking for a good New Year’s resolution in a few weeks, you can’t go wrong with climate-friendly eating. The links between food and climate are significant but fairly simple to understand. It is not difficult to eat well without destroying the climate.
Perhaps the biggest climate decision around food that most of us will make is the choice of proteins. Red meats like beef and lamb have a dramatically higher…