Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Those Sneaky Climate Alarmists

A video came cycling around to me that provided gleeful evidence that the Climate Alarmists use sneaky methods to distort the information and make everyone shake in their boots because the world will end in less than 12 years. This guy, Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), even went so far as to create a tool to find the best point in any trend graph for best (mis)representing data.
As with many such reports, I would always like to find myself wrong, and to discover that I've become a Climate Alarmist for nothing. All that lost sleep, spending time developing business ideas and models that are both sustainable, politically viable, and profitable.
Sadly, Heller is simply a fraud. He used his own tool to make fun of activists, and to distract people from facts. Here is a great video by Mallan Baker that takes on a couple of Heller's debunk graphs to debunks the junk.
Why is Heller talking Continental US and pointing at specific US cities when we are talking GLOBAL warming. The US had some wicked hot years during the Dust Bowl, for example.

Wikipedia can be the best overview source for highly active and rapidly updated pages like these: Global Warming, Climate Change, Sustainability in general, and Climate Change Denial.
By now you know that everyone knows that there's global warming. Thermometers tend not to lie.
But I keep finding people who have been convinced that warming is not very much, or that it is a natural cycle to earth, or that humans are only responsible for a fraction of the warming we are experiencing.
Even the oil companies now acknowledge that there's global warming, but their business model is not conducive to any of the logical approaches to deal with the issue aggressively. In fact, according to internal documents, the oil companies have know for half a century that global warming was a byproduct of their product and hidden this from the public in order to protect their business-as-usual profits.

With current technology, we can easily measure the energy that comes from the sun, and the amount that is reflected back into space. All evidence shows global warming is happening, and at an accelerating pace. You can use lots of good data sources related to land, ocean, air, ice coverage, etc. Statistically, solar flares, volcanoes, El Nino and other major factors can be isolated; warming can easily be primarily attributed to human factors.

We don't have time to debunk the deniers, people and lobbyists who are paid by deep fossil interests. We need to go about becoming more sustainable, like as if our collective lives depend on it. Business-as-usual (oil, gas, coal) is unsustainable. Being unsustainable is something that must change, sooner or later. Being unsustainable has a way of becoming more and more expensive, and coming to an ungraceful end.

Fortunately, we will actually save money (i.e., more profits) from doing smart and sustainable things. Solar and Wind are now far cheaper than fossil fuels in most locations (even when combined with battery). Renewable energy is especially cheaper when considering all the externality costs of fossil fuels (pollution, health, national security).

Energy efficiency offers a perpetuity of savings. The greenest gallon of gas is the one never pumped, refined, shipped and burned. The greenest electricity is the negawatt. We also like Teleworking, the greenest commute is zero-distance which consumes no time.

Let's all start with those things that can be done immediately (within weeks or a few months) and those that offer a perpetuity of savings. We need to start putting the magic of compounding to our advantage, not toward more non-sustainable practices.

< * Notes & References * >
Wikipedia is a great source on Climate Change. Start with the Global Warming Book.
An excellent source for fact/fiction/myth is: (I've never seen anything there that was not supported with sources and provable with current data.)

The log entry for Baker video:
A few days ago, noted Climate Change commentator Tony Heller released a new video with some killer facts that completely exposes the conspiracy over climate change. Or does it? Let’s discuss. The Mallen Baker Show is aimed at all people who see themselves as change makers, with commentary on issues and change movements with a particular focus on climate change and environment, social issues, free speech and corporate social responsibility.
References in this video:
Tony Heller’s original video
The National Climate Assessment Report
Extreme heat and cold graphs
Wildfires analysis https://andthentheresphysics.wordpres...
Interview with Dr Ottmar Endenhofer, IPCC (in German) Integrated sea ice graph
Piecing together the arctic sea ice history

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Renewable energy of Wind and Solar no longer needs subsidies

Nice Bloomberg article here. Renewable of Wind and Solar are now cheaper than coal, oil, gas, nuclear. No big need for subsidies to make them competitive.
But, there's also no need, quite the contrary given the externality costs, for subsidizing fossil fuels!
Nice article with great graphics show the fall in price for wind and solar.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

That soda will kill ya!

Sodas will kill you, it seems. Sugar, hfcs, or artificial sweerners, all will shorten your life.!
This massive study in Europe followed almost a half million people for an average of 16 years, analyzing death rates. Drinking two or more sodas was correlated to many types of fatal illnesses.

Other studies have shown links to cancers and other ails.

Doctors recommend water instead.

Meanwhile, drinking a glass of beer or wine increases your life and (generally) improves your heath.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What history suggests about +3 to +4 degrees in sea level rise!

Study of ancient caves in Europe show how high sea levels should rise when temps go up 3 or 4 degree C.
You can figure about 20 to 60 feet (7 to 20 meters).
A study published in Nature looks at what water levels might look like in a +3 world.
The article is summed up in Scientists discover evidence for past high-level sea rise.
Of course, you can always model the global warming on earth to see where we land with +2 or more degrees.
A scary study just out finds that ice sheets are melting from below at between 10 and 200 times faster than originally expected!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sustainable Supply Chains: 75 including Ryder

Here are 75 supply chain companies as compiled by Inbound Logistics that have significant commitment to efficiency and sustainability in their companies and in the supply chain. Shipping companies include major shipping companies: packaging (FedEx, DHL, UPS), cargo and trucking companies.

Ryder Logistics has been honored with this distinction for 11 consecutive years. See here in business wire. Wow.

Some of the Ryder efficiencies include EV and Fuel cell solutions for (client) trucks.  But a critical first step in shipping is the efficiency of routing and shipping. If a "better" route can reduce the truck and driver time by 10%, the savings are huge. Provide that savings to thousands of client fleets, and Ryder really makes a difference.

Financially, doesn't Ryder (R) stock seem rather cheap, even after a big run up to $59 this week. Forward PE is 9, PEG 0.63, Dividend Yield is almost 4%. The company has orders/contracts for years, even decades.  I guess that's the impact of a little trade warring and economy slowing? Uncertainty can really whack out those companies in the middle of everything -- especially shipping and logistics companies.

Glad to have been associated with Ryder in the past.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Processed Foods will Kill ya

There's a great study out related to letting people eat processed foods, as much as they want, verses giving people healthy food... as much as they want.
Personally, I wonder if the salt alone is not part of the problem.
Those people who eat processed foods for the required 15 days, eat more and gained more weight.
This seemed like an exceptionally well designed study. One group did the 15 days healthy first, then junk-y food; the other group did the opposite.
NPR did a great go at the results of this study that was published in Cell magazine.
Looks like very good controls were used.
When on the ultra-processed foods diet, subjects eat more and eat more quickly. Really. The researchers thought that they might eat more rapidly because the processed foods required less chewing. All health and body weight markers sent along with the over-eating.
The supplement shows the menus each day for the ultra-processed foods and for the non-processed foods. Check out the pictures of 7-days of food each. Really interesting is the snacks in each case. Lay's potato chips, Planter's peanuts, Keebler's cheese 'n peanut butter crackers, etc. vs apples, almonds, etc.
As always in diet, the question is about organic vs. non-organic. First glance did not indicate organic on the healthy side?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Make your own fuel, while air conditioning (HVAC). Carbon Capture.

Imagine a great idea that is entirely possible with new technology coming down the pipeline from various sources. That is what an article in Scientific American by Richard Conniff envisions based on a paper published in the Nature Communications which proposes a partial remedy based on A/C units:  Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (or HVAC) systems move a lot of air. Dittmeyer, Klumpp, Kant and Ozin (2019) describe the idea of using renewable energy from solar, wind and water to produce immediate energy and also produce a portable fuel as the democratization of energy.

Basically, the idea is to take excess energy from the A/C condenser unit (heat dissipation in cooling mode) and extract hydrogen and carbon from the air and produce a hydrocarbon fuel. Sounds cool enough. And surprisingly not way-out there futuristic because some of the basic technologies are already developed. This is a great application of Carbon Capture and Sequester (CCS) technologies. It is extremely local, and would create a local fuel that could be portable (hydrogen and/or synthetic oil).

Personally, I like the fuel cell concept where the fuel cell uses hydrogen and can go basically instant-on, thereby serving as a backup generator. Energy (from any source) can be used to make hydrogen from air, water and other sources including methane and alcohol. As an example, a miniature fuel cell can be implanted into the human body with hydrogen as the fuel, and recharged through the skin (reversing the fuel cell process with hydrogen and oxygen on one side and water on the other); thereby creating a low toxic battery solution.

Implied in this article is the idea of using centralized power plants and then at the point of use, home or business, creating a CCS which also creates a local, portable fuel. This brings us back to industrial solutions where the CCS is done at the plant where about half of all the energy produced is lost (heat from turbines) and CO2 is intense vs the 410 (to 900) parts per million in the atmosphere (and in buildings).

Hidden in this whole discussion is that scenario that is here and now, not futuristic. Renewable energy is cheaper and massively cleaner than conventional energy, and it can be located anywhere. Storage, in some form, is really the bottleneck; and storage in the form of synthetic fuels is a really, really cool (partial) solution.


Dittmeyer, R., Klumpp, M., Kant, P., & Ozin, G. (2019, April 30). Crowd oil not crude oil. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09685-x

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Microplastics everywhere... Blow'n in the Wind...

Here is an article in ARS Technica about an article in Nature Geoscience (2019) that talks about microplastics in the French The Pyrenees Mountains, a pristine place, except for, well, plastic!

The researchers made extremely controlled efforts to assure that they were not contaminating the samples gathered. But the plastics are coming in on the wind, and coming down (mainly, it seems) in perpetration. 

If microplastics are everywhere, then our impacts on the planet are far more, and far more prevasive than anyone has predicted. The ARS Technica article by  -
original article, remember the whole biomagnification thing. That's where fish each plants and plankton with plastics, Bigger fish eat those fish, and BIGGER animals like sharks, bears and humans, eat the biggest fish. The heavy metals, plastics and more will build up and up as they go up the food chain. And they tend to be retained at the highest order.

Sources: Nature Geoscience, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0335-5  (About DOIs).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Population is a killer for Global Warming. Good news, Kinda.

The world's out of control human population growth is something that few people want to talk about loudly because it sounds so very insensitive. But the increase in world population at nearly exponential levels is non-sustainable and multiplies all issues of sustainability: exhausting natural resources, pollution, etc. Estimates are that world population will grow to between 9m and 11m by mid century and then slowly decline.
 World Population Estimates
Source: OurWorldInData

The problem with increased population is a double whammy. Not only are there more people, but the footprint of each person should raise dramatically as more people enter the middle class (or higher). Countries like China and India that have burned only 2 barrels of oil per person annually, can be expected to move up their consumption to 4 or 5 times that, more in line with the USA. People that eat lower on the food chain, rice and corn, can be expect to start eating beef and pork which takes 20 to 30 times the resources to produce. 

But, a new study, published in the Lancet, has found that fertility rates since 1950 have dropped faster and further than anyone expected. (See the BBC article by James Gallagher on this study.)

The low fertility rates in developed countries means that their populations should start shrinking (without net immigration). In 1950 women had an average of 4.7 children in their lifetimes, a rate that is now half at 2.4! Fertility rates less than about 2.1 result in a decrease in population (excluding net immigration). Many of the developed countries, like the UK with 1.7, have less than 2. Japan has 1.3. With fewer young people to work, the aging retired population becomes a bigger and bigger burden on the economy. It will take decades for the change in fertility to work through the population levels. 

Economic development has long looks at the use of population to improve the overall economy; more people could/should result in more things produces and a bigger economy. However, per capita economic development can be significantly improved by reducing the number of children. If the economy increases at 5%, but population also increases at 5%, then the per capita income remains the same. China reduced the rate of population growth, and that contributed dramatically to the improved per capita income and the rise of the middle class. I just saw stats talking about the percent of Chinese in extreme poverty at about 1950; more than 90% of the population lived in extreme poverty (currently a purchase-power-parity of $1.9 per day). By 2018, only about 1% of Chinese are in extreme poverty.  Controlling their population was a big contributor to China moving to surpass the USA in terms of economic power (GDP of more than $23T vs $19.5T for US). (Of course their single-child policies have caused many other problems and has recently been relaxed.) 

China and India represent about 35.7% of the worlds population with 1.4B and 1.34B, respectively. China has stomped on the brakes for decades; India has only tapped on the brakes. China's growth rate is only 0.39, while India's is 1.2. US is 0.71 and Japan is -0.23.

So, a big sustainability question, is first to stop the increase in population world-wide and regionally. But should sustainability initiative actually champion the reduction of world population. One way or another we need to get back to the carrying capacity of Mother Earth.  When you look at Earth over-shoot day, which has moved to August 1, it becomes graphically clear how much we are depleting the earths resources to live beyond our means. Stated differently, about 212 days into the year, we exhausted the renewable resources provided by the earth (and sun), so the resources consumed in the remaining 153 days of the year are depleting resources. In 1987, overshoot day was December 19th; in 2000, overshoot day was November 1.

This is the same as your annual salary paying all your bills until August 1 (58% of the year), and then you have to borrow money to pay for the rest of the year. Each and every year, you have to borrow more because the overshoot day keeps moving earlier in the year. Non-sustainable issues like overshoot are cumulative, and compounding. Not only do you owe the cumulative total of all the borrowing, but the interest keeps growing at an expanding rate using the magic of compounding.

We need to get our overshoots (and deficits) under control, and start to make the magic of compounding work for us, not against. Getting countries (and world) population growth under control is probably the most important factor in sustainability, and ultimately, the health and wellness of our plant. It's pretty important, as well, for those things that have become accustomed to living on this planet.! 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wind n Sun are now cheaper/better than Coal, NatGas, etc

By now you probably knew it was happening, but you probably didn't realize how much and how fast. If you figure subsidies, Solar and Wind are a slam-dunk powerful option.
Wind prices have been dropping fast and solar has been dripping like lead... Solar prices have dropped about 86% over the last 8 years.
Check out the latest 2018 report by Lazard. Note that they also analyze renewables with storage (batteries).
The Solar incentives make the solar option for most settings (especially in Sunny Florida) crazy profitable. For example, the investment of $100 for a rather serious system (much more than a home residence would need) would have a tax credit of 30%, plus 100% depreciation in the first year. So, if you had a 20% tax rate, your investment would look like this:
$100k Investment
-30k Tax Credit
-20k Depreciation
=50k Net investment. (Thant's only 50% of the original investment.)

Payback would be less than 8 years, maybe 5.
The power company has historically increased prices by 3% (or more in Florida)... Not a problem if you are producing your own power.

Return on investment would probably be 20% or greater after 20 years.
Solar in sunny places like Florida is a pretty good investment; but with the tax benefits solar is a crazy profitable investment. Plus you are saving lots of other resources including water and carbon dioxide.
We're working on a few calculators. Solar and Renewable Energy. This is a positive investment that keeps on giving.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Criminal Injustice: Is abnormal non-sustainable?

We at SustainZine look for things that are abnormal, things that are so inefficient and clearly irresponsible that they should be categorized as non-sustainable. We think the Criminal Justice system in the USA qualifies and non-sustainable.

Question, what is a "normal" rate of incarceration for you citizens? And if you are a way out-of-control outlier to the other developed countries, does this represent non-sustainability.
That is, if you don't put anyone in jail, are you leaving your citizens to be rampaged by mobs and vigilantes? If you have far more people in jail than any other developed country, is this non-sustainable. When does it fully represent a "broken" system of (in)justice.

Our sister site (or talks about the US criminal system of incarceration. It is clearly broken, and totally not sane: More prisoners in US than any other country: Criminal (In)Justice Scenarios.

Here is the first paragraph:

The US has the most people incarcerated of any country in the world… Even though we only have 4.3% of the world’s population, we have more inmates -- 2.2 million -- than China (1.5m) and India (0.3m), combined (36.4% of world population)! We have 23% of China’s population but 40% more incarcerated. We have almost 1% of our population (0.737%) incarcerated! We have 6 times higher incarceration rate than China, 12 times higher that Japan, and 24 times the rates in India and Nigeria. That’s right, an American has a 1,200% greater chance of being incarcerated than a Japanese citizen. We have even a 20% higher incarceration rate than Russia with 0.615% of their population in (Siberian) prisons and jails.

Tell us what you think. Is this insane? Do we need to reform? What do you think could be rationally called a "sustainable" level of incarceration?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Backup to a Better Backup Generator Solution

You may already have a backup generator for the house. In fact, you may have the backup generator with you just about everywhere you go. Plus, it might be totally quiet, for hours.
Yep, we are talking about your hybrid gas-electric vehicle. Hybrids have been selling like crazy on the farms because they can easily be used to generate 120-volt electricity to run hand tools and generally provide backup power.

Most newer vehicles offer a 120 plug, but they won’t power much. What you need is an inverter that will power whatever you want, frequently 300 to 400 watts will be sufficient for many applications. Smaller inverters can be simply plugged into a cigarette lighter, but bigger inverters should be wired directly to the battery.

A backup solution for the house is rather awkward, inconvenient and requires fuel at a time when the least fuel is available, storms and outages. Here’s the cost for a generator solution.

The generator solution costs something like this:
·         Generator $500 (or about $500 to $1,000 for an inverter that is much quieter and provides smoother power).
·         Fuel, maybe 8 to 12 gals per day. At 10 gals x $3 is $30 per day.
·         Storage of generator and fuel cans.
Traditional generators (gas or propane or diesel) provide lots of smoke, noise, and require maintenance. The generator produces electricity, even under very low loads, so much (maybe most) of the electricity (and fuel) is wasted.
Generators are best used some distance from the house so as not to asphyxiate the inhabitants.
Tip. Make sure not to allow the generator to run out of fuel, the sputtering causes the generator to surge which kills off appliances at an alarming rate.
Auto with Inverter
Hooking an inverter to the vehicle may be a very good solution for many purposes, especially lower loads in the house such as refrigerator, lights and fans. However, you will have to go start the vehicle before the battery gets too low. (Taking regular lead batteries below 50% will seriously erode their life span.)
A 1000-Watt inverter can cost between $80 and $110 (modified-sine wave), and about twice that for the higher quality output of a pure-sine wave recommended for sensitive electronics.
Your vehicle is rather quiet, and rather fuel efficient compared to a generator. Your typical vehicle will not be able to handle large loads, however. One approach is to set up a battery (or battery bank) that can be recharged via the vehicle.
Even better is to hook up to your hybrid vehicle.
Hybrid Vehicle with Inverter
The hybrid vehicle is a wonderful backup power supply, just like the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) you use for your computers and wifi. You can have continuous power as needed, when needed. Plus, the hybrid vehicle is designed to start up the motor and recharge when the collective batteries get low. Very cool.
Here’s how you do it. Hook up your power inverter directly to the 12-Volt (direct current) battery of the hybrid vehicle to produce alternating current (120 AC). Put the vehicle in the “on” mode, but with all the vehicle electronics turned off, i.e., turn the air conditioner and lights off. Now, when the batteries run low, the vehicle will automatically start to recharge all the batteries, lithium as well as the 12-volt battery.
Tip: Please make sure the vehicle is in a safely ventilated area. Do not set this arrangement up in the garage!
Add in a Battery (Bank) and a Solar Panel (or More)
So good news, you now have an inverter with your vehicle so you can use good, clean, quiet power anywhere you and your Prius happen to be. Yippee!
But how about the home or cabin when the Prius is away?
Get a battery or more, and hook up the inverter to it. This should help you get through several hours with just the refrigerator. Batteries of this type (deep cycle, for example) will cost $150 to $350 each.
Then, get a solar panel, or more, and hook them up to recharge your batteries during sunlight hours. (Costco has a 100W Coleman with 8.5 amp charge controller for $159.)
Now, I have continuous power for low load (the battery plus a 1100W inverter at $90, all for under $400). I’ll buy more batteries and/or more solar panels as and when I need them. The 1100-watt inverter does everything that I want to do in emergency or in the cabin. It does a small air conditioner (window unit or small mini-split for a short period of time; a refrigerator for several hours; LED lights and fans for days). It won’t do central air, well pump, oven, dryer, hot-water heater, microwave, or several heavy load items simultaneously. Bigger load electronics include blenders (making Hurricanes and Margaritas), blow dryer; coffee pots, electric saw, etc…
Be careful putting together your system and your battery banks. Hooking two 12V 100 amp batteries together can result in doubling of the voltage (48 Volt in series) or double the amps (200 amp hours in parallel) depending on how you hook them together. Make sure you get the right inverter to match the higher voltage if you go in series. Try to get the same batteries if you bank ‘em.
I can see you eyeing your electric golf cart, you already have your own battery bank on wheels. Unfortunately, the voltage will be 36 or 48 Volts (say 6 x 6-volt batteries hooked up in series is 36 volt). Your inverter would need to match the voltage of your cart (or carefully hook up a 12-volt inverter to 12-volt battery equivalent, which in this case is two 6-volt batteries).
In short, you may already have a great backup power supply solution. Hook up your hybrid to an inverter and you are good to go. Add in a battery (or more) and a solar panel (or more) and you have a nice, quiet, renewable power solution.
Tip. Use a volt meter. The meter is cheap. Burning out electronics can be expensive, cause fires, shock the bejeebers out of you, and generally be very inconvenient!
Tip2. When you buy your new hybrid vehicle you get “up to” $7,500 back in the form of current-year tax credits! The federal tax credits for new EV and PHEV cars (and for home solar, as well) are phasing down, so you might want to accelerate your purchasing decisions. (See ins and outs of tax credit for vehicles at Edmonds.)

Do we all need to rethink the way the design/plan for (emergency) backup power? Let us know what you think? 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Our Sister site, IPZine, just published an article about Sustainable Ag and the Monsanto Dilemma.

Where Intellectual Property (IP) and Sustainability Meet (GMO and Monsanto)

Monsanto is an IP Giant. Or was. Patented both the herbicide (RoundUP) and GMO crops designed to ignore it. But, Monsanto has been less than honest with us. Glyphosate, and Monsanto's fate, in jeopardy. #IPZine #GMO #NonGMO #glyphosate

RoundUp is a cocktail that contains glyphosate and several "inactive" ingredients. But, don't take the research on glyphosate to guarantee an exact comparison with RoundUp which contains surfactant(s) among other agents to help the herbicide stick and penetrate. In addition, RoundUp seems to build up over time, especially with increased usage (because of increased week tolerance).
Combine that with genetically modified crops, and you have a trifecta of experimentation on the world's food supply.
Monsanto takes both sides of the bet, making money on the RoundUp side and on the genetically modified crop side. Even though the patents on seeds and on roundup are expiring, Monsanto has been using all means at its disposal to maintain monopoly power (on the US ag markets).
Plus, there's RoundUp Ready 2 Yield(r), the next generation.
Enjoy the read at IPZine and think about how comfortable you are with our US food supply?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Corn that fertilizes itself with Nitrogen Fixing bacteria.

This is a cool article in Science by Ed Young about a giant corn varietal in Sierra Mixe Mexico that grows in very poor soil, but actually fertilizes itself. There's a bacteria that grows around the roots that absorbs nitrogen from the air and provides it to the corn. The team of researchers led by Alan Bennett from UC Davis referred to this a "Nitrogen Fixing" which works just like roots absorbing nitrogen from the soil.
In this case, the soil is very poor quality, so the corn actually gathers nitrogen from the air (78% nitrogen for dry air).
One major disadvantage of this corn is that it takes 8 months to mature.
The benefits are many. In a linear world of farming, row crops are raise on big farms and the crop shipped off to marked (cities), which deplete the soil. So fertilizers are needed to replenish the soil to grow the next crop. The fertilizers (mainly phosphate and nitrogen) end up running off into the water ways and result in massive ecological damage such as algae blooms and red tide.
Because fertilizers are expensive to buy, and expensive to apply, farmers continue to do a better job with fertilizers. (Other factors like urbanization, turf grass and golf course are taking over lead positions in pollution generation.)   However, linear systems in farming are non-sustainable, broken systems, compared to Regenerative Farming approaches that use non-til and corp rotations to restore the quality of the soil.
To commercialize this "nitrogen fixing" cereal crop requires some improvements, new varietals (sexual reproduction) or genetically engineered (GMO crops). The intellectual Property (IP) of such crops will be important. Profits and the capitalist system at work, availability to the people and countries that need it, and the property rights protections that make IP work are just a few important ingredients in the dissemination of new technology -- in this case, new crops.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Attributes of Successful Sustainable Leaders

Great article on Sustainable Leaders: The 8 Attributes of Successful Sustainable Leaders by Bob Langert over at
In our experience and prior research, communications is key to success for the sustainability professional. Yes, communications is a tool, but the first skills needed are communications: both internal, external and collaborative. Marketing internally is simply rallying the troupes, and demonstrating the case, including the value proposition. Externally, it is some combination of public relations, promotion, marketing and sales in order to demonstrate the value to customers business partners and the public.
Getting the government to work with, not against, sustainability is often very tricky since there are often many players with very short term interests that run against sustainability (real estate developers, coal and oil, for example).
So let's gauge the 8 attributes (although I don't think they were in any particular order) by Langert toward the level of communications involved:
  • Courage. Courage to speak up for what is the right thing to do.
  • Conviction. 
  • Cleverness. 
  • Contrariness. 
  • Collaboration. This is the one factor that fully requires communications at all levels. Plus it is one of the main attributes of traditional leadership: collaborative vs. authoritative. 
  • Cheerfulness. Funny, but true.
  • Charisma. A traditional leadership approach/style that has been demonstrated to work in getting people to follow a leader.
  • Humility. Being humble does require a special kind of communications. 
We are all in the world of sustainability together. The trick is to get people to think long(er) term and then back up to best decisions for everyone in the present. Although you can't argue with Langert's list of 7 Cs and and H, you have to admit that it doesn't really capture the full nature of a successful leader in the world of sustainability.
It does give those of us who are trying to be successful in sustainability efforts, something to think about.