Monday, February 4, 2013

Flooded Out

Posting Hiatus

 ~ Dishwasher surprise!

First a trickle into the subfloor we couldn't see, then a gush, heaving up the floor. The hardwood is continuous throughout the entire level, in every room and every closet except the powder room, and now it needs to be completely refinished in order to have it all match. (Don't get me started on the waste that entails.)

So, we have to move out, all of a sudden, for as much as 2 weeks. Like either my wife or I have time for that with our jammed schedules of work, clients and kids. It would be wonderful to go to the tropics for the whole time, but alas, too many commitments for such an escapist fantasy.

While I hope to post at least occasionally over that time, it's a good bet that posting will be intermittent for the next little while.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tough Oversight

But the Focus is Misplaced

Doc Hastings
 ~ Even as oil drilling continues to set new records, Congress will be closely monitoring... the regulators!
Tough scrutiny “is more important than ever,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., at the opening meeting of his Natural Resources Committee... Hastings said his panel’s role will be to keep pace and ensure any new “regulations and actions are thoroughly scrutinized and challenged if necessary.”
Doc Hastings is a continuing embarrassment to the US House. Would that he expended the same energy to thoroughly scrutinizing the cavalier and environmentally short-cutting drilling industry that he squanders instead on those trying to honestly regulate it on the public's behalf.

When it comes to scrutinizing the industry, Hastings and his panel do too much overlooking and too little overseeing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sustainable Investment

Growing Worldwide

Investing hand-in-hand with social aims
 ~ Environmental, social or governance concerns are incorporated in the selection or management of more than $13T of professionally managed investments according to a new report issued under the auspices of new group Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.
Nearly 22 percent of professionally managed assets around the world can be considered sustainable or responsible, according to a finance industry assessment, the first comprehensive look at the subject.
Critics question the rigor of such terms as "sustainable"; a more accurate total might be less than 22% considering the temptation towards greenwashing that still persists in many a hidebound industry.
“It is a huge problem that there are no set criteria used by industry today to define ‘sustainable’ practices or investments – on what basis are these claims being made and who has vetted any such criteria?” [said] Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute... “Investment is necessary, but only if investment criteria are first vetted by local communities, to incorporate labour, environmental and social concerns. Given that no such standards exist, and given that corporate accountability remains a major difficulty, this is extremely problematic. We need to see that investment is actually elevating communities and natural systems, because that’s what the world needs.”
Whether 22% or a smaller figure, there is a better question than one of methodology or definition.

Why are 78% (or more) of all investments unsustainable, irresponsible, or both?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Renewable Energy?

Lower Cost, Lowered Volatility

 ~ Furniture and home furnishings retailer Ikea plans to double spending on renewable energy to $4B by 2020. The PR value is probably great, but saving money is the driver:
The additional spending on projects such as wind farms and solar parks will be needed to keep expenses down as the company maintains its pace of expansion, Chief Executive Officer and President Mikael Ohlsson said in an interview in Malmo, Sweden.

“I foresee we’ll continue to increase our investments in renewable energy,” said Ohlsson.
US oil prices 1946 to present
Ikea plans to get 70% of its energy consumption from renewables by 2015, and 100% by 2020. Not only are wind and solar approaching or reaching grid parity in many places, they provide pricing stability and predictability for businesses, something not provided by volatile oil prices.