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Posts Tagged ‘Energy’

By Yannai Kranzler

How would you respond to sitting on an airplane, digging into the seat pocket in front of you, to discover that your complementary in-flight magazine was dedicated to caring for the environment?

Would you be thankful? Hopeful? Would you laugh? Would you sigh and say, “Well, I’m the one paying them to emit Carbon Dioxide- it’s very courteous of them to make an effort?” Or would you say, “This is, like, over-the-top obnoxious- is it possible to get more cynical than an airliner claiming to be a part of “The Eco-Movement?”

I ask because I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago, on my Continental flight from Pittsburgh to New York. Continental, it seems, has gone green, titling the September issue of Continental Magazine “True Green,” dedicating it to “People, Places and Products Driving the Eco-Movement,” including in it many references to Continental’s environmental accomplishments. I didn’t quite know how to react to this.

Now I didn’t say that I don’t believe Larry Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines when he lists the company’s “Commitment to environmental responsibility” as a reason to fly Continental, but… well would you believe him?

Here’s the fun thing: Even if we don’t believe him, even if we think the whole thing completely outrageous, there’s something subtle, but important going on:

If I learned one thing in Community Based Social Marketing class, it’s that the most assured way for people to change their attitudes is for them to change their behavior, even just a little bit, and to publicly commit to sustaining those changes. Whether Continental is wholeheartedly pursuing green measures for the betterment of the world or playing lip service to the trendiness of being green, the fact that they’ve publicly committed themselves to the cause will likely impact their decisions in the future.

In Jewish tradition, we believe that Acharei Hapeulot, Nimshechot Halevavot, that “Our hearts follow our actions.” If I’m not feeling close to my community, my tradition tells me to go out and do something for the community. If I don’t care for the poor, I’m to give to the poor. We’re even commanded to help our enemies with the heavy loads they carry on their backs.

Our whole religious system, in fact, is based on action, or Halakhot. I’m not asked to fervently believe until I taste being immersed in action. As CBSM contends, I’m likely to feel connected to my community, compassionate on the poor, and to favor reconciliation with foes, when I pursue actions that connect me with them. Could there be a better way to make peace than to help my enemy carry his load?

Ultimately, it won’t make a difference if Mr. Kellner is an environmentalist stuck in the wrong business or a good businessman in a world of environmentalists. Save actually going green, which in Mr. Kellner’s business might mean finding another job, publicly committing to the environment is probably the greenest thing he could have done.

All we need to do is to hold him to his commitment.

In all fairness to Continental, it seems they have made real efforts to maximize their fleets’ fuel economy, and now run planes that are 35% more fuel efficient than the ones they used in 1997. For more on Continental’s environmental policy, see http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/company/globalcitizenship/environment.aspx


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By Rabbi Julian Sinclair

How are we doing?

Not as well as you might think, according to the Happy Planet Index (HPI) which released it’s third annual ranking of nearly all the world’s countries last week.

The HPI is an alternative to GDP as a measure of national well-being. A country’s HPI score is calculated by multiplying together its life expectancy and reported subjective happiness survey scores and dividing the result by the country’s ecological footprint per person. The aim is to measure how much life and of what quality a country achieves proportionally to the ecological resources that it consumes.

The results are surprising. Costa Rica tops the table. The US comes in at number 114 out of 143 country’s measured. It’s outstanding wealth does not make Americans outstanding happy and requires an exorbitant amount of the earth’s resources to sustain. Israel is ranked around 70th, just above Britain.

The report’s lead author, Saamah Abdallah of the New Economics Foundation explains the rationale behind it.

“The HPI suggests that the path we have been following is, without exception, unable to deliver all three goals: high life satisfaction, high life expectancy and ‘one-planet living’. Instead we need a new development model that delivers good lives that don’t cost the Earth for all.”

The HPI is one of a number of indices that highlight the limitations of GDP as a measurement of welfare and aim to propose an alternative. Higher GDP is only correlated with increased happiness up to around $10,000 per person. After that point, there’s little connection between income and happiness. Furthermore, consumption of alcohol, drugs and medical care count as GDP gains. So do wars, strip mining, deforestation and commuting to work, although these things do not enhance overall well-being.

These indices are being developed by ecologcial economists, who argue that economics must be embedded with an understanding of the ecological context in which economies function. The Heschel Center together with the Van Leer Institute have such set up a research group in Ecological Economics (which I’m glad to be a part of) to bring this important body of thinking into the Israeli conversation. Hopefully one of the products will be a more accurate measure than GDP of how we’re really doing as a society. Stay tuned!

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Arnold Goldman has been impacting the evolution of solar power for three decades. His company, Brightsource Industries, is currently working on a solar field in California that will nearly double America’s solar energy output. Brightsource’s Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) at the Rotem Industrial Park in Israel is the largest solar energy facility in the Middle East.

Mr. Goldman is also a serious Kabbalist- a student of Jewish mysticism. In the following video, he explains his vision for the future of human energy usage: a policy inspired by the belief in the infinite power the world’s resources offer us, if only we use them properly. Mr. Goldman calls the his plan, “Fuel for Life.”

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2029901&dest=-1]

If you can’t view the video from this page, click here.

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In the following video, Jewish Climate Initiative Co-Founder, Dr. Michael Kagan, discusses the significance of the recent Blessing of the Sun and introduces The Seven Year Plan for the Jewish People on Climate Change and Sustainability, at the Vayehi Or: Values and Vision in Energy and Climate Change Workshop in Jerusalem. (More videos from the event on the way). Enjoy!

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2024089&dest=-1]

If you can’t view the video from this page, click here.

And Dr. Kagan’s Accompanying Presentation:

If you can’t view the presentation from this page, click here.

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By Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Two things were clear from attending the International Renewable Energy Conference that took place in Eilat this week.

The first is that Israel is now a world leader in clean energy.

The second is that there is a small but growing group of players in the field who see this not just as a huge business opportunity, (though it certainly is that), but also as an ethical, or spiritual mission.

Israeli leadership in the field was manifested by a list of “firsts”, “biggest evers,” and breakthrough technologies that were heralded immediately before and during the conference. Brightsource-Luz2 announced that it had signed a contract with Southern California Edison to build the largest ever solar thermal generating field, which will produce 1.3 gigawatts in California. (more…)

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