Tag Archives: policy

The facts about global warming, they tell their own story

Sometimes it helps to have the facts. They present their own story and make it easier for you to understand the problem.

Here are two sets of facts from the EPA’s 2012 Inventory on United States Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The first shows emissions by source:

  1. Energy – 87%
  2. Agriculture – 6.3%
  3. Industrial Process – 4.4%
  4. Waste (landfills) – 1.9%
  5. Solvents and other produces – 0.1%

 

Probably not what you expected. Our dominant method of creating energy is the problem. And that is through the use fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation. To get global warming under control we need a massive shift in energy policy (i.e. clean energy).

That’s important but if you look at emissions by end user a different story emerges:

  1. Manufacturing – 30%
  2. Homes – 18%
  3. Personal Cars – 17%
  4. Business – 17%
  5. Farming – 8%
  6. Freight Trucks – 6%
  7. Airplanes – 2%

 

To understand this you need to keep in mind that it’s the person buying the product or driving the car that is ultimately responsible for the emission. That is what these numbers show and they are often overlooked. Which is sad because they convey what you can do, right now, to have an impact.

It is not about cars and electricity like most think. Although they still are important. Rather, it’s the stuff we buy (manufacturing) and our habits at home and at work that cover 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions.

This is why I like the facts. They tell their own story. In this case, it’s that you – one person – can change your habits and have a huge impact on global warming.

 

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Reforms in foster care showing good results – children in foster care drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.

Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.

 

Source: The Washington Post - Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times

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Egypt’s president to choose woman, Christian VPs

Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will appoint a woman as one of his vice presidents and a Christian as another, his policy adviser told CNN.

“For the first time in Egyptian history — not just modern but in all Egyptian history — a woman will take that position,” Ahmed Deif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential Cabinet.”

“The role of women in Egyptian society is clear,” Morsi told CNN weeks before the runoff election. “Women’s rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights, just like men. There shouldn’t be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that … based on the constitution and the law.”

 

More on this storyEgypt’s new president to pick woman, Christian VPs

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Apple, Amazon, & Microsoft build data centers around dirty energy

The current explosion in cloud computing offered by major IT companies is driving significant new demand for dirty energy like coal and nuclear power, according to a new report from Greenpeace International.

The report, “How Clean is Your Cloud?” shows a growing split within the tech industry between companies that are taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy, like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who lag behind by choosing to build their growing fleets of data centres to be powered by coal and nuclear energy.

“When people around the world share their music or photos on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst. “Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are building data centres powered by coal and acting like their customers won’t know or won’t care.”

The report research found that if the cloud were a country its electricity demand would currently rank 5th in the world, and is expected to triple by 2020.

“While many IT companies have made great strides in efficiency, that’s only half the picture – they need to make sure their energy comes from clean sources,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst.

Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritising renewable energy access when siting their data centres, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers.

 

keep readingApple, Amazon, & Microsoft choose dirty energy

Why do people make choices against their best interests

“Freakonomics” was the book that made the public believe the dismal science has something interesting to say about how people act in the real world. But “Nudge” was the one that got policy wonks excited. The book, first published in 2008, is about the potential for behavioural economics to improve the effectiveness of government.

Behavioural economists have found that all sorts of psychological or neurological biases cause people to make choices that seem contrary to their best interests. The idea of nudging is based on research that shows it is possible to steer people towards better decisions…

Very interesting, especially with the results of these trials:

In one trial, a letter sent to non-payers of vehicle taxes was changed to use plainer English, along the line of “pay your tax or lose your car”. In some cases the letter was further personalised by including a photo of the car in question. The rewritten letter alone doubled the number of people paying the tax; the rewrite with the photo tripled it.

A study into the teaching of technical drawing in French schools found that if the subject was called “geometry” boys did better, but if it was called “drawing” girls did equally well or better.

Research into why people did not take up financial incentives to reduce energy consumption by insulating their homes found one possibility was the hassle of clearing out the attic. A nudge was designed whereby insulation firms would offer to clear the loft, dispose of unwanted items and return the rest after insulating it. This example of what behavioural economists call “goal substitution”—replacing lower energy use with cleaning out the attic—led to a threefold increase in take-up of an insulation grant.

In one trial, green arrows pointing to stairs were put next to railway-station escalators, in the hope of encouraging people to take the healthier option. This had almost no effect. The other experiment had a series of green footprints leading to rubbish bins. These signs reduced littering by 46% during a controlled experiment in which wrapped sweets were handed out.

via Free Exchange, The Economist

 

Maybe they can stop using the term “taxes” and call it “paying for the military so we don’t get bombed.”

 

Check out the book – Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, happiness

You can reuse all new content on Quora

Quora is a fantastic resource for and I often want to share the info I find. With that in mind I found the following copyright rules on the site:

This is an official Quora policy that reflects the agreed upon conventions of the community

You can reuse all new content on Quora by publishing it anywhere on the web, as long as you link back to the original content on Quora. There are some more details to this specified at http://www.quora.com/about/tos. We wrote this with the interests of contributors in mind:

Subject to these Terms, Quora gives you a worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to re-post any of the Content on Quora anywhere on the rest of the web provided that the Content was added to the Service after April 22, 2010, and provided that the user who created the content has not explicitly marked the content as not for reproduction, and provided that you: (a) do not modify the Content; (b) attribute Quora with a human and machine-followable link (an A tag) linking back to the page displaying the original source of the content on quora.com; (c) upon request, either by Quora or a user, remove the user’s name from Content which the user has subsequently made anonymous; (d) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable effort to update a particular piece of Content to the latest version on quora.com; and (e) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable attempt to delete Content that has been deleted on quora.com.

Pretty cool.

I also learned that there is a feature authors can use if they want to keep their answers from being published elswhere:

Not for reproduction. The “Not for reproduction” option opts a user’s answer out of the normal reuse license that Quora grants to everyone. If you’re posting about an NFR answer there is not a restriction. However, if you’re copying the contents of an NFR answer to somewhere else on Quora or to anywhere else on the web, the author of the answer might be able to stop you under copyright law, depending on whether your use qualifies as fair use. We don’t police this; it’s the same as if you wrote a blog post that included the contents of someone else’s blog post.