Eco-Friendly Batteries: Every Little Bit Helps

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
—Steve Jobs 

Often when searching for the next great idea to combat climate change, you have to look half-way around the world for ingenious solutions. But every once in a while it happens right in your own backyard.

Say hello to LEI Electronics.They have been a leading supplier of consumer electronics in Canada since 1988, and they also happen to be based in my home town of Barrie, Ontario where I still work today in my day job as a cardiologist.

One of their key products are called Eco Alkalines, the world’s first certified carbon neutral batteries. According to their website: “Every year, more than 296,120,000 Car Kilometers (equivalent) of CO2 are created by the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of Alkaline batteries in Canada. For every Eco Alkalines 4 AA battery pack sold, an average equivalent of 2.3 Car Kilometers worth of CO2 is saved.” Continue reading

Obama's New Climate Change Strategy

“We can’t drill our way out of the energy and climate challenges that we face.”
—President Barack Obama

Yesterday President Barack Obama announced his new climate change strategy at Georgetown University, one that will significantly limit pollution from all existing coal-fired power plants.

The President stated that the U.S. must use less “dirty energy,” waste less energy, and move toward cleaner sources of energy. It must also redouble its efforts to reach a new global agreement that will reduce carbon emissions with “concrete action” that he described as ambitious, inclusive and flexible.

And what about the Keystone XL pipeline? Continue reading

Obama to Announce Climate Change Plans June 25

“There’s no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change. But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can.”
—President Barack Obama

This past weekend, the White House announced that President Obama will be giving an important speech on climate at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013. In his words:

This Tuesday, I’ll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go—a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.

Obama has stated that his climate change plan will “reduce pollution, prepare the country for future climate impacts and place it at the front of international efforts to tackle the issue.” He and his administration previously pledged at the United Nations talks in Copenhagen in 2009 to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels, and many are expecting this speech will address precisely how that will be achieved.

Nat Keohane, Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund and a former White House climate advisor, has stated that there will likely be a set of policies aimed at boosting renewable sources of energy and imposing standards on coal power which generates 42 percent of electricity in the U.S. These can be accomplished through both incentives and regulation. Continue reading

Saving the Planet Requires Behavioural Science Too

Reduce, reuse, recycle. We say it all the time. We hear it all the time. And most of us try to do it all the time. But we’re never as good at it as we’d like to be.

So how do you change that? Alex Laskey may have the answer. He and his colleagues have been performing the largest social experiment ever and their conclusions are fascinating. How do you get people to do something as simple as turn off the lights to conserve their energy? Do you tell them it saves money? Helps the environment? Makes them better citizens? The answer might surprise you a bit.

I’d recommend you watch this TED talk with Laskey as he explains what they’ve found that makes a difference. It points out that every aspect of science has a role to play in making this planet a better place. Behavioural science is no exception.

Shouldn't "Grave Concern" Lead to Significant Action?

“We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low-carbon path afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science.”
—Statement from the G8 Leaders in Ireland

The final communique from the G8 leaders was released this week at the conclusion of their annual summit, this one taking place in Ireland. It’s not surprising that their joint statement speaks to climate change, given the importance of this global issue. Interestingly, climate change wasn’t even on the initial agenda for the two-day summit, something that led to major criticism of the British government as the host nation, particularly from France and Germany. The main topics for discussion were dominated by the war in Syria and global tax reforms. But climate change did manage to make its way into the final statement.

The world’s leaders have once again declared their commitment to making bold actions in order to tackle climate change. They stated that they have “grave concern” over the failure of our planet to decrease emissions to any significant level, pointing out the threats to the world’s economy that will result from climate change if we don’t do something.

So if the world’s political leaders know this to be true and can manage to express grave concern about it, then why don’t they act on it? Continue reading