Thinking Ethics was a project launched in Geneva to foster the debate about ethics. A few friends, fed up with only reading about abuses in the media, decided to hold a forward-looking seminar on five subjects: ethics and performance, ethics and knowledge, ethics and consciousness, ethics and disobedience and ethics in real time. If moral has to do with right and wrong, then ethics is its application in society. We believe that people need to talk about the subject to determine the level of ethics they want. The book Thinking Ethics, a result of the seminar, is to start the discussion. This blog is a contribution to the conversation. :
The International Standards Organisation ISO has just come out with a new standard, ISO19250:2010, for the detection of the pathogen salmonella bacteria. The UN states that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights. Their statistics show that 884 million people do not have access to clean drinking water and 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. A flurry of articles were published in April after the UN came out with the report that India has more cell phones than toilets. Check out the article in The Guardian here. Could it be that India has different priorities ? Or that somehow cell phones have become a basic necessity and have displaced sanitation in the Maslow pyramid...
Yes, we pollute even as we surf the web! I posted the amount of energy a Google search uses a while back, but here is a very comprehensive article on the matter, and more important, Google's response to it. Just a recap - two searches on Google are the equivalent of boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.
I just came across this website and 20 minute video of The Story of Stuff. It explains the chain of consumption, from extraction, to production, to consuption to waste disposal. It shows the environmental and social impact of the "American way of life". Also gives some recommendations of what individuals can do - besides writing your representative in Congress.
The Chairman of Nestlé group, Peter Brabeck is calling for a tax on water to reduce wasting it. He made a proposal at a Forum on food, water and development, calling for a limit of 25 liters per day (about 6 gallons) per person. Above that limit, people should pay for water.
My first reaction was that this was selfserving - he sells water - expensive water too. And his competition is of course tap water - for free. But what really blew my socks off is the limit he set - 25 liters per day per person. I checked out water consumption per person per country - and this is 3 times less than the daily use in China !!!! Seems a bit far fetched to me.
The only issue I have with this article, is that it is strictly from a CO2 generation point of view. And the thing with the environment and eating meat, is that you have also to take into account the water consumption of cattle. You need water to grow cereals to feed to the cattle, who also drink water. So besides the amount of CO2 that the cattle produce, you also need to take into account the water consumption. At the end of the day there is a factor of 50 between the water needed to "produce" one kilo of meat and one kilo of bread. This is a complex problem, and we need a systems dynamics approach to it, not just looking at one parameter. And yeah, we should all eat less meat - it is also healthier
I do not believe there is such a thing as clean coal. I do know that some coal is "cleaner" than others, but it still leaves a hugh footprint. Given our energy dependence, and the availability of this coal, the problem will be with us for a while.
A good impratial argument is laid out in this excellent report on clean coal in Ethical Corporation.
Rap video clips used to be a music style, somewhat of a protest. They are coming mainstream. Be it in politics, the "yes we can" video by Black Eyed Peas of Barack Obama's speech of the same name, or to pass a message about an emergency number as done by the Geneva fire fighters "project 118". The one from the CERN (European physics institute in Geneva Switzerland) actually explains the Large Hadon Collider and the search for the Higgs particle (view here) and is a very good example of the vulgarisation of science, as well as helping to promote the image with the young public (we need more students in maths and science!). The Swiss supermarket cooperative COOP financed one "for the only earth we have" by the Swiss rapper Stress (view here) on sustainable development and fair trade. The really cool thing about these clips, besides the fun way they have of getting their point across, is the viral propagation possibilities. - thank you YouTube!
The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by experts at Yale and Columbia Universities has been published, and the winners are: Switzerland, Sweden Norway, Finnland and Costa Rica. On the bottom of the list are Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Angola and Niger. Full list here.
I loved this article about the results on Dot Earth by Andrew Revkin "the greenest of them all", and especially by Felicity's interpretation of the results, which gives a perspective on why some companies stay grouped at the bottom or top of the list.
Guerrilla gardening is becoming of age - after the UK and Canada, it is now hitting Paris. Guerrilla gardening is political gardening, a form of non-violent direct action practiced by environmentalists. Wikipedia has a definition here. Try the blog www.guerrillagardening.org as a resource for illicit acts of cultivation in a war against neglect of public space. Or a softer version of urban adventure and growing food on www.primalseeds.org/guerilla.htm. Well it is a form of protest, and although it is probably illegal from a land rights perspective, it is way better than tags. I for one hope it catches on!