Sylvia Earle and Sam Low Win Cronkite Award as Mission Blue Debuts on Martha’s Vineyard by Martha Shaw

What do Walter Cronkite, Sylvia Earle and Sam Low all have in common? They have mastered the might of media on behalf of the sea.

The 2014 Walter Cronkite Award was bestowed on ocean all-stars Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Sam Low by the MVYLI, Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative, which honors people who create positive social change in the world through the power of media.

Like the award recipients, Walter Cronkite was a champion for the 71 percent of Earth’s surface that is the sea—our omnipotent, astonishing, complex, generous and sorely neglected neighbor who rules our planet and keeps us terrestrials alive. Since the industrial revolution, the ocean has been polluted, and literally put through the meat grinder as never before in its 4 billion year history. Walter stirred the hearts of people, young and old, to take an interest not only in the beauty and bounty of our ocean, but in its health and future. The Walter Cronkite Award recognizes leaders who provide this level of inspiration to today’s youth.

Award recipient Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is a world-famous ocean pioneer and former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who has spent her life exploring the world’s oceans and sharing her boundless curiosity for what lies beneath the surface of sea—once a glass ceiling for women scientists. In 2009, she formed Mission Blue as a collaborative platform to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas large enough to save and restore the “blue heart” of the planet, known as Hope Spots.

“We are at the sweet spot of human history,” said Dr. Earle. “More has been learned about the ocean in the last decade than throughout all of human history. For the first time, we have access to information about our ocean as never before. Now we can actually do something. What will we do with this new knowledge? As a new generation that knows more than anyone has ever known before, what will you do with your future?”

“Walter Cronkite epitomized the spirit of what went up (to space) and what went down (to sea) and as a young scientist that inspired me,” said Earle. “I see his presence is still alive and well on Martha’s Vineyard. I am honored to be receiving this award with Sam Low, who has offered such a boatload of information about the ocean to all of us. I bow low, to Sam Low.”

The co-recipient was Dr. Sam Low, an anthropologist and award-winning storyteller dedicated to island people in their quest to raise awareness of our planet’s fragility, of which islands are most vulnerable. His film, The Navigators—Pathfinders of the Pacific, and recent book,Hawaiki Rising—Hokule’a Nanoa Thompson and the Hawaiian Renaissance, tell the story of the Polynesian settlement of the Pacific and ancient mariners who use native intelligence and natural signs to navigate our ocean. Low has both Vineyard and Hawaiian roots, and will join a global voyage in an ancient Polynesian canoe with the Polynesian Voyagers Society to share and celebrate the ancient wisdom of the sea.

Following the awards presentation, young leaders from MVYLI remarked on how the ocean was bringing everyone together, particularly island people, and shared their ideas for creating a more sustainable blue planet.

At sundown, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival set up a big screen on Menemsha Beach to premiere Mission Blue, the remarkable and breathtakingly beautiful documentary about Dr. Sylvia Earle’s life. The film was directed by Vineyard filmmaker Bob Nixon, and Fisher Stevens, who followed Earle with their crew around the world ocean for more than five years. Island residents and summer visitors laid blankets on the sand to be among the first to see the film, before it goes up on NetFlix on Aug. 15.

Native Vineyard fisherman and advocate for sustainable fisheries, Buddy Vanderhoop, shared his admiration for the mission of Dr. Earle and his support for marine protected areas to allow the depleting local fish population to spawn and populate again, and to prevent massive fish factory ships from destroying what is left. Dr. Earle promised to return to Martha’s Vineyard and work together toward this, in light of NOAA’s recent invitation to communities across the nation to nominate national marine sanctuaries.


Ocean all-stars make a splash in Monaco at BLUE Ocean Film Festival

Monaco and Tampa Bay set the stage for ocean film and entertainment


Video Link: HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco Attends the BLUE Ocean Mini-Fest. (VIDEO)


(Monaco) Oct 6  – If necessity is the mother of invention, then the pressing needs of our ocean explain the spawning of innovation at BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit (BLUE). This annual multi-disciplinary summit is a convergence of bright minds with big hearts focused on expediting ocean conservation – now when it’s needed most.


BLUE – a watering hole for ocean aficionados


BLUE sets in motion a mix of ocean all-stars mobilized by a supportive environment of breathtaking (and sometimes gut-wrenching) films, creative ideas and new technology.


Inventors, leaders, filmmakers, explorers, producers, artists, scientists, and celebrities gather to see what’s new and share thoughts on how to amplify the voice of the ocean. BLUE has created an ecosystem of diverse intelligence with one mission – to use the power of entertainment to educate and inspire ocean stewardship.


Chief executive and visionary, Deborah Kinder co-created BLUE’s platform for showcasing exceptional achievement in the ocean world, which is now acting as a springboard for rapid collaboration across cultures and disciplines in the interest of a healthy ocean. Ms. Kinder explained that working for a healthy ocean is in our own best interest. “I learned that ocean issues urgently need our attention and not just for the well being of future generations, but for the health of our own children. If humanity’s life support system is lost, little else matters.  I believe film and entertainment are the most powerful tools we have for reaching a large number ofpeople in a short amount of time, hopefully before our only choice is crisis management,” she said.


Like our fellow species in the sea, we are interconnected and our web of life is fragile and interdependent. BLUE takes lessons from nature to help build its ecology of ocean professionals working together to protect the planet’s blue heart, on which life on Earth is dependent.


Mini-BLUE in Monaco


A one-day version of its larger week long BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit, a mini-BLUE was held at the world-renowned Oceanographic Museum of Monaco last week, where BLUE’s new partnership with the Museum and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation was launched. Long standing defender of protective ocean policy, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco endorsed BLUE’s mission to use the power of film, photography, entertainment and science to educate, empower and inspire ocean stewardship across the globe. “This is as much a moral duty as a vital necessity, because the risks hanging over the oceans are today so pressing,” he said.


The setting was fitting as the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco has played a key role in ocean stewardship since 1906, when it was first conceived of by ocean explorer HSH Prince Albert I. From 1957 to 1988, the Museum thrived under the directorship of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Today the Museum’s Director General, M. Robert Calcagno, is at the helm and joined a panel discussion at the mini-BLUE.


Panel explores the delicate balance of urgency and hope


Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques, moderated BLUE’s panel of ocean luminaries. She asked M. Calcagno to cite an example in history when the ocean won out against all odds. He described the time when the Calypso vessel showed up to protest an international agreement that was about to be signed that would allow mining in Antarctica. “At considerable risk, Jacques managed to get it protected until 2048,” he said.


SE M. Bernard Fautrier, CEO of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, shared the success story of Reserve Du Larvotto, a marine protected area that could be seen from the terrace and was established in 1976. He described a new collaboration sparked by BLUE with Catlin Seaview Survey. The project is filming this underwater environment in 360 degrees which will not only allow armchair explorers to experience the shoals, but help scientists to benchmark changes over time.


Champion for the ocean and past-director of NOAA, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, was also asked for good news. As an example of hope she referred to 32 fish stocks that have been rebuilt and to the European Union, which has reformed its foreign fishing policy. However, she didn’t want to give the impression that all is well, or necessarily heading in the right direction. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see both the beauty and degradation of the oceans myself,” she said. “There are so many opportunities for government and for businesses to be choosing a more sustainable future – but in many places in the world that’s not the case. All people who make decisions should know the consequences of their actions. Films can inspire them… What we really need is a more cohesive sustained drumbeat of urgency and hope. I’m so excited that BLUE exists to see this on a regular basis. Majesty and magic, but also action.”


The notion that we only protect what we love, and don’t protect what we don’t know about, resonated among the BLUE panelists. M. Didier Noirot, Emmy award-winning cinematographer of BBC/Discovery epic series Planet Earth and Blue Planet, made a case for film as a means for building passion, and for sounding the alarm. “Emotion cannot be shared just by wanting to. Getting close to the subject evokes emotions. Our lenses make it possible to get close to the animals.”


DisneyNature’s founder and general manager, Jean-Francois Camilleri, declared that it is the responsibility of filmmakers to share information and educate. He then compared film to television. “There is less immersion in television than in film. Though there are less people in theaters, films get more media coverage – people find themselves sharing and comparing feelings and emotions. They can launch discussion of a topic that remains the subject of discussion far after the film,” he said.


Manager of Google Ocean Program, Jenifer Austin Foulkes, demonstrated Liquid Galaxy, which uses consumer-contributed, crowd-sourced, mapping to create a dramatic environment in which to explore the blue planet from anywhere. According to Ms. Foulkes, the power of visual imagery put together the right way can make a huge difference, like posting video clips on Google Earth. She gave the example of a view of a turtle near Heron Island that had over a billion media impressions. When features are added to click and donate to a nonprofit that is working on the cause, this has the potential to move people toward action.


Shari Sant Plummer, BLUE advisor and ocean philanthropist, has founded and/or served on dozens of ocean conservation boards including Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue. She offers the scattered ocean community her knack for connecting the dots. On the panel, Ms. Sant Plummer shared an effective use of film to teach locals what is at stake in their own backyards. She pointed out that when a reef system is failing, natives may be the last to know why. Films can change that by motivating artisan fishermen to adopt bans on destructive practices that lead to the collapse of their livelihoods, and their food supply. Efforts like these have resulted in bans on commercial diving for lobsters, while targeted media exposure has helped to ban shark finning in nine countries since the first BLUE Ocean Film Festival in 2009.


In closing remarks, HSH Prince Albert II, who also participated in BLUE 2012 in Monterey, California last year, emphasized both the need to shift global consciousness and the power of BLUE to help do this. “This event uses the power of film, photography, entertainment and science to educate, empower and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe,” he said. “To awaken consciousness toward environmental protection more effectively, our best weapons are those that win over our hearts and minds.”


Within a week of the mini-BLUE in Monaco, cross-pollination of ideas and technology among participants had already helped to expand existing programs and create new ones that bring the beauty and the plight of the ocean to the public in new and engaging ways.


BLUE On Tour impacts millions around the world


Beyond BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summits, ongoing BLUE On Tour reaches hundreds of millions of people around the world through media impressions, outreach, and tailored festivals. The traveling show offers local communities the opportunity to host entertaining and inspiring events that feature winning selections from international film competitions and a chance to meet the filmmakers, and scientists. BLUE On Tour has traveled to China, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the USA, and been covered in over 800 media outlets.

“BLUE On Tour enables groups to host their own customized festival event with selections from BLUE’s extensive film catalog and network of people,” said Charlotte Vick who works with BLUE and is also curator of Explore the Ocean in Google Earth.

The challenge is to help people make a connection between their own health and the health of our ocean, even though the majority of the 7 billion people living on Earth have never seen it – or a living fish. As our population approaches 10 billion in this century, with most growth within 100 miles of the sea, the job of programs like BLUE On Tour to reach out and inspire more people to adopt new habits is critical.  BLUE On Tour benefits by sponsors that support the outreach, and sponsors benefit by the media exposure in a symbiotic relationship.


BLUE to alternate between two bicoastal homes – Monaco and St. Petersburg, Florida


Deborah Kinder announced that BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit will alternate between Monaco and St. Petersburg, Florida beginning in 2014. Given that Monaco is a global nexus for all things ocean under the leadership of its Head of State, and St. Petersburg is a vibrant center for oceanography, the two coastal enclaves are perfect backdrops for BLUE.


“BLUE will showcase on odd years in Monaco beginning in 2015, and in St. Petersburg, Florida on even years beginning next year November 3rd-9th, 2014,” said Ms. Kinder. “I am inspired by these two communities’ level of commitment to the one ocean that connects us all. Our upcoming festivals are going to be amazing gatherings of extraordinary people that you don’t want to miss.”


Find more information at



Deborah Kinder,


Submitted by Martha Shaw, journalist and founder of Earth Advertising, which supports the growth of sustainable businesses that protect the planet above and below ‘see’ level.



How to Spur Millions Toward Energy Efficiency by Martha Shaw

Visualized Energy Solutions by Zerofootprint Inspire Action

Posted: Oct 10, 2012 – 08:04 PM EST


NEW YORK, Oct. 10 /CSRwire/ - Zerofootprint Inc., a leader in energy information for the public, announced today that Oxford Properties Group has selected its VELO™ platform to help make their energy efficiency programs more successful; by engaging tenants. Real-time energy usage displays on big screens in Oxford’s Royal Bank Plaza lobby, show how the building’s 7500 occupants consume energy throughout the day, bringing awareness to their impact.

The effect is significant, as occupants and their guests can see the 2.1 million square foot complex’s energy usage in real time. The Sustainability Director of Oxford Properties, Darryl Neate, said, “We are proud to offer leading energy efficiency programs to our tenants through Oxford’s Sustainable Intelligence platform. The success of these programs depends on engaging people, and Zerofootprint’s VELO™ is helping us provide real-time energy information and conservation tips to our tenants in an easy-to-understand, compelling way.”

When people see their energy usage, a light goes on. Then they think about turning one off. Zerofootprint creates products that catalyze these real changes by engaging people in what they are using and their own impact. “Changing tenant behavior is the one remaining untapped resource for energy efficiency in buildings. Our implementation at Oxford sets a new standard for tenant engagement, based on actual usage,” said Ron Dembo, Founder and CEO of Zerofootprint. “We are excited to be part of Oxford’s renowned efforts in sustainability and energy efficiency. It is a leader in sustainable buildings and we are very pleased to be an integral part of Oxford’s groundbreaking energy programs for commercial buildings.”

Zerofootprint’s VELObill“App for Energy” honored at White House Energy Datapalooza.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu honored the WINNERS of the Department of Energy’s inaugural “Apps for Energy” challenge at the Energy Datapalooza, including Zerofootprint’s VELObill™. It won the Grand Prize Popular Choice Award in the Green Button “Apps for Energy” Competition. VELObill makes it easier than ever to visualize energy usage data, compare it to peers, and make a plan to save energy.

Zerofootprint has been working with U.S. Government agencies such as the Department of Energy to harness the power of Green Button data to help Americans understand and reduce their utility bills. This commitment to U.S. clean energy continues with the Energy Data Initiative, making solutions available to integrate data from Energy Star, utilities, and private sector vendors that help Americans better understand and reduce their energy consumption. Solutions include Zerofootprint’s “Negawatt” and “Improve Your Move” solutions built on its award-winning VELO platform.

“The Energy Data Initiative provides an incredible opportunity to help Americans make critical decisions regarding energy use,” said Zerofootprint’s Ron Dembo. “We will continue our commitment to this and other U.S. Government programs that promote the sharing and management of energy information to create value and jobs in America.”

If your organization is moving people toward energy efficiency, find out more about Zerofootprint’s winning consumer engagement programs at

About Zerofootprint

Zerofootprint shows energy in ways that help people understand it—and once that light goes on for people, they start to think about turning one off. With VELO™, Zerofootprint enables companies to create more effective energy programs, and has helped hundreds of companies around the world. For more information visit

About the Energy Data Initiative

The Obama Administration has launched the Energy Data Initiative, an Administration-wide effort to “liberate” government data, and voluntarily contributed non-government data, to harness the power of American ingenuity to solve pressing energy challenges. The goal is to fuel entrepreneurs with newly available and previously untapped data, spurring new products and services that help families and businesses save money on utility bills and at the pump, protect the environment, and ensure a safe and reliable energy future. Find out more at:


Missing Voices: Green Business Leaders Discuss Representation at Rio+20

Missing Voices: Green Business Leaders Discuss Representation at Rio+20
Sustainability and Green Leaders Meet with United Nations to offer representation at Rio+20.

By Martha Shaw and Aman Singh

Nearly 100 sustainable business leaders crowded onto the 10th floor of the UN Church Center in New York City on May 1st to join a conversation with Chantal Line Carpentier, Sustainable Development Officer and Major Groups Program Coordinator of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and other UN representatives.

The topic: To hear from the “missing voices” of over 200,000 entrepreneurs from organizations including the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), Social Venture Network, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), B Lab, CSRwire, Green America and ‘buy local’ green business networks.

The meeting was hosted by The Temple of Understanding, and organized by Martha Shaw, to explore ways that founders of socially- and environmentally-responsible ‘triple bottom line” businesses might bring their voices to Rio+20, and beyond.

“We Must Raise Our Voice Now”
ASBC’s David Levine started the conversation by stressing that the gathered entrepreneurs are conscious of their global counterparts who are also running businesses that presuppose green practices and help serve social needs while making money.

“Whether they are social enterprises, micro enterprises, women’s groups or development groups, they all carry the same sensibilities of a triple bottom line. They are finding a balance between profits, social and environmental goals,” he said. “This voice is missing in our country today because a monolithic voice led by multinationals dominates all dialogues.”

Levine ended by emphasizing that this is the opportunity for the entrepreneurs to market their leadership and present their pioneering work on a global stage as a way of creating shared value. “This voice is new and we must raise it,” he ended.

“Define Sustainable and Green Business”
Green Map System’s Wendy Brawer picked up where Levine left by adding that until we define what “sustainable business” means, creating this coherent voice will be hard.

Jumping into the dialogue, CSRwire CEO Joe Sibilia made it clear that “any business that integrates the human condition into its operations, whether you call it humanity or spirituality, is sustainable. These entrepreneurs are using business to create a values-driven and sustainable world,” he said. “Financial gains cannot be the only objective. It’s that simple.”

Eco-preneurs at Rio+20
Temple of Understanding’s Grove Harris interjected by adding that it is “practices like the ones Joe is highlighting that need to be voiced at Rio+20. It is important to bring these issues to the table by showing business practices that manifest in social value.” She also added that traditionally, non-governmental organizations have not proven sophisticated enough to support our future and voices. “We need business to be there.”

More examples of mission-driven business enterprises solving many social and environmental problems, including the eradication of poverty, were offered, as was a comparison to the restraints of multinational corporations who are bound by law to act in the best interest of stockholder profits.

Though Sibilia, Harris, Brawer and B Lab’s Peter Strugatz offered several examples of supply chain relationships among green businesses and corporations going green, they also pointed out that many other models exist for ways the world can do business outside the restrictions of a corporation.

United Nations: Collaborate & Lead The Conversation
After hearing everyone out, Chantal Line Carpentier, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Officer and Major Groups Program Coordinator, took the floor to urge the attendees to work with the UN in representing their issues at Rio+20.

She also emphasized clarifying ambiguous language about sustainability and suggested that the sector come to an agreement on what “private public partnerships mean” and “how you can help influence policy and regulatory frameworks.”

“Consider this as a strong call for leadership. There is a lot of talk about business doing more but how? Show us, offer best practices, define CSR, and align practices with the United Nations Global Compact guidelines,” she said.

Carpentier also recommended that the entrepreneurs make an effort to demystify the language around lifecycles, supply chain analysis and sustainability.

Finally, Tess Mateo, an advisor to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), pointed out that the Women, and Indigenous People Major Groups would be good allies and recommended that we remain cognizant of working together with the other enterprises in promoting our voice on the global stage.

Who owns the fish? UN meetings focus on eminent tuna collapse.

Out of sight and out of mind, the most valuable fisheries on Earth are up for grabs.

May 8, 2012, United Nations- It’s called ABNJ, which stands for Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, and it makes up 64% of the surface of the world’s oceans. Yet, this part of the planet has no protection from the massive destruction by private interest fishing operations. At the UN today, a Program on Global Sustainable Fisheries Management and Biodiversity in ABNJ was introduced to protect the biodiversity of this area, which some consider to be the last global “commons” on Earth.

Organized by the Global Ocean Forum, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about 30 experts from those groups as well as UNEP, the World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, International Sustainable Seafood Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy gathered to share the details of a new program that will devote $44 million dollars to manage the long-term health of this frontier which is depreciating rapidly. Throughout history, it’s been “every man for himself” out there beyond the watchful eyes of citizens, giving way to total anarchy dominated by highly sophisticated $10 billion dollar/year fishing operations equal to 6.3 million tons caught per year.

While land degradation is visible, ocean degradation is invisible and this makes the task of protecting our high seas particularly challenging, as the area is unmonitored. The effect of loss of biodiversity in the open ocean, however, is very much felt in the decline of fisheries in coastal waters.

In the decade following the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, fishing on the high seas became a major international problem. The Convention gave all states the freedom to fish without regulations on the high seas, but coastal states, to which the Law of the Sea conferred exclusive economic rights including the right to fish within 200 miles off their shores, began to complain that fleets fishing on the high seas were reducing catches in their domestic waters.

The problem centered on fish populations that “straddle” the boundaries of countries’ 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs), such as cod off Canada’s eastern coast and pollock in the Bering Sea, and highly migratory species like tuna and swordfish, which move between EEZs and the high seas.

By the early 1990s, most stocks of commercially valued fish were running low, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As catches became smaller, coastal states complained that the industrial-scale fishing operations on the high seas were undermining their efforts to conserve and revitalize fish stocks.

There is a history of violence between fishing vessels and coastal states, most notable during the “cod wars” of the 1970s. Several countries, including Britain and Norway, sent naval ships to protect fishing fleets on the high seas. Spanish fishers clashed with British and French drift netters in what came to be known as the “tuna wars.” Before the UN Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks was finalized in October 1995, several coastal states had fired shots at foreign fleets. In the northern Atlantic, Canada seized and confiscated a Spanish boat fishing in international waters just beyond the Canadian 200-mile limit.

At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, known as the first Earth Summit, governments called on the United Nations to find ways to conserve fish stocks and prevent international conflicts over fishing on the high seas.

The coastal states most concerned during the negotiations about the impact of high seas fishing on their domestic harvest included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Iceland and New Zealand, complaining that only six countries were responsible for 90 per cent of deep sea fishing: Russia, Japan, Spain, Poland, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan province of China. The United States also caught a significant amount of fish, especially tuna, and China soon became a major fishing nation.

Companies began to use refrigerated factory trawlers or “mother ships” that allowed fleets to travel vast distances from the home country and to stay at sea for longer periods without having to return to shore. What quickly became a human rights issue, these fleets undermined the livelihoods of local fishers, depriving poor people in coastal areas of a primary source of sustenance.

On the table for Rio+20 next month, though not without conflict, is an end to government fishing subsidies, considered to be as damaging as fossil fuel subsidies. No agreement has been reached here, nor has a proposed phase-out of all deep-sea bottom-trawl fishing on the high seas by 2015. This is called for on the basis that no deep-sea bottom trawl vessels or fleets have demonstrated that they can fish deep-sea species sustainably and prevent damage to deep-sea ecosystems.

Also at the negotiating table is a call for labeling, and for seafood buyers and retailers to only buy and sell fish from deep-sea fisheries that have clearly demonstrated no harm to deep-sea ecosystems.

Today, as global fish stocks decline, seafood becomes an increasingly expensive item for the rich and a rarity for the poor. With the world population expected to reach 8.2 billion by 2030, the planet will have to feed an additional 1.5 billion people, 90 percent of whom will be living in developing countries many of whom depend on local fisheries.

Find out more about GEF/FAO Program on Global Sustainable Fisheries Management and Biodiversity Conservation in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction here, and other issues on the negotiating table for Rio+20 here.

US and Canadian Youth Demand Generational Justice

The U.S. youth at the climate talks are making a big play for justice on behalf of their generation during the last days of COP 17, claiming that the U.S. negotiators are putting their futures at risk.

Abigail Borah, a student from Middlebury College interrupted lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern’s concluding plenary speech on Thursday, pinpointing members of the U.S. Congress for impeding the progress of the summit. She also made a passionate plea to her government leaders to join the rest of the world in a fair and binding treaty.

Claiming that she was speaking on behalf of her country, Borah said that the negotiators themselves “cannot speak on behalf of the United States of America” because “the obstructionist Congress has shackled a just agreement and delayed ambition for far too long.”

Borah was ejected after completing her speech to voracious rounds of applause from the entire plenary of global leaders.

Ready for Change

Her actions, however aggressive, reflect the growing feeling of injustice among educated American youth who feel that their leaders have turned a blind eye to the facts at the expense of their own future on this planet. Afraid that each step of inaction will force them to suffer the worsening climate challenges that previous generations have been unable or unwilling to address, they are resorting to disruption.

Their list of complains isn’t restricted to inaction.

They also hold the U.S. responsible for foul play and claim that a few outspoken and misdirected Congress members, who continue to successfully hijack negotiations, are blocking progress. This has put off urgent pollution reduction targets until the year 2020, jeopardizing billions.

(Lack of) Public Activism

Some of them also believe that the American public is not outspoken enough. Mind you, these are kids seem to have done their homework: Overwhelmingly conclusive research shows that waiting until 2020 to begin aggressive emissions reduction will likely cause irreversible damage and suffering to the world they will inherit, including destruction of air and water, more severe weather patterns, worsening droughts, devastation to American communities, and a dismal outlook for the American economy.

“2020 is too late to wait,” urged Borah.

Earlier in the week, the head of the European Parliament’s delegation to the summit Jo Leinen expressed his frustration by the stalemate, also referred to by another official as a “ping-pong game” between the U.S. and China that is unacceptable and intolerable.

Leinen, who chairs the European Parliament’s environmental committee, noted that China had for the first time indicated that it might be willing to take on binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – but only after 2020. However, he did not see any such commitment from the U.S. “The one is not yet ready, and the other is not willing,” Leinen said.

On Borrowed Time

Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, argues that “the Cancun commitments, and the ones made at Copenhagen (in 2009) cover 80 percent of global emissions and while they are not legally binding, they are politically and morally binding.”

Yet, the U.S. youth at COP17 claim that they are inheriting a big mess.

“An impossible burden is being put upon us,” says MJ Shiao, who is 26 years old and is a member of the youth delegation SustainUS. He thinks the U.S. operates on fear-driven politics rather than science and solutions.

“They are borrowing time at the expense of my generation. If we don’t peak our emissions in the next five years, what are we supposed to do? The main thing is that we just want to have a fighting chance by the time we are in positions of leadership.”

Canadian youth also made their presence felt at COP17 with several getting ejected earlier this week as Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent delivered his opening address. Just as Kent began his speech, six stood and turned away from the Minister revealing the message “Turn your back on Canada” prominently displayed on their shirts. These young people have challenged their leaders’ negotiation strategies, the close relationship between Canada’s climate policy and dirty fossil fuels, and the lobbying to lower fuel quality regulations to allow the expansion of the Alberta tar sands.

At COP 17, climate injustice is being addressed from all sides, including gender, race, geography, poverty, and the rights of nature itself.

The world’s youth are recognizing the magnification within their lifetime of all of the above, which is denying them the kind of world that has been enjoyed by those making — or not making — the decisions.

There might be hope. COP president, South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane assured that COP 17 would involve younger delegations. Already, more than 150 of them have been accredited. “The decisions we make today will not affect us, you will inherit that legacy,” she emphasized.

And the nearly 200 countries at COP17 have reached a deadline to broker a deal on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Connie Hedegaard, European climate change commissioner, says that countries unwilling to make commitments for the years to come are taking on ‘an almost unbearable responsibility’ for consequences that are sure to prove catastrophic.

Readers: Will the U.S. youth’s activism be enough to nudge the status quo?

The future of clean technology scaling up through innovative financial

The future of clean technology scaling up through innovative financial models

ategory: Environment

The future of clean technology: scaling up through innovative financial models


By CSRwire Contributing Writer Martha Shaw

Five hundred cleantech industry leaders and entrepreneurs have gathered for three days in New York City for the Cleantech Forum: Cleantech’s Scalable Future? Developing the Winning Financing Models of the Next Decade. Evident in the discussions and panels is an increase in representation from materials, water, recycling, transportation and waste companies.

“There have been significant changes since 2009,” says Richard Youngman, managing director of Cleantech Group’s Global Research. “We are seeing growing diversification of innovations beyond renewable energy and efficiency technologies. The wider issues of resource scarcity are starting to gain attention and traction.”

Highlighted is the release of The Global Cleantech 100: A Barometer of the Changing Face of Global Cleantech Innovation. The report is a list of the world’s most promising private cleantech companies – according to a weighted collective opinion of hundreds of industry insiders from around the world in the cleantech community.

“The Global Cleantech 100 list represents the most rigorous, serious attempt made yet to provide a scorecard of the progress being made by cleantech companies,” says Stephan Dolezalek, CleanTech Group Leader at VantagePoint Ventures.

According to the report, in 2010 energy efficiency has overtaken solar as the hottest subsector within cleantech. The sectors, in order of number of companies on the list, are: energy efficiency, solar, biofuels, energy storage, energy infrastructure/smart grid, water and wastewater, transportation, recycling and waste, materials, agriculture, air & environment, manufacturing/industrial, wind, marine, geothermal, waste to energy and waste heat. Nearly two thirds of the 100 companies are shipping product, with a third in the product development stage.

Collectively they have raised nearly $4 billion over the past 2 years. According to the Cleantech Group data, 226 unique organizations have invested into the Cleantech 100 portfolio. VantagePoint Venture Partners has invested in thirteen of the companies. Kleiner Perkins has invested in 12, Draper Fisher Jurvetson in seven, Khosla Ventures in five, Good Energies in five, Foundation Capital in five and Frog Capital in five.

Of note is the growth of Asia’s influence in cleantech, not just in production but in innovation, shifting from “Made in China” to “Created in China.” Three Chinese companies are now on the list compared to none in last year’s report.

The Cleantech Forum this year shows corporations are becoming more active in global cleantech innovation – as investors, partners, licensees, customers and acquirers of cleantech companies. Google, GE, IBM, PG&E and Siemens are among the most active partners, with Smart Grid being the most active partnership.

The Forum included helpful break-out sessions, including, “How to Launch your Early Stage Business” and a fireside chat, “Cleantech Financing, Where Do We Go From Here?”

The topic of the Valley of Death, the point where most entrepreneurial ventures fail to see the light of day, was an underlying theme. Several attendees had services to help bridge the gap and funds to engage with start-ups in commercialization. One such company was Veolia, a French environmental services company with $48 billion in revenues, 312,590 employees and 150 years in cleantech. At the Forum, they announced The Veolia Innovation Accelerator, a program to tap the creative energy of cleantech innovators and accelerate growth.

As the outlook for the U.S. to adopt a new energy policy looks grim, utilities, states, cities and corporations are taking control. Though federal stimulus funds have flowed into the cleantech sector, and the Department of Defense has made investments of its own, the amount is not enough to stimulate a new cleantech economy at speed and scale.

The consensus at the forum is that we really don’t have to wait for the government anymore, and there are plenty of opportunities to make some money and make the world a better place.

“Government has a vital role in creating markets, yet raw supply/demand economics is already driving change,” says Nicholas Parker, co-founder of the Cleantech Group, which introduced the cleantech concept to the investment and business community in 2002. “Problems are starting to be solved. Government can ensure that its jurisdiction wins jobs, and wealth, by being part of the solution.”

For more about the Cleantech Forum, visit

Article written by CSRwire Contributing Writer Martha Shaw. Martha is a frequent writer on clean technology, environment and climate literacy. She is the founder and CEO of Earth Advertising, which promotes products and services that help to protect the planet, through social media, public relations and 360° communications. See “Is the environment a moral dilemma?”

This commentary is written by a valued member of the CSRwire contributing writers’ community and expresses this author’s views alone.

The sun powers up Agricultural Hall

By Martha Shaw (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)

Just in time for the Agricultural Fair, a new solar electric system on the roof of the Ag Society’s main barn is now providing the building with free energy from the sun. Installing the solar panels and hooking them up was a community project involving four of the Island’s electrical companies, which volunteered to help out while getting free training on the job.

Matt Larsen of MV Electricians led the effort, which included their own and local electricians from Berube Electric, Powers Electric, and Ronald Pine Electric, with help from Larry Schubert, who installed the mounting racks for the solar panels.

“Being on one job, hand in hand, was fun,” said Matt. “It would have taken a day and a half with two people, but we had it up and running in 5 hours, joking around the whole time. The meter was spinning and we were making electricity.”

“It was nice to see all the different electricians pull together,” said Eleanor Neubert, who is the Agricultural Fair Manager, Secretary to the Board of Trustees, and the one who books the events at the Ag Hall.

The idea of solar energy on the building has been percolating for years, but the Board of Trustees was waiting for the time to be right, according to Bill Haynes, the chairman of the Ag Society’s Building Committee. When they were offered the solar electric system from the Edgartown School, which was being replaced by a larger and more accessible one, they rose to the occasion. A Renewable Energy Trust grant created a perfect opportunity to move ahead in time for the fair. “It’s a big building that takes a lot of lighting and heating,” said Mr. Haynes. “We should be doing more of this.”

Mr. Haynes is also among the many folks on the Island who are now heating their swimming pools with solar collectors and claim that hot water feels better when it has been heated for free by the sun. “I believe in it,” he said. “Solar energy can’t do any harm.”

Many other projects

The Agricultural Society project is one of the 87 solar electric installations and 69 solar hot water systems that are part of the goal of 500 Vineyard Solar Roofs by 2010, under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roofs program. The program funded much of the Vineyard’s energy education and outreach over the last four years and was led by Kate Warner, Director of the Vineyard Energy Project (VEP). With the federal decision to close all but two U.S. Department of Energy regional offices, the Million Solar Roofs program has ended. “It seems a fitting end to the formal Million Solar Roofs program, that Island electricians would collaborate to install a system on a community building, working together on the Island’s energy future,” said Kate Warner.

Despite the conclusion of Million Solar Roofs, subsidies from the Renewable Energy Trust and a federal income tax credit for 2006 and 2007 will continue. VEP’s energy education and outreach also remain full speed ahead, with a focus on helping to move the Island towards greater energy independence from fossil fuels and the electrical umbilical cord to the mainland.

Hope for a renewable energy future, as well as a more environmentally sustainable Island, can also be found in Edgartown’s Atria Restaurant. The Atria recently started up its new solar hot water system, which should provide enough hot water heating for its entire three-season operation, including hot water for dishwashing, food preparation, and washrooms.

According to Atria owner and chef, Christian Thornton, the new solar panels have an immediate payback and could spare the atmosphere of more than four tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. “I was aware of how much energy it takes to run a restaurant,” said Christian. “So, when they came to me with a plan, it was an easy sell. This was not some pie in the sky. At today’s prices, the payback is around $2000 per year, which could go up considerably with a rise in fuel prices.”

Brian Nelson and David Sprague of Nelson Mechanical use a clean energy analysis software tool called RETScreen, developed by NASA, to take the guesswork out and evaluate the energy production and savings, life-cycle costs, financial viability and emission reductions. “All of us have kids, and we want to provide a better world for them,” said Brian Nelson. “When we use up the earth’s resources, we’re taking it from them.”

Christian Thornton agreed, “It’s important to know where your food comes from and the impact that has. Knowing where your energy comes from is just as important.”

The Million Solar Roofs program has paved the way for the Island to embrace solar energy and other renewable resources by proving that affordable technology exists and is readily available to reduce the last century’s precarious dependence on fossil fuels. Its lasting effect will be a community that is more educated about energy and more self-reliant – in keeping with the Island’s history of independence and ingenuity.

The public can view the solar electric system on the Ag Hall at the Agricultural Fair and read all about it. Look for a sign on the Main Barn and in the Hall. For more information on energy, solar electric, hot water or pool heating systems for your home or business, visit

To find out more about energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on the Island, visit This article is sponsored by the Vineyard Energy Project through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Vineyard Energy Project promotes sustainable energy choices through education, outreach, and renewable energy projects. The author, Martha Shaw, is a member of the Vineyard Energy Project’s advisory board. The Times publishes these columns as a service to its readers.

Island residents focus energy on reducing carbon emissions

By Martha Shaw (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)

The notion of rising sea levels – as depicted in the film “An Inconvenient Truth,” which has been playing in local theaters this summer – is prompting many people to ask what they can do to reduce their individual “carbon footprint.” The term describes the emission of carbon from the combustion of fossil fuels and other sources in a person’s everyday life.

The truth is there are plenty of easy ways that everybody can reduce their carbon footprint. Conveniently these often serve to reduce one’s energy costs, as well. From solar technology to energy efficiency, people on the Island are helping to take stress off the earth’s atmosphere, and off the cables and transformers that provide electricity from the mainland, while saving money on their electric bills.

As of June 2006, the Island can boast of 153 solar energy systems that are generating clean energy without the carbon bi-product. They include solar electric panels, solar hot water heaters and solar collectors to heat pools that can pay for themselves in one summer swimming pool season.

Meanwhile biodiesel has become the fuel of choice for some island contractors and trucking businesses as a contribution to a healthier environment and perhaps even a more peaceful world. Hybrid cars that use 50-75 percent less fuel than conventional vehicles have also become a more familiar sight on Island roads. Considering that all Island fuel is imported and that each gallon of gas a car burns puts 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the increase in hybrid owners can make a big difference.

While climate change, pollution, and finite resources may be the greatest environmental challenges in the world, the Vineyard’s dependence on power from the mainland and a $64,000,000 annual energy bill brings the issue home. During winter, the heating bills skyrocket, and during summer tourist season, the cables and transformers approach capacity.

One of the local entities on the Island that focuses on these issues is the Vineyard Energy Project (VEP), a nonprofit group formed in 2003 to address concerns about the Vineyard’s energy future. Through grants and private donations, VEP brings programs, workshops, educational curriculum and public awareness to the Island in order to be ahead of the curve on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Among the most important milestones of the VEP was the completion of the 10-year Energy Action Plan that assesses the Island’s energy usage and makes recommendations for the next decade. Included are improved energy efficiency in everything from home appliances to construction practices, alternative fuels and hybrid technology for transportation, the utilization of biomass and composting, the expansion of solar electricity, solar hot water and wind power, and education to create more awareness about reducing energy consumption by flipping off lights and electronics when not in use.

Taking the Vineyard Lighting Challenge is one of the easiest things a person can do to reduce the Island’s energy consumption. The Challenge asks each household and business, seasonal and year-round, to switch out at least 15 light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). According to the Energy Action Plan, if every household joined the Challenge, this effort could lower the Island’s total electrical demand by 7 percent. Each light bulb that is switched out reduces one’s carbon footprint by a half ton.

The Island has long been known for its spirit of independence, and remarkable ingenuity. Its approach to energy is no exception. By working together, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. Throughout the year, the VEP has sponsored talks and workshops that have motivated everyone from teachers and contractors to political leaders and homeowners to take a look at how the Island can use energy more wisely.

On July 25, at Chilmark Library, 8 pm, and on August 8 at Vineyard Haven Library, at 7:30 pm, talks entitled “A Vineyard Unplugged” will focus on things the summer community can do to propel the Island toward greater energy independence. The public is welcome to stop by the Vineyard Energy Project at 1085 State Road in West Tisbury (10 am-noon, Tues., Thurs., and Sat.) to learn about the Island’s energy efforts and to learn about how to participate. For more details on what’s going on regarding energy independence on Martha’s Vineyard, visit

This article is sponsored by the Vineyard Energy Project through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Vineyard Energy Project promotes sustainable energy choices through education, outreach, and renewable energy projects. The author, Martha Shaw, is a member of the Vineyard Energy Project’s advisory board. The Times publishes these columns as a service to its readers.

To find out more about energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on the Island, visit This article is sponsored by the Vineyard Energy Project through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Vineyard Energy Project promotes sustainable energy choices through education, outreach, and renewable energy projects. The author, Martha Shaw, is a member of the Vineyard Energy Project’s advisory board. The Times publishes these columns as a service to its readers.

Vineyard Unplugged: Living off the grid

By Martha Shaw (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)

Tauras Biskis with his 20-year-old solar panels.

Prior to laying cable to the mainland’s electrical grid, the residents of Martha’s Vineyard had to be resourceful about where they got their energy. Today, many people choose to reduce their dependency on the expensive electricity provided by the cables. Some have chosen to install systems to harness energy from the sun, or from the wind. Others have purchased energy-efficient products and have become more diligent about turning down thermostats and flicking off switches. More rare are the people living entirely “off the grid” which means they aren’t connected to the utility company at all. While the cost of running power to remote properties can, indeed, be daunting, many of these people choose to live off the grid simply on principle and wouldn’t plug in even if they could.

One homeowner who is “unplugged” by choice is Woody Tasch of Chappaquiddick, who lives off the grid year-round in a house originally built by Bruce Lowther. Woody is chairman and CEO of Investors’ Circle, a venture capital network that focuses on sustainability, and he prefers to work at home. This means powering his computer and other electronics with solar energy. To protect them from going down in the rare instances when he runs out of juice, he uses a back-up gas generator.

He says, “We can’t keep burning fossil fuels to feed our every whim and think we’re going to get away with it. Maybe we can live like that for another 20 years but then what?” Woody recently bought a house in a remote region of New Mexico that is also “unplugged” where he plans to write his next book. He coined the phrase “urgent meta-sub-neo-Malthusian-post-greenhouse-environmental-justice-passion” to describe people like himself who are driven by their environmental conscience.

Another homeowner who is unplugged is Tauras Biskis, a musician living in the wilds of Chilmark. He says, “Being off the grid makes me feel closer to the earth…. instead of buying electricity from some stinky power plant.” He admits to being a bit extreme, but says he enjoys the lifestyle and will stay off the grid when he builds his new house, too. With new technology he hopes to optimize the amount of energy he gets from the sun. “I’ve got 10-year-old solar panels now that were passed down to me. I plan to have more panels and a bigger battery array for storage so I can rely as little as possible on propane.”

Though his solar panels allow him to generate the electricity that he uses, Tauras does need to buy gas from Vineyard Propane for cooking, and to supplement the solar panels when sun isn’t available. On a good day, however, the solar panels generate enough electricity to charge the battery bank. An inverter converts the energy to AC power. This runs the water pump, radio, the refrigerator and lights. An ingenious German-made Bosch on-demand water heater uses the hydraulic flow from the water pump to spin a mini-turbine that sparks an igniter switch, which lights the pilot, which lights a burner. When the pump stops running, the burners stop.

He says, “Being off the grid is more complicated in some ways, but much less complicated in others. I look at how much energy I have stored in the batteries and that helps me decide what I can do at that moment. It keeps me in touch with nature.” Like many who revere the Island’s natural surroundings, including its natural light and remarkable advantage for stargazing, the increased usage of indoor and outdoor lights at night on the Island discourage Tauras Biskis. “It’s a waste of energy. Given the chance, our eyes can adjust very well to the dark.”

For the Moore family of West Tisbury, the tradition of living off the grid goes back several generations, to a time before the “grid” was an option. Many of the Moores, whose childhood memories are filled with summers on the Vineyard with no phones or electricity, have chosen to live on the Island year-round and replace their summer camps with year-round homes. For some of them, tying into power lines is still not a valid option because of both logistics and politics. Martha Moore of Middle Point is one of several siblings who cherish the lifestyle.

When Martha built her new house, she was lucky to have the solar energy expertise of her relative, Bill Bennett. She installed an array of solar panels that she can tilt up and down to stay perpendicular to the sun for maximum effect. The panels help to power everything from the refrigerator, water pump, lights, washing machine, TV, stereo, VCR, DVD, two computers and a toaster. That’s with the support of a back-up generator for long periods of overcast skies. Conserving the usage of these amenities is enjoyable and a bit of a science. “What really draws the most energy is anything with heat, like coffee machines, irons, and such. And for now, we have a gas hot water heater and furnace. But, there are exciting new systems we’re looking into.”

While living off the grid isn’t for everyone, there are things everyone can do to lessen the load on the electrical supply to the Island. These include switching electronics off when not is use, using only cold water whenever possible, turning down thermostats, and switching off lights, indoors and out. Find out about programs on the Island that can help reduce your electricity consumption including the Vineyard Lighting Challenge, on Energy Day, May 6, or visit

This article is sponsored by the Vineyard Energy Project through a grant from the US Department of Energy. The Vineyard Energy Project promotes sustainable energy choices through education, outreach, and advocacy. The author, Martha Shaw, is a member of the Vineyard Energy Project’s advisory board. The Times publishes these columns as a service to its readers.