The Friday Sustainability Roundup, Quiz Style

For the past five years I’ve written a sustainability tip for my company newsletter. This past week I imitated Paul Slansky, who used to do brilliant quizzes in the New Yorker during, as he calls it, “the Bush coup d’etat.” The column appears below the tiger.

Three interesting quotes came over the transom this week, from interesting sources. See if you can guess where these came from.

1) “We call on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.”

2) “America is a resplendent, plentiful and fertile land, rich with natural resources, bounded by vast ocean spaces. Together these gifts are ours to be enjoyed for their majesty, cultivated and harvested for their abundance, and preserved for following generations. Many of these resources are renewable, some are not. But all must be respected as part of a global ecosystem that is being tasked to support a world population projected to reach nine billion peoples midway through this century. These resources range from crops, livestock, and potable water to sources of energy and materials for industry. Our third investment priority is to develop a plan for the sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued well being, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace.”

3) “…the basic idea is that all the CO2 we emit stays around for a long time. That’s a very unfortunate fact, and that leads to the warming. That’s about as clear as anything can be. You can argue over, as the temperature goes up, will it go up even more. There are certain feedback effects that are the subject of a lot of inquiry. But almost no one basically doubts the fact that you’ve got to reduce the CO2 emissions.”


1) A Vatican working group of scientists.

2) The second quote is from a paper by Capt. Wayne Porter (Navy) and Col. Mark Mykleby (Marines), called “A National Strategic Narrative.” (PDF). It’s not an official military document, but the two authors are high-placed advisers to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A New York Times story goes into more detail, and quotes Mykleby speaking to the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce: “It’s a strategic liability to keep subsidizing our agribusiness model the way it is for any number of reasons — the decay of our soil, the health of our citizens, because our food is not healthy any more, etc., etc.’ ” he says. “Remarkably, it was very well received in the middle of corn country.”

3) Microsoft co-founder and CEO Bill Gates, who is now better known for the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates gave a TED talk about energy last year, and the quote comes from a conversation about the same issues sponsored by Grist.

In other news:

  • A UK government report concludes that Wi-fi internet access and other communications are at risk from global warming. (Guardian)
  • An analysis of 900 academic papers supporting climate scepticism found that 9 out of the top 10 authors were linked to ExxonMobil.
  • Girl Scouts, parents, and cookie buyers logged onto the Girl Scouts’ USA Facebook page to ask that palm oil be removed from Girl Scout cookies. (Harvesting palm oil destroys tropical rainforest, and has contributed to habitat loss for species such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and rhinoceroses). The organization’s response? It simply deleted the comments. (Good write-up about the story and issues from Grist.)
  • A new paper from a Swiss researcher found that singals from cell phones cause honeybees to become disoriented, and then drop dead. (Fast Company)
  • From the Dept. of Read this While Standing Up: Scientists in Louisiana found that people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks. There’s also an infographic that spells out this research in more detail.

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