Archive for July 29, 2013

Analysis: Economy, Environment Merge to Speed Global Decline

Source: Building
By Candace Pearson
“Economic collapse and then global warming will catch us off guard, experts fear.”

Severe weather events can leave a large bill and are not always evenly or predictably distributed. Heavy economic losses in the U.S. from weather events in 2011 show that the cumulative cost of several disasters can add up, a growing concern as our climate becomes more volatile.

Economic Losses Related to Natural Catastrophes in 2011

Experts perceive “major systemic economic failure” and “failure of climate change adaptation” as two of the most systematically critical global risks for the next ten years, says the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its annual Global Risks Report. Finding that environmental and economic systems are highly correlated and interdependent, the report highlights the relationship in a case section titled “Testing Economic and Environmental Resilience.” Referencing a 2011 Mercer study, the report estimates that climate change will cumulatively issue a $2–$4 trillion blow to global health and infrastructure investments by 2030. So far, international policies have committed only $100 billion for adaptation and damage costs.

WEF’s survey respondents often rated economic and environmental risks as highly correlated, and mapping these connections revealed one of the clearest “constellations.” As both systems show signs of decline, experts worry the relationship spells disaster.

A network analysis—where relationships between risks were determined by experts rating pairs of challenges as highly interconnected—revealed that declining economic and environmental systems are correlated. WEF says this correlation currently manifests itself in a daunting negative feedback loop (a vicious cycle of problems reinforcing one another). Efforts to avert climate change are hindered by limited public resources, but the longer decision-makers wait, the more it will cost. The report notes the increasing difficulty of implementing international climate-change mitigation agreements since the economic slow-down. The report points to the private sector as an untapped source of funding and innovation. In the U.S., where 80% of the nation’s critical infrastructure is in private hands, public-private collaboration will be essential to protecting the nation’s assets, according to the report.

Green Workplace Challenge Deadline Approaching

Last call to sign up: 2013-2014 Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge
Sign up deadline is July 31

Dozens of organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania have already signed up for the 2013-2014 Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge (GWC).

For everyone else: there is still time to get onboard! The deadline is July 31.

As if saving money and gaining public accolades for your organization’s green achievements wasn’t enough, by signing up for the GWC, your organization is eligible to win prizes that help you ahead of the competition.

All GWC participants signing up by July 31st are entered into a drawing to win a combination of the following (their choice), valued in total at approximately $1,500:
– Energy Audit
– Waste, Recycling, Green Procurement assessment via Pennsylvania Resources Council
– ZipCar credit account
– Green Energy Voucher via Community Energy
– Bicycles for a shared office bike program

Through the GWC, participants track and measure improvements in the areas of energy, water, waste, and transportation over the course of a year. Points are earned based on actions taken.

The GWC is open to businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, and colleges/universities. Participants will compete among peers in their own category type.

Signing up is easy! For more information, please visit and sign up for a “New User Account”. After you create an account, please view the Green Workplace Challenge Quick Start Guide to identify the top ten actions you can take to start saving money.

Pittsburgh Climate Initiative Releases Statement on President’s Climate Plan

Pittsburgh Climate Initiative Response to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

The Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI) strongly supports President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and looks forward to increased leadership from the United States on the issue of global climate change.

Pittsburgh has been a leader in local initiatives to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions since adopting its first Climate Action Plan in 2008, but local initiatives are not enough. There must be action at the Federal level and the U.S. needs to lead other nations in tackling this very serious and global challenge.

In particular, we support the President’s plan to cut energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories, through such measures as establishing new energy efficiency standards and expanding the Better Buildings Challenge. We are encouraged by the focus the President has placed on developing new, clean fuel sources and hope that this investment will be targeted towards renewable energy sources, rather than fossil fuels. It was here in Pittsburgh at the 2009 G-20 Summit that the U.S. successfully advocated for a commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

As an area plagued by stormwater problems, Pittsburgh knows that increasingly severe storms and precipitation events will exacerbate these issues. We look forward to support and resources at the Federal level to help local communities adapt to a new climate regime.

Finally, we are encouraged by the inclusion of plans to work with other nations and major economies to address climate change. Meaningful action on greenhouse gas reductions can only occur through global cooperation.

Labor and Business Allies to Hold Discussion on Climate Change

On Tuesday, July 9 at 2:00 p.m. local labor and business allies will hold a roundtable discussion at the United Steelworkers Headquarters entitled “Repair America: A Roundtable Discussion
on Climate Change and Job Creation.”

For more information, visit the event Facebook page.

Panelists to include:

  • Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers
  • David Foster, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance
  • Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County
  • Jack Shea, President, Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Sylvia Wilson, Treasurer, Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO


Rolling Stone Article Highlights Climate Impacts

The July 4th edition of Rolling Stone featured an article titled “Goodbye, Miami” that highlighted the challenges Southern Florida will encounter as a result of climate change. The article is long, but worth the read. While the author does a great job emphasizing why Americans should be concerned, we wish he would have spent a little time discussing the many, many options we have for mitigating climate change. It’s true that we have passed a point of no return and some impacts are unavoidable, but there is still a lot we can do and now is the time to act.

Check out for suggestions of what you can do in your own life to combat climate change.