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SkyTrust, Greensulate, and the Brevity of a Decade
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A Decade of Global Warming

As a general principle, it seems that the older we are, the more difficulty we have wrapping our brains around the truly alarming timetable accelerations we're now being given by experts in everything from climate change to species loss to poverty alleviation. To put it simply, things are getting worse more quickly than we thought, and much more quickly than we're making things better. Prospects of planetary collapse we once thought native to the next century, or the century after that, are looming as possibilities for the next decade or two. Things are spiraling seriously downwards, so we need to change our thinking and move with a speed unseen since World War Two.

Our understanding of climate change, in particular, has morphed quickly this year. We now understand that our deadline to undertake serious steps might best be measured in years, a decade at best, and that action needs to be dramatic and sustained. But our popular culture has not, to put it mildly, caught up to this new reality.

That's why this MTV video is powerful and welcome, driving home artistically the magnitude of the problem and the brevity of a decade (3,650 days).

Skytrust

Many observers believe that we must tax carbon if we are to spur the sort of energy transitions we need to beat back climate change, but proposals for a global carbon tax have always run up against the argument that taxing emissions would place a disproportionate burden on the shoulders of the world's poor. Not necessarily so, say researchers at Padjadjaran University, in Indonesia:

Previous studies have suggested that by increasing energy prices, carbon taxes could harm the poor more than the rich ― as the former spend a higher proportion of their income on fuel. But the new study, based on data from Indonesia, shows that in terms of energy consumption, the impact on the rural poor would be much less than that on wealthy people in cities, as the poor use comparatively little energy.

The poor could actually benefit from a carbon tax. Rising energy prices mean that small scale farmers ― who make up the majority of Indonesia's poor and use little machinery ― could compete better with large farms that rely on machinery with high energy consumptions.

While more research must still be done, the potential exists that a properly-crafted global carbon tax could actually benefit the poorest. See, for instance, the Sky Trust idea.

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Insulation Made from Mushrooms

An engineer with an agricultural background recently developed a new kind of "eco-friendly" building insulation using mushroom spores. The "Greensulate formula [is] an organic, fire-retardant board made of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral blend found in potting soil...A 1-inch-thick sample of the perlite-mushroom composite had a 2.9 R-value, the measure of a substance's ability to resist heat flow. Commercially produced fiberglass insulation typically has an R-value between 2.7 and 3.7 per inch of thickness." Clearly this is a way to avoid carcinogenic materials and petrochemicals in the walls of our homes and offices, and it also demonstrates the extent of what's possible when we innovate across disciplines. If these guys teamed up with Paul Stamets, they could collectively cure all the worlds ills with fungus.

Award-winning Latin-American nonprofit and social campaigns

Caracol de Plata is an award given annually to outstanding Latin American graphic and multi-media campaigns for social causes. These are high-impact visual (and sometimes audio-visual) statements that convey messages with clarity and precision that often goes beyond words. The winners of the 2006 awards included a Mexican Red Cross TV commercial and a Greenpeace print campaign (both by Saatchi & Saatchi), as well a very cool one pictured below from Fundação O Boticário de Proteção a Natureza, which links threats to human health with deforestation, using human bodies to create natural forms.

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