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Green/Sustainability

Viewers Who Tuned in to Eaten Alive Disappointed To Find No One Got Eaten Alive

rosolieThere was no truth in advertising on this one. We’ve been hearing about the Discovery Channel’s Eaten Alive special for months now. And Paul Rosolie, the daring environmental activist who had volunteered to be eaten alive by a giant snake to save the planet was fueling the fires for this one.

“People care about animals; they don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in… So I wanted to do something that would force a dialogue about what’s going on here – and it’s working,” he said in an interview we wrote about barely two weeks ago.

In that interview, he said he was still recovering from the experience. So you’d be reasonable in thinking, “Dang. That man got eaten by a giant snake and it was unsurprisingly traumatic. I must see this amazing thing that has happened.”

Well, after nearly two hours of watching blah blah blah last night, Rosolie was not in fact eaten by a snake. The snake hurt his arm and then he called for help.

Also last night, my neighbor’s giant cat scratched me while clawing at my sock. It was just as thrilling as this hot eco-mess.

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Man Tries To Save the Environment by Being Eaten By a Snake

rosolieIf you’ve seen any commercials on the Discovery Channel lately, you’ve seen the one where a group of people carry a ginormous snake while a man in a Hazmat-looking suit talks about how he’s going to let that snake eat him.

That snake is an anaconda and the man is environmentalist Paul Rosolie. He told Entertainment Weekly (sub req’d) that he’s doing the stunt to raise awareness about environmental degradation.

“People care about animals; they don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in… So I wanted to do something that would force a dialogue about what’s going on here – and it’s working,” he told the magazine.

The man has got a point. But when I first saw the ad, I’m thinking, “This can’t be good for the snake.” (Please note: I know nothing about snakes except that they enjoy vacationing on New York City toilets.)

But a lot of others also had that same thought.

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Rockefellers, Heirs to Oil Fortune, Announce Divestment from Fossil Fuels

640x400rbf-logo_color_left__largeWe can’t imagine John D. Rockefeller ever thought his heirs would be releasing a statement like this one.

On the heels of the largest-ever climate change protest that occurred in NYC this past weekend, and just before multiple countries are set to meet at the UN to discuss a climate change treaty, the Rockefellers — heirs to the Standard Oil fortune — have announced that their $860 million charitable foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), plans to completely divest in fossil fuels.

The statement reads in part:

“Given the RBF’s deep commitment to combating climate change, the Fund is now committing to a two-step process to address its desire to divest from investments in fossil fuels. Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions. We are working to eliminate the Fund’s exposure to these energy sources as quickly as possible…As we take the steps to divest from coal and tar sands investments, we are also undertaking a comprehensive analysis of our exposure to any remaining fossil fuel investments and will work with the RBF Investment Committee and board of trustees to determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years.”

This move represents a trend in philanthropic planning toward treating endowments and investments themselves as tools for social change; over the past few years, college endowments, churches, pension funds and city governments alike have pledged to sell a total of $50 billion in investments in oil, coal and gas companies. Read more

Matt Damon Does Ice Bucket Challenge with Toilet Water to Send a Message

To date, so many people have dumped water over their heads for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that the effort has raised over $88 million for the ALS Association, and while that’s a whole lot of money for a very worthy cause, it also means a whole lot of fresh, clean water — a rare commodity for millions of people — being wasted.

This is why actor Matt Damon, co-founder of charity Water.org, had mixed feelings about accepting the challenge sent his way by friends Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Affleck.

“It posed kind of a problem for me, not only because there’s a drought here in California,” Damon explained in a video uploaded to the his organization’s YouTube channel, “But because I co-founded Water.org, and we envision the day when everybody has access to a clean drink of water — and there are about 800 million people in the world who don’t — and so dumping a clean bucket of water on my head seemed a little crazy.” Read more

Solar Energy Has a PR Problem: Massive Teepees of Doom are Killing Birds

Fried-Chicken-Set2Environmentalists had much to celebrate when the Ivanpah Energy Power Facility in California flipped its switch earlier this year and began powering 140,000 homes with clean energy.

Unfortunately, their joy translated into gloom for animal rights activists: somewhere between a thousand and 28,000 birds have since been fried to death in what’s been called “massive teepees of doom.”

Right now you’re probably thinking two things: first, tell me more; and secondly, that’s a pretty big range of alleged aviancide… is this truly a PR crisis for solar energy?

Credit goes to Esquire’s Michael Howard for an evocative piece describing how BrightSoure’s $2.2 billion plant is cooking birds alive when they fly through concentrated rays of sunshine:

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Downton Abbey’s Classy, Charitable Response to ‘Water Bottle-Gate’

By now, you’ve probably seen the promotional image for Downton Abbey that’s had fans, history purists, and the internet in general in a multi-day frenzy, but in case you haven’t, here it is — out-of-place plastic water bottle and all:

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In response to the media madness, the cast of the hit show has released another image, and this one is chock-full of water bottles. Only this time, their presence is intentional, and intended to refocus the public’s attention on a worthy issue.

A spokesperson for British TV network ITV explained, “After seeing the reaction the picture caused earlier this week, the cast and crew came up with the idea of turning some of this attention towards an issue around water that really matters. They hope that by posing for this picture they will be able to raise awareness and amplify the work of international charity – WaterAid.”

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WaterAid is a charitable organization that has spent decades bringing water, sanitation and hygiene education to where it’s needed most.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said: Read more

Conservationists Use Twitter to Inject ‘Real Science’ Back into Shark Week

If you were to search #SharkWeek on Twitter right now, it would yield plenty of brand tweets reminding customers that the product or service in question is a perfect tie-in to the annual celebration of our toothy, aquatic heroes. In fact, with shark-themed doughnuts, cars, cosmetics, and whiskey, one might even be able to live this whole week without touching a single non-shark-related thing, however tenuous the actual connection might be.

But brands aren’t the only Twitter-users utilizing the #SharkWeek hashtag to further their own purposes; while it’s undeniably fun to buy into the hype, there are many organizations and individuals that would like to remind us that the heart of Shark Week is (or should be) science, education, and conservation, and they are taking to Twitter to hammer this message home.

While some are simply taking it upon themselves to spread awareness and education (like the examples above), others are taking direct issue with the programming on Discovery, lamenting the replacement of good old-fashioned documentaries with the increasingly-popular “docudrama.” Read more

STUDY: Social Media Is Winning PR War for Anti-Fracking Groups

Signs protesting the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, are seen near the town of Calicoon Center, New YorkWe’ve written frequently about the PR war over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” — anti-fracking and environmental groups VS. the energy companies that have adopted the controversial practice. Now, a recent study by Makovsky suggests that while both sides may be impassioned and dedicated to winning the debate, the war is being fought on two different battle grounds, and the side utilizing social media appears to be the side that’s winning.

The survey revealed that 57% of U.S. consumers believe that fracking is one of the three most important environmental issues today. Furthermore, 65% of respondents (71% in fracking cities) say they hear about the issue at least weekly, and 77% say they hear about it primarily from internet news sites and social media.

Now here’s the kicker: the study also found that the vast majority of social media mentions of the subject are coming from anti-fracking activists and groups. In fact, of the 1.3 million Twitter mentions of fracking from January through July 2014, anti-fracking activists generated 2000% more impressions than groups supportive of the practice. Let us spell that out again… two-thousand percent! Read more

Ben & Jerry’s Goes Rogue on GMOs

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Here’s a very interesting report on some internal conflict within the massive conglomerate we call Unilever: seems that the company and one of its most valued properties disagree on the issue of genetically modified organisms in food.

Matthew Boyle of Bloomberg reports that, while Ben & Jerry’s strongly supports its home state’s new law requiring GMO foods to be labeled as such, Unilever does not. Shocking, we know.

Yet Unilever allows the ice cream kings to be outspoken in their advocacy because, as an analyst tells Bloomberg:

“I don’t think they will ever want the potentially massive negative PR of trying to silence B&J.”

Well, yeah.

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General Mills Holds Its Nose, Leaps into Climate Change

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General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other such consumer goods, took a bold step into the CSR pool this week by announcing that it would make changes to its agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously mounting related advocacy efforts designed to affect public policy.

What does this mean? From the company’s post on the matter yesterday:

“Nearly 2/3 of the GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations in agriculture, ingredients and packaging”

So they’re insisting that their suppliers get on board by reducing those emissions and “achiev[ing] zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020″…or else. We assume.

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