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Market Signals = The Lifeblood of Sustainable Capitalism

Sustainable CenturyThe Sustainable Century by Design or Disaster (my upcoming book) is guided by seven themes (see box). Below is an overview of Chapter One where the theme of market signals is explored as critical to creating a sustainable global economy.

In a world crowded to excess with hopelessly uncreative, ineffective and wasteful conventional marketing efforts, it may seem hard to believe that sustainability values, obscured as they may be, are growing in strength and having increasing influence on the supply of the goods and services we want and need.

Still not nearly strong enough to push the market over a “sustainability tipping point” or the moment when sustainability drives the majority of demand impulses and supply reactions, sustainability signals are notable and rising in volume.SCDD 7 thoughts

Growth of fair trade markets, organic foods, non-GMO food production, the sharing economy, and most important of all, sales of products with some inherent “sustainability value” in conventional retail outlets are growing at rates much faster than “traditional” products/markets.

It will take some time to block out the great static of superficial unsustainable demand and replace it with deeper universal sustainability values, but all the signs point to great change in store.

Chapter One of The Sustainable Century by Design or Disaster explores the nature, strength and challenges behind making louder more forceful sustainability values market signals.

Excerpted from upcoming book by Marc de Sousa Shields, Managing Partner ES Global, The Sustainable Century by Design or Disaster…. For more information write info@esglobal.com
 
 
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On Low Oil, Fulcrums and a Sustainability Tipping Point Moment – All Hell Shall Stir for this!

Malcom Gladwell gave the world the tipping point. In it he argued a few people with the right idea at the right time can affect great social change.

Many now believe we are nearing a tipping point for a dramatic climate change fix.

I agree but not because enough folks are on board but because the fulcrum point of change has shifted.

Let me explain.

Think of a society, or any given issue as a plank resting on a fulcrum or point of support. As social, economic, and political contexts change, the fulcrum shifts to favor one world view or another… see- sawing back and forth if you will.

With each shift, the amount energy required to affect major change one way gets harder or easier. Tilting one end of the see-saw right to the ground is equally difficult until the fulcrum point is met, until SWISH, somehow your butt is on the ground.

Large or small, in combination or isolation, suddenly or evolutionarily, contextual variables work to move the fulcrum along under the plank. Sustainability fulcrum moving events are many. They include Rana Plaza, Exxon Valdez, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of social investment, among many others.

The fulcrum has been shifting slowly in favor global Climate Change action for some time. Low Oil is a fulcrum moving event. In fact, it may be THE variable needed to shift the fulcrum over to a Gladwellian tipping point.

The sudden and precipitous drop in oil price has put the oil patch/energy sector in a house of havoc. Images of BP’s Gulf Coast oil spill are still fresh in our minds. The oil divestment movement has noisily served notice with some pretty strong voices. A growing number of conservative politicians are publicly admitting climate change is real. New Energy is a sleek alternative, with new technologies gaining ground daily on Old Energy.

Will Low Oil cause the Climate Change Wall to tumble down?

Hard to say. But one thing is sure: Old Energy is weak and the energy required dramatically shift climate change fulcrum is the lowest it has ever been.

The Low Oil window is likely open only for a short time, a strategic moment for climate change to be sure.

We need to strike now with a global carbon tax (or equivalent).

There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.

All hell shall stir for this.

Henry V

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Why Corporate Decision Makers Don’t Always Get Sustainability Investment Options & 4 Things You Can Do About It.

We all know the best investors are those willing to take calculated risks and know their investments inside out…. right?

Yes and no.

Yes: understanding the nature and size of risk is important.

No: investors who over-think investments tend to lower their risk reward appetite and the breadth of investments they might consider.

This Yes-No condition is sometimes referred to as myopic loss aversion (MLA). It is the result of:

  1. Evaluating investments too intensely and too often;
  2. Being unable to objectively compare competing risk-reward “payoffs”;
  3. Not having experience or a framework to accept an unfamiliar yet calculated risk.

Almost all substantial corporate sustainability investment decisions are afflicted by MLA.

Why?

First, most involve high degrees of sensitivity often crossing departmental lines. This leads to over analysis, not to mention turf wars, which in turn leads to more analysis.

Next, tangible and intangible returns of a sustainability investment are almost always poorly understood as too risky.

As a result, sustainability proposals are analyzed literally to death, or at least far more prejudicially than competing conventional investment proposals — even those with similar or less interesting risk-return potential.

Last, sustainability investments don’t easily fit into conventional risk-return assessment frameworks most executives use.

An example — and one that still hurts: we once showed a client how a $400k investment in fleet maintenance and alternative fuel conversions would result in a 25% ROI within 12 months. A no brainer right?

Nope.

We got nowhere. Despite numerous, very good presentations which clearly demonstrated competing projects offered nothing near 25%, we met ferocious opposition from all sides.

We made two key mistakes which stroked a bit more than just a little MLA.

First, we tried to convince too many people, in too many different departments. This took time and fueled too much analysis, thought, discussion and debate.

Second, we failed to compare our project risk to others with similar risk profiles and not just lower RIOs. We should have talked about reputational risk, fuel price risk, and maintenance risk, logistics risk etc. or risks executives intuitively get and need not think much about.

With nothing to hang in their conventional risk reference frameworks, we were completely and unequivocally rejected – ambushed by MLA.

Here’s what we should done:

  1. Be patient and only get in front of the right people and only present once or twice;
  2. Prepare a simple matrix comparing our proposal with conventional projects of similar risk levels and characteristics (i.e., RIO comparators are not enough);
  3. Connect decision makers to stakeholders in direct comparator projects;
  4. Give the company a short time to accept our proposal so they couldn’t over-analyze.
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The Time for a Global Carbon Tax is NOW

The world needs a global tax on carbon. Imposed immediately, in all countries at once.

Of all the sustainability issues great and small that merit our attention, a global carbon tax is the only magic bean the sustainability bag.

The time to push hard for the tax is now. Here’s why.

Dramatically lower energy prices are making consumers happy – very happy – for the first time in a long, long while. Low priced oil will help the average US consumer save about USD 2,000 on gas and USD 350 on heating/cooling.  Add lower cost food, air travel, etc. and folks in the US, Japan, and Europe alone will save an estimated USD 590 B in the coming year. The savings are equally impressive for the 178 net energy importing countries. Who might notice or disagree with a small feel good carbon tax?

“Big Energy” meanwhile is very, very unhappy and historically distracted by over the cliff income loss. Halliburton – for many the poster child of all that is wrong with energy – for example, lost 49% of its value since June 2014. Big and Small Energy (aka Frackers) alike are trimming budgets rapidly and dramatically. Many Frackers will go out of business. Their financiers will also suffer substantial loan defaults and fee income loss. That’s a lot of lost anti-carbon tax lobby bench strength.

Holding the many potential negative economic and sustainability effects of “Low Oil” aside for the moment, the generally positive economic outlook offers what may be the most politically palatable moment for introducing a carbon tax.

Some Big Voices agree.

Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers believes consumers enjoying a Low Oil windfall probably won’t mind a modest carbon tax.  The Milton Friedman professor at the University of Chicago – the altar of free-markets, Michael Greenstone is also for taxing carbon. So is former GOP Congressman Bob Inglis, who argues Low Oil is an opportunity to swap income for emission taxes.  Jeff Rubin, former chief economist at CIBC World Markets believes  it’s time for Alberta – home to Canada’s massive tar sands projects – to stop “relying on bitumen royalties (and) to start taxing carbon.”

If sustainability is about natural processes, and it is, Old Energy is best seen as the aging beast it is. Alternative energy is youthful, aggressive, svelte and savvy, with economics that are now competitive enough to push the staggering old bastard aside.

Two things can help put Old Energy down humanely (to the world economy that is). First, the rapid and global introduction of a carbon tax. Second, switch the estimated USD 750 B to USD 1T Old Energy subsidies over to alternatives.

Too much to ask of national governments’ mostly able to only agree on nothing much important?

Perhaps.  But there is still enough carbon in the ground that the radical reductions are needed now. The Low Oil windfall may be the best, even last chance to accelerate the current pace of change – a pace certain only to boil us to death a bit slower than if we do nothing.

Put aside other sustainability issues for now, let us strike.

What do to with the carbon tax income coming soon…

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A Circular Economy in a Complex MultiDimensional Sustainability Game

You may have heard of the circular economy.

It is an economy where economic material flows enter the biosphere with manageable or no impact.

There is lots to like about this! Indeed, this is the environmental end game of sustainability is it not?

The best news is that the European Parliament is talking seriously about serious plans to support a circular European economy.

But the term seems a bit two dimensional, particularly when we think of the social and economic imperatives of sustainability.

Imagine this instead: a great complex sphere of economic, social, cultural, physical interrelationship hurling down a path littered with signpost screaming: STOP UNSUSTAINABLE.

That is the economy we live in today and that’s why it is so hard to instigate change. Circular just doesn’t quite capture the complexity and inertia of it all.

Its plausible, for example, to have a completely circular economy with the same intolerable levels of social injustice or economic inequality.

A multidimensional, circular economy is the sustainability goal it would seem.

In the meantime, I’ll take what we get on the circular front. So lets cross our fingers for Europe.

Test your knowledge on the circular economy quiz at the Guardian.

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Regulatory Klieg Lights, Corporate Photophobia and Sustainability.

I like a good government intervention from time to time. Problem is, good, market moving interventions are far and few between.

Some, like Naomi Klein, advocate massive infrastructure investments as a means to solve our climate crisis. Even if this was politically feasible, endless public investment might never be enough to stem underlying forces of unsustainable, dare I say ignorant consumption.

Bolstering growing but still weak sustainability market signals, on the other hand, seems a more feasible, less costly and faster way to the same end.

Requiring pension funds to publically state if they considered social, environmental and governance (ESG) criteria in investment decisions worked to this end, for example, leading to dramatically increased ESG investment levels in Canada, England and France with minimal financial or political costs.

Transparency works because consumers by and large want good things to happen. Sustainability reporting, labeling, or any form of shining light on corporate behavior lets consumers and investors decide if we want – or not – to buy or invest.

If a company fears light there is a reason for it.

The massive corporate-led, anti-GMO labeling campaign in various US states is instructive. Why don’t companies want us to know about GMOs? I am pretty certain it’s because they don’t really want us to understand what GMOs are all about.

Consumers may be ignorant but we are hardly dumb. Indeed, a recent Pew Foundation poll found while most consumers don’t really know what GMOs are they are pretty sure they can’t be a good thing! The poll also found that more information about GMOs would only confirm this fear and dramatically alter buying habits. Hence the corporate photophobia.

So while Kline is right about the climate crisis, it may be easier and ultimately more enduring to leverage capitalism by shining a little klieg lighting on corporate deeds rather than swim against implacable and fickle political tides.

Make sustainability reporting and labeling mandatory.

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The EXPONENTIAL power of Sustainability Market Signals

Sustainability market signals — the signals guiding the market towards more and better corporate sustainability – are growing.

These signals can be purchase and/or brand-oriented and are sent by consumers looking for both functionality and some form of sustainability inherent in a product/service. The value can be tangible, as in a biodegradable soap or a solar panel, or intangible, such as the feeling one gets buying a local artisan’s hand-made scarf, or helping a Costa Rican cooperative by purchasing their fairly traded coffee.

Less obvious are some more common products such as low energy light bulbs (probably the most successful sustainability product ever) or simply buying one brand over a competitor’s because it has more sustainable packaging. (See the example of Puma’s clever little bag in Do we really understand shared sustainability value creation?)

There are also non-purchase sustainability market signals. A long-time stakeholder favorite is the boycott and increasingly, positive or negative stakeholder media campaigns. More traditional approaches include stakeholders advocating for regulatory change and/or various forms of civil disobedience. GMO opposition is a prime example.

Sustainability market signals are growing. Consumer surveys from Latin America, Asia, Europe the UK and the US confirm this, all saying pretty much the same: about 50% of consumers are excited by the thought of making sustainability purchases and between 15% and 25% actually do so on a fairly regular basis.

If I would have to guess, the hard core sustainability market, or consumers whose majority purchases have some inherent sustainability value is still far less than 1% world-wide.

A much higher percentage of folks are sending non-purchase signals especially, for example, around minimum wage, work conditions in the textile industry, local food production and consumption, health and safety issues, and economic, social and race equality/justice.

Curiously and frustratingly, most consumers and advocates have yet to put 2 + 2 together and don’t flex the exponential power of consistently sending purchase and non-purchase signals together. Fighting companies selling GMO food but still buying GMO laced foods is a prime example.

The days is coming where these two signals converge more coherently in the marketplace. In the meantime, we can take heart that like no other warm and fuzzy concept, sustainability has penetrated deeply into the heart and soul of the market psyche.

The holiday season is upon us.

Sell and buy well.

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Infinite Economic Pleasure – Want Experiences

A couple of days ago, I argued wanting less stuff is the way to a sustainable economy and, not incidentally the path to greater personal happiness – but that’s a story for later.

In the meantime, to be happy with less and not have the economy fall over the edge of the universe – three words: Want More Experiences.

Family picnics, discover nature, church parties, group tours, art shows, dining out, theater, hobby groups, coffee clubs, urban gardens, night clubbing, music festivals (I recommend Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival)

These are the things we love and the things that keep us happy, healthy and whole. Buy more experience, less stuff.

PS Check out Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card which give 2x points for dining out!!! Holy cow, a sustainability idea from a financial corporation.

PPS Check out Discover the Forest a cool campaign to “reconnect your family with nature by discovering a forest or park nearby.

 

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Industrial Tragedies and Sustainability, Honoring Bhopal and Others….

Thirty years ago methyl isocyanate leaked from a storage tank at a plant owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal India. Between 4,000 to 20,000 people were to eventually die in one of the worst industrial accidents in history. To this day, justice, many feel, has not been given to the victims and their families.

The leak, as with many other industrial accidents, was avoidable. Over history, there have been many millions of smaller and larger industrial catastrophes, some due to negligence, others to greed, many to incompetence, and some just to terrible luck and fate.

In the greatest sense, there will be no justice for those in Bhopal or others who have suffered, without an end to preventable industrial accidents. See Bhopal. Dec 3, 1984. Companies can do more. See also, Blameless in Bangladesh.

Below is a list of some of the most infamous industry related accidents over the last 114 years. It is not complete, there are other terrible incidents not mentioned. When I read it over this morning, it felt as though miners, factory workers, chemical plant employees, innocent men, women and children who just happened to live nearby and the ecologies irreparably damaged were giving silent testimony through the ages for more and better corporate sustainability.

This list, and this posting, is dedicated to those in Bhopal and others who have tragically suffered. It is also dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of professionals and volunteers the world round who have worked, and are working ceaselessly within companies and without to improve the health and safety of workers and the environment.

  1. March 20, 1905: Grover Shoe Factory Disaster, Brockton, Massachusetts, boiler explosion, 58 workers killed.
  2. March 10, 1906: Courrières Mine Disaster, Courrières, France. 1,099 workers killed.
  3. January 20, 1909: Chicago Water Crib Disaster, Chicago, USA 60 worker killed.
  4. March 25, 1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, New York City, USA workers killed.
  5. October 14, 1913: Senghenydd Colliery Disaster, Sengheydd, UK 439 workers killed.
  6. December 6, 1917: The Halifax Explosion, Halifax, Canada, 2000 people killed, 9000 injured.
  7. October 4, 1918: A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant Explosion (ammunition plant), Sayreville, New Jersey, 100 workers killed.
  8. January 15, 1919: The Boston Molasses Disaster, Boston, USA, molasses tank burst, 21 people killed, 150 injured.
  9. September 21, 1921: Oppau BASF Explosion, Oppau, Germany, chemicals, 500–600 people killed, 2,000 injured.
  10. March 1, 1924: Nixon Nitration Works Disaster, Edison, New Jersey, nitrate spill, 24 people killed, 100 injured.
  11. 1927 – 1932: Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster, Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, USA, 476 workers killed from silicosis.
  12. 1932-1968: The Minamata Disaster, Minamata, Japan, Chisso Corporation, mercury dumped in Minamata Bay, 3,000 people suffered deformities, mercury poisoning symptoms or death.
  13. April 26, 1942: Benxihu Colliery, Benxi, Liaoning, China. 1,549 workers killed.
  14. July 17, 1944: Port Chicago Disaster, Port of Chicago, CA, USA, (munitions 320) people killed.
  15. April 16, 1947: Texas City Disaster, Texas, USA, ammunitions explosion, 578 people killed, 3,500.
  16. 1948: Chemical Explosion, Ludwigshafen, Germany, BASF, 207 workers killed.
  17. October 1957: The Windscale Fire, Windscale, UK, nuclear accident, no fatalities, massive radiation leaked to environment.
  18. May 1962: The Centralia Coal Mine Fire, Pennsylvania. USA.
  19. May 28, 1965: Dhanbad Coal Mine Disaster, Jharkhand, India, 300 workers killed.
  20. August 9, 1965: Little Rock Air Force Base, Searcy, Arkansas, missile silo fire, 53 workers killed.
  21. October 21, 1966: Aberfan Disaster, Aberfan, Wales, colliery disaster, 116 children and 28 adults killed.
  22. March 1967: The Torrey Canyon Supertanker Shipwreck, Cornwall, England first major oil spill at sea.
  23. February 3, 1971: The Thiokol-Woodbine Explosion, Georgia, Thiokol Chemical plant, 29 workers killed, 50 injured.
  24. June 1, 1974: Flixborough Disaster, Fixborough, England, chemical plant explosion, 28 people killed, 36 injured.
  25. August, 1975: The Banqiao Dam Failure, Henan Province, China, 250,000 people killed.
  26. July 10, 1976: Seveso Disaster, Seveso, Italy, ICMESA, dioxins release, 10,000 animals died, 193 people suffered from chloracne.
  27. March 16, 1978: The Amoco Cadiz, Puerto Real, Spain, 68,684,000 gallons crude oil spilled, Amoco.
  28. April 27, 1978: Willow Island Disaster, Willow Island, West Virginia, USA, cooling tower collapsed, 51 workers killed.
  29. February 6, 1979: The Roland Mill Explosion, Bremen, Germany, flour dust explosion, 14 workers killed, 17 injured.
  30. March 28, 1979: Three Mile Island Accident, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, USA, nuclear reactor meltdown, radiation leak to environment.
  31. June 3, 1979: Ixtoc I Oil Spill, Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, Pemex.
  32. November 20, 1980: Lake Peigneur Oil Rig, USA, oil rig drilled into a salt mine transforming freshwater lake into a salt water lake, Texaco.
  33. February 15, 1982: Ocean Ranger, Newfoundland, Canada, deep water oil platform sunk, 84 workers died.
  34. May 27, 1983: Benton Fireworks Disaster, Benton, Tennessee, 11 people killed.
  35. July 23, 1984: Union Oil Refinery Explosion, Romeoville, Illinois, 19 workers killed.
  36. November 19, 1984: San Juanico Disaster, San Juanico, Mexico, liquid petroleum gas tank explosion, hundreds people killed and thousands injured.
  37. November 23, 1984: Uherské Hradiště, Czechoslovakia, factory in collapsed, MESIT, 18 workers killed, 43 injured.
  38. December 3, 1984: Bhopal Disaster, Bhopal, India, methyl isocyanine released into atmosphere, Union Carbide India Limited, 4,000 to 20,000 people killed.
  39. July 19, 1985: Val di Stava Dam Collapse, Stava, Italy, tailings dam from Prestavel mine failed, 268 people killed.
  40. April 26, 1986: Chernobyl Disaster, Prypiat, Ukraine, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 50 workers killed, several thousands of people died from cancer over time.November 1, 1986:
  41. The Sandoz Disaster, Schweizerhalle, Switzerland, releasing tons of toxic agrochemicals into the Rhine.April 10, 1988:
  42. Ojhri Camp, Rawalpindi Pakistan, military storage explosion, 1,300 people killed.
  43. May 4, 1988: PEPCON Disaster, Henderson, Nevada, USA, chemical plant fire, 2 workers killed, 300 injured.
  44. May 5, 1988: Shell Oil Refinery Explosion, Norco, Louisiana, refinery explosion, 7 workers killed, 42 injured.
  45. June 28, 1988: Auburn, Indiana, chemicals accident, 5 workers killed.
  46. July 6, 1988: Piper Alpha Disaster. North Sea Oil Platform fire, 167 workers killed.
  47. March 24, 1989: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, 10.8 million gallons crude oil spilt, 100,000 to 250,000 seabirds died, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 247 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, billions of salmon and herring eggs were destroyed.
  48. October 23, 1989: Phillips Disaster, Pasadena, Texas, USA, chemical plant explosion, 23 peopl killed, 314 injured.
  49. July 5, 1990: Arco Disaster. Channelview, Texas, USA, Arco Chemical Company complex explosion, 17 workers killed.
  50. May 1, 1991: Angus Chemical Nitro-Paraffin Explosion, Sterlington, Louisiana, USA, 8 people killed, 120 injured.
  51. September 3, 1991: 1991 Hamlet Chicken Processing Plant Fire, Hamlet, North Carolina, USA, 25 workers burned to death.
  52. May 9, 1993: Nambija Mine Disaster, Nambija, Ecuador, 300 workers killed.
  53. May 10, 1993: Kader Toy Factory Fire, Thailand, 188 workers killed, mostly young women.
  54. September 3, 1998: Haysville KN Grain Elevator Explosion, Haysville, Kansas, USA, 7 workers killed.
  55. January 30, 2000: Baia Mare Cyanide Spill, Baia Mare, Romania, 100,000 tons of cyanide contaminated water, Aurul Mining Company, up to 80% of aquatic life of some of the affected rivers.
  56. May 13, 2000: Enschede Fireworks Disaster, Enschede, Netherlands, fireworks depot explosion, 22 people killed, 947 injured.
  57. September 21, 2001: AZF Fertilizer Factory Explosion, Toulouse, France, AZF, 29 people killed, 2500 injured.
  58. November 3, 2004: Seest fireworks disaster, Seest, Denmark, N. P. Johnsens Fyrværkerifabrik. 17 injured.
  59. March 23, 2005: Texas City Refinery Explosion, Texas City, Texas, USA, BP, 15 killed, 100 injured.
  60. December 11, 2005: Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal Fire.
  61. April 18, 2007: Qinghe Special Steel Corporation Disaster, molten steel spill, 32 killed, 6 injured.
  62. February 1, 2008: Istanbul Fireworks Explosion, Istanbul, Turkey, fireworks factory exploded, 22 people killed, 100 injured.
  63. February 7, 2008: Georgia Sugar Refinery Explosion. Port Wentworth, Georgia, USA, Imperial Sugar, dust explosion, 13 people killed, 42 injured.
  64. March 12, 2008: Gourmet du Village Bakery Warehouse Roof Collapse, Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, 3 workers killed.
  65. August 17, 2009: Sayano–Shushenskaya Power Station Accident, Sayanogorsk Russia, 75 workers killed.
  66. February 7, 2010: 2010 Connecticut Power Plant Explosion, Middletown, Connecticut, USA, 27 workers killed.
  67. April 20, 2010: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, largest offshore spill in U.S. history, 11 workers killed.
  68. April 5, 2010: Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, West Virginia, United States, Massey Energy, 29 miners killed.
  69. October 4, 2010: Alumina Plant Accident, Ajka, Kolontár, Devecser, Hungary, tailings reservoir broke, 9 people killed.
  70. November 19, 2010: Pike River Mine Disaster, New Zealand, coal mine explosion, 31 people killed.
  71. March 2011: Fukushima I Nuclear Accidents, Japan.
  72. July 11, 2011: Evangelos Florakis Naval Base Explosion, Cyprus, munitions dump explosion, 13 people killed.
  73. January 20, 2012: Burns Lake, British Columbia, wood mill explosion, 2 people killed, 20 injured.
  74. September 11, 2012: Ali Enterprises Garment Factory Fire, Karachi, Pakistan, 289 people killed.
  75. November 8, 2012: Neptune Technologies & Bioressources, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, 2 people killed, 19 injured.
  76. November 24, 2012: Dhaka Tasreen Fashions Fire, Dhaka, Bangladesh 112 workers killed.
  77. April 17, 2013: Fertilizer Plant Explosion, Waco, Texas, USA, fertilizer explosion occurred, West Fertilizer Company, 14 people were killed, 160 injured.
  78. April 24, 2013: Rana Plaza – Savar Building Collapse, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1129 workers killed, 2,515 injured.
  79. July 6, 2013: Lac-Mégantic Derailment, Lac-Mégantic, Quebec Canada, oil shipment train derailed, 40 people killed.
  80. May 13, 2014: Soma Mine Disaster, Manisa Province, Turkey, 301miners killed.
  81. August 4, 2014: Mount Polley Mine Disaster, Likely, British Columbia, extensive ecological damage toxic tailing flow to river.

Source: Wikipedia http://bit.ly/1rX3q28

 

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2 for 1 Economic Self-Flagellation and Wanting Less Stuff

In North America, most of us live in a vicious cycle of 2 for 1 economic self-flagellation.

First, we want too much stuff, more than we can afford really, so most of us need everything at the lowest price possible.

Second, we want expensive things most can ill afford.

So we work extra hours, or take on crazy credit levels to pay for things. When we get the stuff we want, we quickly become unsatisfied with it (cause stuff don’t make us happy) and so we start the cycle again.

Many, too many, of us have been willing to live this way for some time despite the often grave personal and financial consequences. We sacrifice our own quality of life and/or that of others to buy cheap or dear, and wittingly or not, encourage inevitable and avoidable personal, environmental and labor exploitation. We don’t like it but we still like our cheap and expensive stuff.

Companies are smart and they pay attention, so we shouldn’t be shocked when they manage to deliver our “needs.” They are, after all, only doing our bidding.

The only escape from our own self-inflicted punishment: want less stuff.

If you don’t belong, join the Story of Stuff movement… photo credit: The Story of Stuff

 

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